By Brian Hancock
The maidens on Maiden have made it. They have re-created history by rounding Cape Horn in grand style. And with a multinational crew as well. Congratulations (ladies, women, girls, females – I don’t even know what term is the right term to use these days) but the word to focus on is ‘congratulations.’ Now it looks like they are heading for the Strait of Le Maire and let’s hope that a fair tide sweeps them north and then on to Uruguay. They deserve it, they have worked (very) hard for it and I hope that they get it. It’s a boost from the gods and it’s me saying this as an atheist.
In other news… The YB Trackers shows Spirit of Helsinki and Neptune right there, right now. The wind is from the west so they should be having a good go of it and hopefully having a good look at that most famous of all capes. By the way, for those who are geographically and historically illiterate (I’m not, but I am illiterate in lots of other things), Cape Horn is just a small island that was originally recorded by the Dutch sailors Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire when they rounded the cape in 1616. They named it Kaap Hoorn after a city in the Netherlands. Seems that the name has stuck.
Now here is the situation with Cape Horn. The Andes Mountain range runs down through South America and dips under the Southern Ocean and rises up again in Antarctica. As such (and Cape Horn is part of it) the ocean is relatively shallow, relatively being the operative word here. So when you get the low pressure systems that spin off Antarctica bringing strong westerly winds with them they build up big seas. (the witches) When big seas meet shallow water (again relatively speaking but remember they are pushing a whole ocean along.) Now where was I? Yes, (ADHD) so when big seas meet shallow water the waves get steeper, as in really steep. The ocean seems to trip up on itself. Not unlike me at a sack race when I was a kid (or was it the egg and spoon race, I can’t remember). But that’s not the only problem.
You have to look at this on a global scale. This is the Ocean Globe Race afterall. All of those westerly winds try and funnel between Antarctica and the Andes mountains (I like how that goes together), but seriously, the wind funnels through between the two continents and it starts to whoosh. Like bigly. (excuse me Mr Trump – you orange fat baboon). Anyway it whooshes bigly like it or not. So, like a Monday morning salad made by your mother-in-law (for breakfast no less) you end up with something that looks like the inside of a car in a car wash.
Funny story, if I may, my youngest son is a dare devil. He can snowboard like a cat getting out of hell with a couple of dobermans on the chase, he can climb mountains, but he was always terrified by a car wash. And so should we all be at that age. Those creepy crawly things that came along and pretended to wash your car. Anyway, I digress. I am celebrating those beautiful women (see I have chosen a word and send them good wishes) and I am celebrating all of them. I have a great respect for all of them. I know that I make light of things sometimes. it’s out of respect and I respect all of them.
I once climbed a 14’er in Colorado. I might have had a glass or two when I agreed to it and I had no idea what I was agreeing to. The 4:30 in the morning wake-up call should have been a clue. I thought that we were just going for a walk. I took us 18 hours to get to the top and down again. It was called the Mount of the Holy Cross. I was calling it the mount of the Holy Fu*k before we were less than halfway up. Now here was the problem. Okay you have probably guessed it by now. All of these young and fit (and beautiful) Colorado type people were whizzing by me, very determined with their latest LL Bean hiking gear on, but every now and then one of the would stop and mention my footwear. Yes you got it. I was wearing flip flops. My lovely wife Sally and I did good (after eight hours) until we got to the base of the summit. That was when my daughter Tory made the mistake of saying, “Why don’t you guys just wait here. We will catch you on the way down.” That was red meat to Sally, who by the way has run 10 long and hard full marathons. We made it to the top and we made it down but it was one of the hardest things either of us ever did. So to my point. A corner like Cape Horn is just a corner. Once you are around you still have to come down and coming down is hard. For the McOGR fleet coming down is going to be hard. Just as it is going up the coast of Argentina trying to get to the beautiful country of Uruguay. Sail safe sailors and congrats Maiden, Spirit of Helsinki and Neptune. Sail safe, be kind and most of all sail fast. By the way, I ditched those flip flops in a bin at the airport in Cape town years later and I guess that I am probably the only person who has ever climbed Mount of the Holy fu*k in flip flops.