Irish born Green Dragon rounds Cape Horn on St Patrick's Day
Green Dragon’s Ian Walker and crew passed the scoring gate at the southern tip of South America at 02:15 GMT, in fourth place. “It must be fate”, said Walker in recognition that the rounding took place on St Patrick’s Day.
Earlier, Ericsson 3 had led the procession, reaching the landmark at 12:22 GMT to add four points to its overall tally. Ericsson 4 was second round, a little over two hours later. On PUMA, Ken Read’s men passed through in third at 20:46 GMT and banked themselves three points.
Read captured the moment in an email this evening. “If the southern most point of South America could talk, it would tell some harrowing tales of tragedy and heroics by sportsman and traders and businessman and adventurists alike, probably more so than any other nautical landmark in history,” he said.
“For this reason alone, it is a privilege to be let through these gates, entrance to which must be earned and not simply taken.
The Nordics, skippered by Magnus Olsson, have had control of this marathon leg since navigator Aksel Magdahl’s gamble to ignore Southern Ocean tradition and head north from the previous waypoint at 36 degrees south.
Olsson took over the reins of Ericsson 3 from Anders Lewander at the start of this leg in Qingdao, having deputised for Lewander on the previous stage while he nursed an injury leg.
Today marked the 60-year-old’s sixth rounding. “Anytime you go round Cape Horn your heart beats a little faster,” he said. “You can feel the historical moments of this place, all of the seamen who’ve fought to get round it. It’s fantastic.”
The sistership, Ericsson 4, picked up 3.5 points for rounding in second place at 14:48 GMT. Skipper Torben Grael, ticking the box for the second time, said: “Cape Horn for sailors is like climbing Mount Everest.”
For the leaders, the treacherous conditions anticipated at the Horn did not materialize with wind conditions in the 25-30 knot range and moderate seas. On the final approach, Ericsson 4’s Media Crew Member Guy Salter handed out plaudits to his stable mates. “The Ericsson 3 boys have managed to hold us off – and fair play to them – they played a good move early after the last scoring gate – a move which none of the rest of us were as brave to play and go against all that is traditional with the NZ to the Horn leg,” he wrote.
Further back, Telefonica Blue was still over 500 miles from the waypoint. The Blue boat is engaged in a high speed pursuit. CLICK HERE to see awesome video footage of the Spanish boat, courtesy of Volvo Ocean Race TV .
Cape Horn Scoring Gate
1. Ericsson 3 – 12:22 GMT: 4 points
2. Ericsson 4 – 14:48 GMT 3.5 points
3. PUMA – 20:46 GMT 3 points
4. Green Dragon – 02:15 GMT 2.5 points
Distance to Cape Horn at 05:30 GMT
Telefonica Blue – 515 nautical miles