Southern odyssey

The McIntyre Ocean Globe fleet is pushing through the soft ‘Furious Fifties’ and the crews continue to embrace the ride, loving every minute.

06 February 2024


50 degrees South is proving a lot less furious than expected. Yes, they’ve experienced 30 knots winds, gusting to 40 at times, with 6-metre waves and bone-chilling salty spray soaking their foulies.

But there’s no doubt that a few are starting to question whether the Southern Ocean is, well, dare we say it, as challenging as its terrifying reputation. As we’ve said before – be VERY careful what you wish for.

Cape Horn and all its surprises are still to come, but so far for the past 3000 miles and like the whole Indian Southern Ocean of leg two, the sailing is almost too easy! Cape Horn is 1,500 miles away and the long-range forecast is not showing a huge storm?


Having successfully passed the second of Leg 3’s 50 degrees waypoint to starboard, the majority of the fleet dipped further South and continued to benefit from the perfect Easterly/South Easterly 20/25 knot winds, ticking 200 nm days off their charts. But, uncharacteristically it’s now not treacherous seas and storms that’s threatening speeds but a pesky high on the horizon.

Two weeks out from race start in Auckland (Sunday 14th) has witnessed a tightly packed fleet race in what was being described as ‘Champagne Sailing’, but the Flyer Class yachts have finally shown their teeth, taking the lead as they did in Leg 1 and 2.

At the time of writing, the 73-foot French Ketch Pen Duick VI FR (14) skippered by Marie Tabarly led, JUST. They’re a couple of miles ahead of Translated 9 ITL (09) with Maiden UK (08) and Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) breathing down their stern and closing the gap on the two leaders. But lighter wind is now slowing the head of the fleet giving a chance for those bringing up the rear to take back some miles lost in the last few days.

Neptune FR (56), Triana FR (66), Galiana WithSecure FI (06) and White Shadow ESP (17) remain tightly packed on the leaderboard. L’Esprit d’équipe FR (85) are bearing down with Outlaw AU (08) just 20nm. Evrika FR (07) the yacht sitting the most northerly of the pack, but experiencing the same winds, are also within miles of the middle pack.

The French Swan 53, Triana FR (66), skimmed past the second waypoint by 1 mile, recently lost the lead in IRC ranking to Translated 9Triana, one of the smallest yachts in the fleet, skippered by Jean d’Arthuys, has been giving the ‘bigger’ yachts something to think about as they held the coveted No 1 IRC ranking for over a week.

Now holding onto the second spot, she continues to be one to watch. The Swan 55, Galiana WithSecure FI (06), skippered by Golden Globe Race skipper Tapio Lehtinen is third in IRC ranking, with Maiden in fourth.

The fleet has also recognised their momentous achievement of sailing past Point Nemo (48°52.6′ South 123°23.6′ West), the spot in the Southern Ocean furthest from land in any direction. There are not many sailors that can brag about being down this neck of the woods and the OGR crews are rightfully proud.

“Hello POINT NEMO! We Finns love to keep our distance! We celebrate it with chocolate cake and nice SW winds,” Tweeted Spirit of Helsinki, who are fourth on the leaderboard.

“Great surfing day. 24h record 237nm and more coming. We are enjoying the Southern Ocean. Beautiful Waves,” they added, no doubt giving those yachts around them some cause for concern with these speeds. They do have some company from their fellow Finns though.

“160nm SSW of Point Nemo, the furthest point from land on Earth. Thus, the closest is Antarctica, next Easter Island & Chatham Islands, over 2000 nm away,” Tweeted Galiana Withsecure. “Lost my third albatross burgee from the masthead of Galiana WithSecure today,” added Tapio Lehtinen, the skipper. “First one went down with Asteria, second in the dismasting. Costs diminishing.”

The Golden Globe skipper who is not only disappointed by the lack of sealife the crew have seen since leaving New Zealand but also commented during the weekly satellite call about the mild weather they’ve been experiencing.

“It is surprising what light winds we’ve been sailing,” Tapio continued. “ We have less than 2000 miles of Southern Ocean left before Cape Horn and we haven’t had one single proper gale yet or any big waves. Our fastest surfs were in the beginning of the first leg.

“We’re still hoping to get into a good low-pressure system with good surfing conditions and strong winds. We have four reefs in our main sail and we haven’t had it down to reef four one single time. Reef three has been used maybe once. It’s easy and pleasant sailing but not what we were looking forward to in the Southern Ocean.”

It’s not only passing the obligatory OGR waypoints and Point Nemo the crew of the Australian yacht Outlaw were celebrating during the week. Australia Day, 25 January, did not go unnoticed.

“Passed Don’s 2nd dot and have lufted up 25 degrees to head more Southerly aiming for Don’s 3rd dot, 53S. Passing South of Point Nemo,” they Tweeted.

Outlaw Skipper Cambell Mackie went on to explain that a little tipple, yellow and green face paint and some Christmas cake helped mark the day.

Sterna SA (42) and Explorer AU (28) have experienced a mixed bag of fortunes with a high-pressure system slowing both yachts after earlier gains in the week. The crew of Sterna have continued with a list of maintenance onboard including fixing the watermaker and rigging up a new pole for their staysail. And shockingly Explorer seems to have put down their oven gloves and truffles for a few days to concentrate on sailing!

“Appearance of big symmetric now makes 4 different spinnakers in 24 hrs. Not sure if we’re racing hard or just chronically indecisive,” Tweeted Explorer, who hope to be around Cape Horn by mid-February. Let’s hope they don’t open the fridge and get distracted.

But if the tweets are anything to go by; it looks like White Shadow might well have taken over as the fleet’s chefs!

“The White Shadow bakery starts up! The most shorthanded, hectic and isolated in the world! Today we have chocolate cake for breakfast,” Tweeted the Spanish entry.

Meanwhile, nearly all the OGR team have landed and installed themselves in sunny Punta del Este and been made more than welcome by the fabulous Yacht Club Punta del Este. Beach towels laid out, sunbeds lined up steaks on the asado – now we just need the fleet to arrive safe and sound!

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