Everyone's heading south for the winter


As the nights draw in and the winter gales increase, the Solent begins to empty. Soon, the usual crowds of dinghies, yachts and motorboats will be gone, replaced by a lone seagull, a handful of committed racers and sailing schools taking advantage of cheap rates.

But while the UK’s most popular sailing area empties, another fills up. The desolate wastes of the Southern Ocean are set to be positively overflowing with yachts over the next few months. The Cape of Good Hope will look more like St Catherine’s Point during the Round the Island race.

The Volvo Ocean race’s powered up monster VO70s have already blasted their way round the cape, with six hardy amateurs in their Open 40s from the Portimão Global Ocean Race following close behind. The twenty-six remaining Vendée Globe competitors are currently approaching the doldrums, hot on the heels of Pete Goss and family in the replica mounts bay lugger, Spirit of Mystery.

Following them comes Michael Perham, the 16-yr old British schoolboy hoping to become the world’s youngest circumnavigator in his Open 50, Totallymoney.com. Behind the lot of them comes legendary French sailor Thomas Coville and his maxi-trimaran Sodebo, set on claiming the solo, non stop record from his arch-rival Francis Joyon.

The Atlantic and Southern Oceans look like they’ll be pretty busy over the next few months…