Monday, March 16, 2009

Brutal conditions in the Furious Fifties

Cabo De Hornos at high speed
Forced to run eastwards under reduced sail in the south-westerly gale yesterday, Cubillos and Muñoz are currently 300 miles off the coast of their homeland, Chile. “Those following the regatta via the internet will see that we are in an area of very dark arrows,” explained Cubillos last night. “It is certain that we are facing the worse weather by far in this entire race, and possibly the worst we have seen in our lives.” However, he was quick to reassure his enormous, Chilean fan base: “But we’ve got everything under control. In the past few hours, we have stopped receiving winds of 65 knots and this is becoming stabilized at just under 50, which feels surprisingly calm by comparison.”

Despite the harsh conditions, their Class 40, Desafio Cabo de Hornos, is coping with the battering at 51°S. “Nothing is broken on board,” confirms Cubillos, “and although the fuse on one of the rudders broke during a broach and it flicked up, we’ve sorted it out already.” Fortunately for the Portimão teams, MRCC Punta Arenas is continuing to monitor the fleet and feed the skippers with highly accurate and detailed weather forecasts. “With advance warning of the gales, we dropped the main and sailed with the staysail only,” the Chilean skipper explains. “Our average speed has been 13 knots and just with the staysail, we touched 22 knots. In these conditions the autopilot can’t cope and José and I have been helming in two-hour shifts.” read more