• 11-MAR-2015

Leg 5 route animation and overall presentation

Leg 5 presentation by Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante:

Strong winds, deep waves, freezing temperatures and albatrosses – this leg is made of all the Southern Ocean clichés. To make it across the Roaring Forties in one piece before rounding Cape Horn and sailing along the South American coast is an achievement in itself.

The start from Auckland can be dangerous if a tropical system drifts south and gets into a powerful low pressure with strong north winds. One of the leg's most dangerous situations is the presence of ice and you have got to stay north of the 40° S. But by staying north of that latitude, a tropical system is very likely to be on your route and you'll have to sail in strong easterlies – that would be the worst scenario.

Low pressures travel so fast in the South Pacific that they have a big impact on the sea state. The swell has no fixed direction and it's difficult to direct your boat to preserve it. Temperatures are freezing down there and relative humidity is close to 100%. Everything is full of water!

Another big thing is obviously the approach to Cape Horn. There are around 500 miles between the Cape and the northern tip of Antarctica. Worst case is the northwesterly wind because the Andes physical situation increases its strength by more than 100%.

After the Horn comes the return to civilisation, which means returning to an aggressive strategy at short and medium ranges. Most frequently you want to stay as much time as possible into the westerlies by staying close to the Argentinean coast, before getting into the variable weather related to the South Atlantic High.

Getting closer to Brazil and Florianopolis, thunderstorms appear and threaten the fleet until the arrival in Itajaí.