Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat round the legendary Cape Horn
Cheminées Poujoulat, which has lead the two handed round the world race for 39 days, has passed Cape Horn (67°15 11 W) at 01:00 UTC (02:00 Barcelona time, 22:00 Chilean time).
In so doing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam complete their passage through the inhospitable waters of the 'Big South', effectively rounding Antarctica, to start their ascent of the Atlantic to return back to Barcelona, from where they set sail on 31 December 2014.
The leading boat of the Barcelona World Race has covered the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific in 55 days and 13 hours. In so doing Stamm and Le Cam have covered 16,400 nautical miles of the theoretical course (23,300nm) and so they have 6,900 more left to finish the race.
As they passed the legendary cape, the southern tip of the American continent, Cheminées Poujoulat were sailing under Westerly wind (25 knots) and rough seas. Stamm and Le Cam will still face typical Big South conditions for some five or six days until they clear the Roaring 40s, climbing the Atlantic.
Even though the skippers were both passing this milestone for the fifth time each, it remains one of the most crucial and exciting moments of the round the world race, not only because on the unique challenges imposed by strong winds and big seas but it marks the 'beginning of the end' of the hard Big South conditions.
"We've been sailing for a month, more than a month, five weeks, with high conditions of wind and seas, and cold", Le Cam explained. "Now we will turn left, to the North and towards more pleasant temperatures, so in general it is good when you cross it", the Frenchman commented.
"We feel like we reached a very important passage which allows us to go north again", said Stamm in turn. "Besides, it is a special passage, full of history. It is all of these things at the same time", he concluded.
The Chilean Navy has one of the biggest maritime areas in the world under its protection, including Cape Horn. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre coordinates rescue operations in the area, and has reinforced the safety and security as the Barcelona World Race fleet makes their respective passages of Cape Horn, one of the most dangerous maritime passages on the planet. On station are a patrol boat with 24 seamen and six officers, along with a helicopter and two rescue divers.
The passage of Cape Horn of the second and third boats, Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz on Neutrogena and Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin on GAES Centros Auditivos, is expected between Friday and Saturday.