Throwback Thursday: Fleet start race across Southern Ocean

30 October 2014

“The race start in Cape Town and what came after are memories that will never fade away in my life,” says Andrea Sangiorgi, a 46 year-old Italian Solicitor based in Hong Kong, as he reflects on the race start from South Africa to Albany, Western Australia.

The fleet set off with 15 knots of wind in front of the smooth profile of Table Mountain to start the 4,700-mile Southern Ocean sleigh ride in Leg 3 Race 4 – the Kinjarling Cup.

It was a tight start that saw Andrea’s team Qingdao second across the line to take on the Cape of Good Hope and the Roaring Forties for some of the most extreme and exhilarating sailing in the world.

“Our skipper Gareth Glover guided us through a great start and we turned the second windward mark ready to hoist the kite, battling with GREAT Britain and Henri Lloyd for every inch of progress on the water,” says Andrea.

The beginning of each race sees the teams study the course and weather. In the race that was sure to keep the crew on their toes, Qingdao’s tactic was to go south to avoid the shadow of the coastal mountains, before it headed up west to try to get into the Roaring Forties sleigh ride as soon as possible and be carried fast towards Western Australia. The aim was to avoid the possibility of being caught in a big system of high pressure which would have slowed it down for the last few hundred miles.

Andrea adds: “We knew that the Southern Ocean was not an easy ride - we had been warned of big swells and strong winds but what we experienced was out of the ordinary. From the lighter winds of the first couple of days we passed not so gradually to 40 knots of wind. Indeed we were the first, as we were leading the race, to be hit by a storm of 9 or 10 on the Beaufort scale by the end of the second week at sea, bringing winds of over 70 knots with gusts of three digits! You will never be prepared to face towers of roaring water that then lift your boat onto their peaks and launching you down at 35 crazy knots of speed without being sure if the boat will go down on a straight line or sideways.”

Watch the start from Cape Town, South Africa here

To find out more about Leg 3, click here

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