The VO70 Telefonica MoviStar, on the second part of her ocean training schedule for the Volvo Ocean Race, rounded Cape Horn last Friday.

The VO70 Telefonica MoviStar, on the second part of her ocean training schedule for the Volvo Ocean Race, rounded Cape Horn last Friday. In just two weeks, she has sailed the 4,300 miles separating Wellington from the southernmost tip of the American continent, going from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic; a journey during which the crew of the Spanish Round the World race has faced every possible difficulty: “We have come across every sea and wind combination that one can encounter sailing,” says Bouwe Bekking, MoviStar’s Skipper “from winds over 40 knots with monster waves and snow, to dead calms, sailing at 5 knots with the sea like a mirror.

“There were some moments of relaxation, like the day after the record, when we sailed with a soft breeze that allowed us to regain our strength and make small repairs. We also had to suffer the worst the Southern Ocean had to throw at us; last Tuesday night, the wind picked up from 20-40 knots in just a few seconds, and we started flying over the waves at a speed of 30 knots. At moments like these, you really appreciate the boat’s solid construction, and the fact that the safety harnesses are working!”

This was the first crossing of the Southern Ocean for Iker Martínez, Offshore Helmsman of the team. “We made the crossing at night; sailing very close to the rocks, with a wind speed between 20 and 25 knots, over a flat sea.” Describes Iker “For Xabi and myself, this was our first rounding of Cape Horn, and the guys threw us a small party. Someone even produced some cigars!

“It was very exciting, being there and thinking that we were finally rounding Cape Horn,” added Xabi Fernández, jib Trimmer. “We have not come across any icebergs throughout the journey, and according to Bouwe we should be thankful for having met such favourable conditions.”

This ocean training is proving to be a success in terms of the schedule established by Bekking and Pedro Campos, General Manager and Inshore Helmsman: “As far as Cape Horn is concerned, the balance is nothing but positive,” says Campos. “It’s great that we have been able to test the boat’s behaviour in such a wide range of conditions, for we have collected a great amount of very valuable information. Furthermore, we have confirmed with satisfaction that the training schedule that took us so much time and effort, is starting to yield results.”

After 4,300 miles of sailing and making history by setting a new world record see previous news story here, the mood on board is excellent. “The work is hard, very hard,” confesses Xabi. “We have just a few minutes between shifts and rest to think of little else but work. However, the team spirit is fantastic. Even though we had some very difficult moments, knowing you are backed by such a capable crew gives you confidence.

“The cold temperatures were the worst of this southbound journey to Cape Horn,” Iker adds. “Down here, so close to the South Pole, priorities change dramatically. Now I understand Bouwe when he told us that in these circumstances, all you dream of is a pair of dry socks.”

Once the boat was sailing on the Atlantic Ocean, having sailed past the critical point of Cape Horn, the VO70 “movistar” set its course to the North, bound for Rio de Janeiro. “Now that we have gone as far south as we planned, conditions should start to improve,” says Stu Bannatyne, Watch Captain. “We are sailing close-hauled for the first time since we departed from New Zealand, and when we sail past Staten Island, it will be sailing north all the way. We still have to sail a further 2,400 miles to Rio, but at least we will have left the Southern Ocean behind.”

Team Telefonica MoviStar plans to arrive in Rio de Janeiro between 20-22 April.