Duggie Gillespie and crew aboard Spirit of Sark have taken Global Challenge lead

Approximately 580nm from Cape Horn, the Global Challenge fleet will soon see rising boat speeds and falling temperatures, both set to change at a rapid pace as they head south.

BG SPIRIT had been enjoying a rare lead of 14nm until this afternoon. Duggie Gillespie and his crew aboard Spirit of Sark have relegated them to 2nd, edging in front by a fragile 2nm. BP Explorer, skippered by David Melville, is just behind in 3rd and Clive Cosby’s Team Stelmar is also in immediate contention in 4th.

The teams are still enjoying the relatively warm winds of an increasingly intense high-pressure system, and most are currently experiencing around 30 knots from the north-east. When the front does pass over the fleet, the wind will back sharply to the west, and airs originating from further south will cause temperatures to plummet, although reports of falling temperatures have already started coming in.

The present forecast for rounding the Horn will not disappoint crews hoping for a ride to remember as they pass the notorious landmark. Winds will gradually intensify as they head south, with everything coming from the west or southwest. By Sunday, there will be westerly winds up to 40 knots at Cape Horn, which should coincide with the teams passing the Cape on Monday.

The initial baptism of fire as they turn into the Southern Ocean for the first time looks set to be followed by a patch of light and variable winds from Tuesday next week. While this will be frustrating, it may also come as a welcome respite after a bumpy ride round the Horn.