They are off; on the second leg of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. Cape Town put on a fantastic display of weather with sunny skies and a fairly light breeze. The sailors were excited and ready for the challenge that lies ahead, and a challenge it will be. Most of the sailors have not sailed in the Southern Ocean before so they will get to experience the thrill, excitement, terror and absolute beauty of this part of the planet. It’s a life changing experience.
Once they round Cape Point there will be some headwinds but nothing too challenging, as in no feeding the fishes. That will come at some point. They will sail toward the most beautiful cape in the world (humble opinion) but along the way they will pass Camps Bay (stunning), Sandy Bay in case anyone wants to get naked and let the sun shine in on some things that rarely get to see the sun, Hout Bay where I used to live, past Chapmans Peak, then Kommetjie and then finally past Cape Point, which by the way is not the most southern point in Africa. That honor goes to Cape Agulhas a couple hundred miles to the east. Then the action will start.
I am not giving advice to anyone here but I may or may not have done the leg from Cape Town to Auckland a few times and my ‘suggestion’ is generally to get south as quickly as possible. It’s a bumpy road but for now it looks OK. There is a tricky bit of light weather that our friends on Godspeed might run into on their way into Cape Town, but if they can navigate that it should be good for a few days. There is a low pressure system not too far south.
You see, here is the gist of it, There is a high pressure system over Antarctica that spawns of a series of low pressure systems, some of which can be vicious. Not all of them but if you can hitch a ride on the northern side of the low you could be in for a good ride.
Low pressure systems rotate clockwise (in the Southern Hemisphere) meaning that the winds on the north side generally (another nautical term) will be from the west, or southwest or northwest but in general good news for a boat heading east toward New Zealand. Problem is the competitors in the race are not able to get daily weather updates. They could have looked at 10-day forecasts before the left the dock but after that they are on their own to figure it out.
The most useful instrument on board will a barograph which is similar to a barometer except that it plots the pressure gradient on a piece of paper so that you can get a visual look at the pressure over time, which shows if the atmospheric pressure is rising or falling. If it’s falling you are going to get some good breeze, and by good breeze I mean winds gusts to 50 knots. If it’s rising you may be looking at some beach weather ahead, but the fun of the game is that it’s like playing chess with the wind gods.
Godspeed is cooking along with a little bit of gas. 8.4 knots with just under 400 miles to go. Before they get to Cape Town I will have an update on why they are such a special team in this race.