In the early morning hours of 19 December the third of five remaining competitors in the Golden Globe Race round-the-world non-stop regatta rounded Cape Horn . Estonia's Uku Randmaa passed the milestone 17 days after Dutchman Mark Slats.
« I can't believe I can see Cape Horn. I am filled with gratitude to the heavens»," the sailor wrote.
He had to slow down a bit on the last leg of the trip in the PacificOcean to catch some comfortable weather conditions, but he didn't have to wait long. This little ruse paid off: at just the right moment a 20 knot northwest wind blew in around Cape Horn with only three meters of swell.
« Now the conditions are very good»," Randmaa stated 40 nautical miles from the cape.
Good weather will accompany the Estonian for the next few days, so he will have a chance to celebrate his achievement.
Randmaa is just over two thousand nautical milesaway from the race leaders, Frenchman Jean-Luc van den Heede and Mark Slats, who are playing a cat-and-mouse game in Brazil.
The gap between van den Heede and Slats has narrowed in the past two weeks from 1,000 nautical miles to 770 nautical miles.
Heat and hunger have been the main problems for Slats in recent days.
« The climate has become 100% tropical. 30 degrees Celsius is not normal»," he lamented, sunburned.
But if the weather could not be influenced, the yachtsman's dietary experiments were of his own free will.
« I just caught my first fish! Delicious dorado, or mahi-mahi. This is really great because I didn't have lunch today, going to catch the fish. I did the same thing yesterday, I was sure I'd catch one, but it didn't work out in the end. But today the fish are finally in the cockpit and it's fantastic. I saved the oil, I still have four packs left, so I'll fry it. I'm hungry, and you better not know how much»," shared Slats.
Jean-Luc van den Heede has bigger worries. His already-fragile mast, damaged during the Pacific storm, decided to crack harder. The Frenchman has had to make urgent repairs and reinforce her. He is looking forward to trade winds in which the wind will come in from the right side and the mast will finally be a little less pressure in a vulnerable direction.
Meanwhile in the Pacific, American Istvan Kopar has avoided encountering one storm and is now hiding from another, which earlier in the week was described by experts as «possibly one of the biggest in the entire race».
Fortunately, the atmospheric front has formed to the east of where Kopar is, and the sailor can simply continue to gradually descend south, waiting for the cyclone to move away towards Cape Horn, from which Kopar is separated by some 1,500 nautical miles.
The race fleet leader, Finn Tapio Lehtinen , can't enjoy the good weather just yet either. He even has to help the wind autopilot steer the boat - the system cannot cope with strong winds on its own. According to Lehtinen, he has already broken his seventh pair of reading glasses because of the rocking.
«I try to see the horizon behind the tops of the waves in vain», the sailor wrote.
Between him and Ishtan Kopar is now just under two thousand nautical miles.
Susie Goodall, a Briton who had been evacuated from herstorm-ravaged boat Starlight on December 7, arrived in the Chilean port of Punta Arenas on December15 . Although the girl had mixed feelings about having to stop participating in the GGR, she admitted that she would not hesitate to try the race again if she had the opportunity.
«You may ask: Why?! Some people just live for the adventure. Such is human nature. For me, the sea is a place where adventure awaits. Every seafarer understands the risks involved in getting out on the water but it makes us stronger and helps us overcome the challenges of life», said the plucky 29-year-old Goodall.
For some, though, the adventure begins just as itends for others. The ocean has brought the abandoned boat of one of the GGR runaways, the Irishman Gregor McGuckin, which is still running the tracker, to the shores of western Australia. It can now be reached from Perth, a 1,200 nautical mile journey.
And it looks like some adventurers may want to bring the boat ashore, especially since you only need to bring along an aluminum emergency mast. The reward for the heroes will be not only gratitude, but also a keg of Irish whiskey left on board!
« The history of whisky makes it priceless! » - rightly noted at GGR