Last boat round the Horn

Spirit of Hungary seventh Barcelona World Race boat to return to the Atlantic

Monday March 16th 2015, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: none selected

Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman aboard Spirit of Hungary passed Cape Horn at 0613 UTC, the final boat to do so in the Barcelona World Race.

Driven by the relentless strong winds of a final Southern Ocean depression with 40 knot average wind speed and 50 gusts, Fa and Colman have been forced to endure conditions that have left them no respite for the last week. They passed the maritime world's most notorious landmark in 25 knots of wind and big seas with an elapsed time of 74 days 18 hours and 13 minutes since they set sail from Barcelona on the doublehanded round the world race on 31 December.

Their elapsed time includes a technical pit stop of just over two and a half days in Bluff, South Island, New Zealand when they were forced to repair a running rigging fitting and replace two keel bolts.

Fa and Colman - who holds dual US and Kiwi nationalities - departed Bluff on 27 February to begin their Pacific crossing.

Racing the newest IMOCA 60 in the Barcelona World Race fleet, Spirit of Hungary was designed by Fa and built by Pauger Carbon Composites in Hungary. The oldest and youngest skippers in the race only paired up a matter of weeks before the start. Their first competition for the boat, and as a team, is this three month race around the world. When the start gun sounded they had still never gybed a gennaker together. And this last week, their tenth at sea, has been dominated by the relentless rhythm of the gnarly, Pacific, when 30 knots starts to feel light and 35-40 knots, the default norm.

Seamanship, courage, tenacity and an ability to improvise and innovate have been the hallmarks of their race so far, at the outset dealing with long hours slowed in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, they had no choice but to watch the fleet race away from them, and more recently they have had many days of hard conditions in the Pacific.

It is the fourth time around Cape Horn for Fa, his third racing passage, last rounding in 1993 during the Vendée Globe. Colman rounded in 2013 leading the Global Ocean Race on a Class 40.

Spirit of Hungary is the seventh and final boat in the fleet of the third edition of the round the world race to make the return into the Atlantic. Barcelona Worl d Race leader Cheminées Poujoulat rounded Cape Horn on 25 February at 0:53 UTC

Colman summed up the ocean racer's addiction to the Southern Ocean: "Raw… Beautiful… Furious. It is hard to find a word to sum up our circumstances at the moment. We are brushing the top of probably our last real Southern Ocean depression and for the past 18 hours have had wind of 40 knots, gusting 45 to 50. The swells, big for weeks now have grown into mountainous seas. Easily 8 to 10 meters in height with lofty cornices blown higher by the storm force gusts, they tower over us and curl to break noisily in a thundering crash.

"Here, speed is our friend because as the waves pull up the stern we slide away from the breakers like a lithe dancer, but this is a dancer fighting for its life. Spirit of Hungary is tired and creaks and groans and burys its bow in the trough between the waves. After all the sail patches stuck, stitches sewn, blood spilled, sweat dripped and sleep missed while we have been down in the cold southern latitudes it will be a relief to turn the corner and make it back into the relative safety of the Atlantic. Instead of endless seas and gliding birds we will again be surrounded by tankers and cargo ships, flying fish and ports of call.

"Despite all of that, I will be sad to leave these frigid unfriendly waters. Its empowering to pass point Nemo and shout out to the world, knowing that there is no one and nothing to echo back. In our modern era it is truly rare to be totally self reliant and responsible for whatever circumstance that may arise. There’s that side and also the beauty of Nature in the raw."

Neutrogena became the second boat back into the Northern Hemisphere on Saturday night, crossing the Equator at 22:18 UTC. Crew Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz may have passed five days after Cheminées Poujoulat, but now is just 601 miles behind Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam, or two to three good racing days. Neutrogena has made back more than 900 miles on Cheminées Poujoulat in the last week. Third placed GAES Centros Auditivos has correspondingly reduced her deficit on Neutrogena to just 134 miles.

Somewhat remarkably after 74 days and something like 21,500 miles of racing, rivals We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton can see each other in the South Atlantic.

The theoretically slower One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton has gone from being a slightly distant threat to We Are Water, to having the real potential to overtake. Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa reported today that they could see the IMOCA 60 of Bruno and Willy Garcia on their port bow.

Bruno Garcia reported: "We enjoy the pressure and this race is making our days shorter. We live each day very intensely and so we like it. There is a race, they are doing well, and we are trying to keep them behind us, but it won't be easy.

"To be honest it is difficult to say because we have not had a lot of luck with the weather. We have to fight day to day as it comes because we don't really know what the key is, the Doldrums, Gibraltar, the last miles on the Mediterranean? We don't know.

In sixth place Renault Captur has said goodbye to the South. As Sébastien Audigane and Jorg Riechers said yesterday morning: "Last night, the sunset, an albatross came by and seemed to say goodbye ... At least this is what I like to think. The 40s left in our wake, water temperature gradually increases, we enjoy some sun in the Atlantic and soon enjoy a good shower ".


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