Camper round Cape Horn

SUZANNE MCFADDEN - BOATING NZ
Last updated 17:22 11/04/2012
Camper Southern Ocean
Hamish Hooper
EPIC SAILING: Camper co-skipper Stu Bannatyne battles the icy Southern Ocean.

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Camper have finally reached the "massive psychological milestone" of rounding Cape Horn, but still face 1800 nautical miles of racetrack before hitting the finishline of their agonising fifth leg in the Volvo Ocean Race.

And at their current speed, they are likely to have only four days to get ready for the in-port race in Itajai, Brazil, and five days before they head back out to sea again for the 4800 mile leg to Miami.

The Emirates Team New Zealand boat - the last yacht still on the water in this Southern Ocean leg - sailed past the legendary rock face, at the southernmost point of South America, just after midday NZT.

On board there was an overriding wave of relief rather than celebration, two weeks after the boat suffered critical damage to a bulkhead and had to veer away from the Horn.

"It's a massive psychological milestone to get around Cape Horn; you know you are almost there even though you still have a couple of thousand miles to go," Camper's co-skipper Stu Bannatyne said.

"They say the number of people who have sailed or raced around Cape Horn is only a fraction of those who have climbed Mt Everest these days. It's not a particularly memorable piece of land in terms of how it looks.  But it holds a mythical charm, and it's the most talked-about and important landmark in this yacht race."

The psychological boost of sailing north will also keep the crew's spirits high.  They sailed around the Horn in moderate conditions, keeping ahead of a severe weather system packing winds of up to 60 knots.

Their next challenge is deciding whether to take an east or west route around the Falkland Islands.

"Now we can focus on getting north, getting out of the cold and into warmer temperatures, and getting away from this nasty weather system behind us. It's really late in the season to be rounding Cape Horn so it's great to have it behind us," skipper Chris Nicholson says.

Sailing at an average of 16 knots today, Camper is on target to reach Itajai, Brazil, on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, NZ time.

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