Fedor Konyukhov pushed by 65-knot winds on day 46 of inaugural Antarctica Cup 13/3/08

Cape Horn certainly lived up to its reputation today as Russian adventure sailor Fedor Konyukhov swept through Drake’s Passage pushed by 50-65knot westerly winds.

The infamous Cape marks the half way stage in Fedor’s solo circumnavigation around the Antarctica Cup Racetrack and these storm-force winds, coupled with the 135 million m3 of water running each second through the 500NM wide funnel that divides the Pacific and Atlantic, makes them some of the most feared waters in the world.

“The storm came upon me very suddenly – and very hard. I knew it was coming and hoped the winds would build gradually, but the storm came as one huge gust and the winds have not dropped below 50 knots since, with gusts up to 65. It is like all hell has broken loose. It is pitch dark, it is snowing, the ocean is completely covered in foam and the air is filled with spray. The noise on deck is enormous – it’s as if I am in a wind turbine…I have had to reduce sail to the minimum to stay in pace with the ocean.”

For the moment visibility, not wind, remains Konyukov’s prime concern: “Visibility is bad. I have my radar set for 6 miles, but with my boat diving in and out of the huge swells, the radar is continually sounding false alarms. So far there have been plenty of alarms or false alarms but I cannot sight an iceberg. Frankly, it is hard enough to define the difference between ocean and sky – it all looks like one grey blanket. I hate to say it, but I am playing Russian roulette here.”

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