Saturday, 14 March 2009

VOR: PUMA to face huge storm and rough Cape Horn rounding

Casey Smith grinding as PUMA Ocean Racing, hit rough weather in the Southern Ocean, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kate Fairclough

One month into the longest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the PUMA Ocean Racing team are preparing to face heinous conditions over the next four days, as they make their way towards Cape Horn. With 1,700 nautical miles to go until they round the iconic landmark, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is about to be shaken up again, with the opportunity for place-changing at the front of the fleet. PUMA is currently in third place behind rivals Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4, but are closing the gap between the boats every mile that they sail.

Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America, is fabled for the hazardous conditions commonly encountered by boats rounding it. Where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet, strong winds, large waves, strong currents, freezing temperatures and rough seas combined with the chance of iceberg sightings make its rounding threatening to the most experienced ocean going sailors.

With a huge low pressure system currently building to the west of Chile, PUMA must make some big decisions with regards to their course to Cape Horn. Positioning themselves carefully within this weather system with winds of up to 50 knots could catapult the team towards Cape Horn at great pace, and offer the opportunity to overtake the two Ericsson boats. PUMA are expected to round Cape Horn on Monday or Tuesday of next week (16th or 17th March).

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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