In offshore yacht racing there’s nothing like the prospect of an upcoming headland rounding to get the competitive juices flowing and galvanise the crew into an extra push to get there ahead of the pack.
Imagine then the motivation that Vendee Globe frontrunners Yannick Bestaven and Charlie Dalin are experiencing today as they both hurtle at over 20 knots ever closer ocean racing’s most iconic landmark – Cape Horn, at the southernmost tip of Chile in South America on Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Aside from the immense kudos of becoming one of the few solo sailors to have rounded Cape Horn, for the current batch of Vendee Globe racers putting the rocky outcrop behind them means they will have begun the final section of their around-the-world adventure – the long hard slog up the Atlantic to the finish in France.
It’s worth noting that the Horn is pretty much the first piece of land the solo Vendee Globe skippers have had to seriously factor into their navigational strategies since they left Les Sables D’Olonne on November 8. That’s 53 days of open ocean racing for the fleet with the freedom to sail where ever the solo skippers’ weather routing takes them.
Now though they need to plan carefully for their approach and rounding of what is without question the most notorious headland.
For the leading pair, Bestaven and Dalin, the rounding is further complicated by a snarly-looking storm that is forecast to converge on the Horn at the same time as they do. Furthest south of the two and skirting along the ice exclusion zone, race-leader Bestaven looks best-positioned to deal with the depression which is packing 40+ knot winds and big seas.
Meanwhile, further north, Dalin will likely have to edge his way down to Bestaven’s line over the New Year weekend. Nevertheless the routing has the pair rounding in stormy conditions but just hours apart.
Based on media reports from the boats it seems that Dalin is the more exhausted of the two at this stage and has the added pressure of trying to stay ahead of the storm front to avoid losing touch with Bestaven.
More than three hundred miles behind them Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut and Damien Seguin on Apicil are locked in another intense battle for third place.