Mike Golding (GBR, Gamesa):
It is still very difficult, we are not in huge winds any more, we still have a very big sea running but the problem is we are still getting squalls through which are still very strong, they never settle down. I just have had a 35 knot squall on a baseline of 22 knots. Very difficult to have a sail plan that covers both those ranges. I'm approaching the Gate now, I'm only 6-7 miles to the south of it, paralleling it, just slowly making my way towards the far end. I'm still taking little nibbles out of it when I get a good wind shift, so hopefully once I am clear of the Gate i can maybe put the bow up and go for a simpler sail configuration and make a more direct and restful passage.
It has not been the easiest of passages and has certainly not been my quickest across the Souther Ocean. A lot of manoeuvres, because are pinned up to the northern gate, just keeping us out of the steady flow … obviously not entirely because the other guys who joined at the front have got the ride and kept the ride, but further back it has been more difficult. It has been a long way, we are looking forward to Cape Horn and start making some progress north.
The Horn was alright last time, I had some problems later on near the Falklands with some halyards, but no the Horn was ok last time, but this time it looks more complicated. We approach with a trough, through a trough of very light airs and at the moment looking at the new file it seems we join another system at the Horn, 25-30 knots, and presumably quite gusty like this so could be quite breezy this time rounding the Horn. Then you have the added complexity of the knowledge of ice, which puts a new perspective on the whole thing. At the moment my routing has me carving a set of gybes right the way through the main cluster of ice so I am going to have to have a good think about that one.
Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire):
The wind is back as we’ve passed the anticyclone, which is moving east now. This part of the Atlantic between Cape Horn and Brazil isn’t the easiest area when it comes to strategy. The info from the weather files keeps changing every day and the situation isn’t an easy one. I’m satisfied with my current position, it’s exactly what I chose to do. I’m sailing my own race regardless of what François is doing, or JP, who doesn’t have the same weather conditions anyway.
My choice was based on the fact I didn’t want to get stuck in a too extreme position, I wanted to keep my options open. We’ll see if it was the right one. All I’m trying to do is find the right route, the most favourable one given the weather and the wind I’m getting. It may look like direct routes to you, but it’s not necessarily what I want to do, it just happens to be like that.
It’s still pretty cold at night but still, you can tell we’re getting closer to warmer zones. The weather conditions have been tough since we rounded Cape Horn, the sea was really rough, the roughest since the start, really. The past 36 hours have been very demanding, I’ve had a lot of things and manoeuvres to take care of, and some sleep to catch up with, too! So I didn’t have time to shave. But I’ll shave before I reach Les Sables, no worries!
I love solo sailing, this time is different from four years ago because there’s a close fight, which will hopefully last until Les Sables. I’m glad we managed to avoid major issues, it’s been a fast race, we’re getting closer to home and hopefully, we’ll be there by the end of the month.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKENA Vérandas):
I’ve been shaken a lot lately, there’s 32 knots of wind and it’s moving a lot because of the waves. The blisters on my fingers are getting better thanks to the cream I’ve put on. It may look like a little detail but when it burns and it gets even worse with the sea water, I can tell you it’s a real pain.
I was trying to catch up with the others ahead of me before Cape Horn but it’s going to be tricky. Cheminées Poujoulat is going so fast! I still have my red Spanish chorizo on the radar screen ahead of me!
Last night I thought I was going to have a quiet night and be able to get some sleep but not at all! I had to manoeuvre all night long instead.
We’re paying a high price to be able to leave the Southern Ocean. I have to be careful but also enjoy the moment, it may be my last strong Southern wind before long!
Alessandro Di Benedetto (FRA-ITA, Team Plastique):
I’ve just opened my gifts and eaten foie gras to celebrate my birthday, with salt I had with me and also salt from the ocean. I really appreciated the messages I received. I may have celebrated my birthday twice because of the antemeridian, but I swear I only drank once!
I have 40 knots of wind and I’ve just crossed the New Zealand gate, I’m now heading to the West Pacific gate. It’s shaking a lot here on board, there are strong gusts. I hope I don’t cross paths with a 6.5-metre boat like the one I sailed around the world on, because I would crush it! It’s part of my past, really…
I considered sailing closer to the coast to take shelter and fix a piece of rope stuck in my rudder, but I decided to repair at sea instead. Bernard’s case showed situations like that are always tricky. I’m also having engine troubles, it’s really not working at the moment, I’m not sure why yet.
Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud):
I’m facing very tough conditions right now, with huge waves and cold temperatures as well. I think I have 4 to 5 days left before Cape Horn, I think it will be the 10th time I round it. I’m not complaining about food, though, I’ve had very good things lately, including foie gras!
Alex Thomson (GBR, HUGO BOSS):
I’m doing good. Rounding Cape Horn solo for the first time in my career also brought very different conditions, much milder. I haven’t had a chance to clean up a bit or to shave yet, though. I’ve had hydrogenerators issues for the past month and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to work hard on them in the near future. I really need to because I don't have enough fuel to finish the race if I don't so I’m focusing on sailing the boat in a way that will allow me to make it to the finish line, I don’t get to look at the others’ routes, positions ad choices too much.