Four Minutes On Her Side

The whole VOR fleet is finally in the Southern Ocean right on the heels of ex-Cyclone Pam (which, really, is such a bad name for a cyclone), where they've been averaging 20 knots of boat speed.

One of the revelations in the grounding report was that the operations surrounding a gybe often take as much as 30 minutes to complete. So it was shocking to wake up this morning and find out that three of the six boats suffered crash gybes. Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team, and MAPFRE all reported suffering through the death roll without any serious damage. Team Abu Dhabi apparently went through a massive wipe out followed by a "controlled" gybe at 30 knots. Onboard Team Dongfeng, two crew members have never sailed in more than 30 knots of wind and only three have passed Cape Horn.

We don't have video of that, but we do have video of MAPFRE getting blown over on her side at roughly 8 p.m., 2000 miles from shore, with only three crewmembers on deck. The boat is on her side for four minutes, pinned there with the canting keel on the wrong side.

The crew reports that "Everybody on board is OK, only some damage to the J2 and mainsail." MAPFRE is currently in third. "The members of the crew who were sleeping were crushed between their bunk and the deck," wrote Francisco Vignale onboard MAPFRE. "A situation quite uncomfortable for those people with claustrophobia." Wait. Now that begs a question...

The leg sees the boats around Cape Horn and then back up the Atlantic to the coast of Brazil. "There's nowhere else on earth where you can do so much fast downwind sailing for so long," Aby Dhabi navigator Simon Fisher told The Daily Sail. The fact that three of the boats have already seen so much action shows that Pam is going to be a bigger force than originally thought.