Nick Moloney holds on for dear life as he tries to pick the growlers out from the torrents of spray

Nick Moloney reports from Orange today that a constant watch is being kept for ice, as the giant catamaran marks its last 48 hours in the Southern Ocean before rounding Cape Horn. He says that skipper Bruno Peyron has decided not to push further south in order to make the safest passage round the Horn and instead they have ‘just put the pedal to the floor’.

With strong headwinds forecast, they seem fortuitously to have made the right move and are hammering along at between 23 and 33 knots under double-reefed mainsail and staysail.

It has been extremely hard going, Moloney admits in this latest report:

‘Last night was radical, to say the least. Absolutely freezing cold. Rotating half hour helming, half hour warming up, half hour hour ice watch, half hour warming up – and that’s the watch.

‘The ice watch was insane. For half an hour you harnessed yourself to the mast standing on the rotator on the front of the mast, holding on to two sheet deflectors and you attempt to identify growlers from breaking waves. All the time the helmsman is just trying to push out the biggest speeds he can.

‘I remember thinking this is like some ride you would find at an extreme theme park. Sometimes sustaining 36 knots boatspeed the boat was just busting the seas apart. I also remember thinking “How the hell are we supposed to see anything with all this water flying about the place?”

‘Poised to blow the storm jib halyard as covered up as possible, my face was painfully cold. My feet were numbing. I began a stupid dance to the tune of “New York, New York” to attempt to keep warm. As the waves broke, their crests cast a lighter glow on the dark sea. Your heart would skip a few beats then, before you could act or do a thing the mass was already beneath the trampoline or bursting over our hulls.

‘Twice I thought I saw large pieces of ice but it was always too late to even yell a warning. You just hang on that little bit harder and brace for a high speed collision. If this all sounds a little crazy then you are right… The experience was really memorable. Standby was a rolling watch at the radar. We were all happy to see dawn this morning.

‘It’s under 1,300 miles to Cape Horn and it looks like we should maintain reasonable speed. The next 12 hours could be difficult with the breeze forward but its should shift back behind us as we get closer.’