OGR – Pen Duick VI First To Cape Horn

  • Pen Duick VI FR (14) first in McIntyre Ocean Globe Fleet to round the infamous Cape Horn at 04:51 UTC February 6th, in ‘perfect’ Southern Ocean winds.
  • Translated 9 IT (09) crossed Cape Horn 5.5 hrs later and continued the leaderboard battle up the east coast to Punta del Este, Uruguay.
  • Fleet split into four, with gusting 55-knot winds and seven metre seas causing minor damage. Second pack due at Cape Horn Thursday, rear-enders over the weekend.
  • First yachts expected in Yacht Club Punta del Este 13-14th February.

The renowned 73-foot Bermudan Ketch, Pen Duick VI FR (14) skippered by the equally legendary Marie Tabarly, rounded the notorious Cape Horn at 04:51 UTC, 6th February. For Tabarly and her eleven crew, it’s a momentous achievement. But, no doubt, being head of the OGR fleet past Cape Horn makes the experience even sweeter for the super-competitive skipper.

The days approaching Cape Horn brought 35-knot winds, gusting to 55, 6-8 metre seas, a confused sea state, with 2-metre secondary swells, it’s just what Pen Duick VI, and Tabarly, had been craving – a challenge. Consistent average speeds of over 10.5 knots heading to Cape Horn were normal, with 240 nm a day ticked off the chart – nothing unusual. In fact, just prior to the final approach, Pen Duick VI recorded a boat new speed record of 28.3kn!!

Concerns about a ‘mega’ storm earlier in the week by some commentators never materialised – just your regular ‘Southern Ocean weather’ for the area says race organiser, Don McIntyre . And despite the OGR’s warnings about ‘being careful what you wish for’ some REAL ‘Southern Ocean weather’ is exactly what Pen Duick VI, in fact, the entire 13-strong fleet, had been waiting for since the start of Leg 3 in Auckland, back on January 14th. Crews are happy! Ironically, the actual passing itself proved the tamest weather in days for Pen Duick VI with 25k NW gusting 40k 2.5-3.5m sea and a temperature of 10ºC. They passed 2.5 nm off Cape Horn.

Since the OGR started in Southampton (10th), Tabarly has stated that Pen Duick VI just required strong winds to show what the powerful yacht and her crew are made of. Finally, after months of waiting and searching, the winds showed up in the South Ocean this week, and Pen Duick VI bared his teeth.

Translated 9, about 5 hours behind Pen Duick VI, is still the IRC handicap leader two days ahead on IRC rating. Pen Duick VI is third. Tabarly had, like many in the fleet, complained that the weather to date had been too easy! She also claims her crew have ‘lava’ running through their veins, such is their passion for racing the high seas – appropriate really while conquering Cape Horn, which sits on the archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America called Tierra del Fuego – Land of Fire!

And for many, seeing Pen Duick VI lead the fleet around Cape Horn is extra poignant. They’ll recall her father, Eric Tabarly, racing the unique yacht in the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race. The crews of the OGR are circumnavigating and taking on the three Great Capes in recognition and celebration of that first Whitbread – so yes, this race is extra special for Pen Duick VI.

But it’s not only the change in weather that makes this week remarkable for the OGR. To conquer Cape Horn is a mammoth badge of honour for any sailor. Its infamous nature strikes fear in the heart of even the hardest seafarer, but the crews of the OGR have been waiting with bated breath for this challenge – no doubt with a mix of excitement, trepidation and a healthy respect for what’s ahead over the 6-metre waves. Yes, the crews will have conquered Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, but South America’s notorious Cape Horn is the one that you have in your back pocket to brag about when you really want to shut them up at the yacht club bar!!

Meanwhile,  the rest of the fleet has split. The lead pack includes Maiden UK (03), Neptune FR (56) Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) and Triana FR (66). They received a weather warning from OGR headquarters over the weekend, which is standard procedure when winds are expected over 35knots. The ‘big’ winds passed over the pack –  not causing any major issues, but producing impressive speeds. They are expected to reach Cape Horn on Thursday.

The Maiden crew had also expressed frustration at the lack of wind at the end of last week and threatened a wind dance to get things moving! They must have carried out their threat as the wind filled in shortly after and have since recorded a top surfing speed of 22 knots.

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