While the Class 1 yachts battle their way up the Atlantic, four of the Class 2 boats are still in the grip of the Southern Ocean and getting pummelled as they make their way towards Cape Horn.
It hard to ignore the tussle at the front of Class 1, but we should not forget that the real tough sailing takes place in the small boats at the back of the pack. For one, they have to endure more storms in the Southern Ocean by virtue of the fact that they spend a lot more time there, and secondly, it's a lot wetter and wilder on a 40-footer than it is on an Open 60.
Derek Hatfield's latest report from Spirit of Canada speaks volumes about life on board a small boat. "The last 24 hours has been some of the toughest in the whole race thus far,"
he wrote. "The conditions are changing every few hours from high winds to near no wind, and then rain squalls every few hours accompanied with very high winds. It's very difficult to have the right combination of sails up and I feel like I'm sailing very slow. I've lost track of the number of sail changes I have done."
Spirit of Canada is 1,200 miles from Cape Horn and the Canadian skipper is looking longingly at the tip of South America wishing he was around the corner and out of the southern latitudes. "It will be a great relief to finally pass that rock and exit the Southern Ocean, stage left,"
he wrote. "I feel a bit like the safety guy coming up the race course last, ensuring everyone has made it through safely. So far, I'm happy to report, I have not found any race casualties along the way."
The constant sail changes have not hurt Hatfield's performance. At last poll he had narrowed the gap between himself and his great friend Alan Paris on BTC Velocity to just over 100 miles. Both skippers are pushing hard to get clear of the Southern Ocean but there is still a long way to go to Cape Horn. Another skipper pushing hard, and for the first time since leaving Tauranga, finally feeling 100%, is Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of yukoh. For the first two weeks of the trip Koji was dealing with seasickness and having difficulty with the conditions. Since his trip up the mast a few days ago he has been back in fighting form and sailing his boat as hard as he dares. The conditions are not easy where he is either. "The wind really increased overnight,"
he wrote. "The line of a weather front passed right over us and the wind meter has been showing an average of 42 knots with gusts to over 50 knots. But we are going fine, with three reefs in the main."
Later in the day the clouds lifted and Kojiro got a glimpse of blue sky for the first time in days. It made him nostalgic for the warmth of the Atlantic.<> "Blue sky with some white cloud. It's a great feeling. It' s telling me its time to say goodbye to the Southern Ocean. I am looking forward again to sailing again under warm and brilliant skies."
Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal should round Cape Horn this weekend. It will be a major milestone for the America skipper who has dreamed of rounding the infamous Cape for many years. We will keep you posed on his progress and the progress of Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America who is eating up the miles as he sails up the Atlantic well ahead of his Class 2 rivals. To listen to Tim Kent describe life on board Everest Horizontal as he approaches Cape Horn, cut and paste the link below.