Day 17, Monday February 22, 1999

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Photo Richard Konkolski

Shortly before midnight yesterday, Marc Thiercelin rounded Cape Horn. He wrote: "So here I am, for the second time and the second year in a row, rounding this pebble, this rock at the end of the world known as Cape Horn... Like the first time, on 19 January 1997, the sky is overcast and the sea grey and confused, but the gale I was sailing into yesterday has passed. While I was crawling along at 8-9 knots and pounding into the waves, FILA was approaching from above with the depression, and doing 16-18 knots on a reach. Hello! I have lost a large part of my lead as a result."

"In addition, I am going to stop for a couple of hours to try to repair my boom and gooseneck fitting. I may even decide to stitch up my main genoa, which has torn all the way across; but that might take too long, so we'll see... For now, I have become a Cape Horner for the second time, and may make it a third in the next Vendee Globe. So I have twice the customary right to spit into the wind, to piss into the wind, and to wear a gold ring in my left ear, though that isn't part of my current plans."

In the morning, at 1030 GMT, Marc Thiercelin approached the sheltered waters of Aguirre Bay looking to do some quick repairs. By the end of the day Soldini was less than hundred miles from Cape Horn with only 155 miles behind Thiercelin.

MSCrayValDoc2.jpg (17829 bytes) Cray Valley Photo Marek Slodownik

Some 900 miles back the second class boat fleet was battered by the gale force wind and huge seas. The Class II leader, Jean-Pierre Mouligne reported: "The last couple of days have been difficult sailing. First we had a gale with wind approaching 60 knots. I finally had to take my main sail down entirely and run under bare pole for 6 hours. With no sails at all and just the pressure of the wind on the rigging Cray Valley was still moving at 10 to 12 knots. The seas got mountainous, certainly the biggest waves I have seen so far in my life, 25 to 35 feet on average, and sometimes one which would come out of nowhere appeared to be almost twice that size. I have lost some of my lead to Magellan and I need to accelerate without breaking anything. The race does not end in Cape Horn, there is a long stretch to Punta and the boat that gets out of the Southern ocean with the least amount of damage will probably be the first one to finish."

Some 147 miles back behind Mouligne, Michael Garside could not remember how many days he was battling the strongest storm of the Southern Oceans so far during this race. He wrote: "The big blow goes on without seeming to draw breath. How many days is it now? Three? Four? I lose count. And there really seems to be no end to it... In the mean time I drive on as hard as I dare. Alphie has continued to retake small batches of miles from JP, who must certainly be playing it safe with his huge race lead. I also gain a few miles each shift from Brad."

FolMagelanAlphaAir2.jpg (21616 bytes) Magellan Alpha

Another 160 miles behind Garside was surviving but battered Balance Bar. Van Liew sent the following message: "I currently have another wave of bad weather that has lasted for 24 hours. The break of 10 hours of 30 knots was great and I need another one. The winds in my area are 50 kts sustained with gusts to 70 knots in snow and hail squalls. The seas have now had enough time to get huge and I hope this is as big and confused as they get. I have been knockdown several times each hour for the last 24 hours."

About 550 miles behind the Class II leader, Viktor Yazykov was handling his small 40-footer well. He was also able to send a report: "Lots of snow squalls last two days every 10 -15 minutes. We do not have a heater, the condensation is horrible, and everything is getting wet. My mother in law made few pares of socks and mittens out of dog wool. Thank you mom, I feel your heart warmth."

Almost 1,400 miles behind Yazykov, Neal Petersen emailed: "The NNE wind still blows, but we were able to make 181 miles progress, which put me in a good mood. Now if we can only keep it up."

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Autissier's PRB

The capsize of Isabelle Autissier raised questions about the stability and safety of these kinds of boats. The speed was not for free. Everybody involved in this kind of racing knew the price they had to pay for the boat's velocity. The frequent crash jibes were one of the costs. Autissier and others already learned how to handle crash jibes, but the one, which caught Isabelle, was very costly.

Groupe Finot designer Pascal Conq explained some questions about the loss of PRB. He thought that there was no way that the boat could right itself with sails fully hoisted under water. Also the wave motion should assist in pushing the hull over. The newer designs were capable of self-righting, like it was proved by Soldini's Fila. During attempted transatlantic record sailing Fila was rolled and dismasted, and one of her crew lost at sea. Soldini was able to manually change the angle of his keel to assist in righting the boat. He did it from inside of the boat. Much older PRB missed many of the latest improvement.

Pascal Conq Photo Marek Slodownik  MSPascalConq.jpg (14087 bytes)

Knowing that, Autissier wanted to use inflated balloon method of righting the boat. A balloon could be inflated by compressed air and this would then destabilize the inverted hull and cause the righting moment. Unfortunately, at the end, the balloon system already made for PRB was never fixed on the boat for number of reasons. Mouligne's Cray Valley had a similar system installed in Cape Town, South Africa, but the system was never tested.

Finally some news were heard about Konioukhov. His son Oscar returned from abroad back to Moscow and reported that his father, a once-popular folk figure in Russia had become the target of negative press reports. By morning, Konioukhov was at 46.49 S, 163.44 W, and about 685 miles behind the last boat in the racing fleet - Paladin II. Konioukhov had 4780 miles to go to Punta del Este.

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The Southern Ocean

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Thiercelin

Somewhere

54 53S

063 41W

1018

13

0

2140

2

Soldini

Fila

56 13S

068 20W

1173

12.1

154.6

2140

3

Autissier

PRB

Rescued

by

Soldini

0

0

0

4

Hall

Gartmore

Retiring

to

Chatham Is.

0

0

0

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

56 04S

091 09W

1922

11.2

0

2144

2

Garside

Magellan Alpha

56 13S

095 39W

2070

11.9

147.7

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

55 16S

100 08W

2230

8.9

307.4

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

52 50S

105 58W

2471

9.6

549

2144

5

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

51 34S

139 05W

3591

6.4

1669.1

2144

6

Petersen

No Bariers

48 04S

143 46W

3852

6.4

1930

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

47 47S

148 51W

4032

5.9

2109.8

2144

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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