Giant berg chastises sailor

Vendée Globe sailor Jonny Malbon on Artemis Ocean Racing II snapped this picture of a 400m high iceberg as he passed through the Kerguelen Ice Gate, dropping below 45°S. 

His latest missive; ‘Iceberg spotted! Lots of squalls this morning, with 40 knots of freezing wind in them and raining ice. Came through one, and saw a target on the radar – as I came out of the squall there she was, a very big iceberg. Well over 400m long and 60-80m high I would say. Passed to leeward of it by 4 miles, but still, makes you wonder about sailing so fast through the night!!!”

“A long windy night once again – much more than the models suggested. Had a tough day yesterday, with damage to the traveller system getting worse. Managed to twist my ankle badly as well. Water temp at 7 degrees, and very cold on board. Breeze should ease a little today before the big blow starts late tonight as the front goes through. 45 knots forecast, so would expect over 50 in the gusts. Not looking forward to that very much.”

Having passed south of the first of the great Capes (South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope), the Vendée fleet will now ride the weather systems of the Southern Ocean all the way round to Cape Horn. And the deep South looks set to continue to deliver some strong winds as storms build at the front and back of the pack.

It will be hard work for Jonny battling up to 50 knots of wind with a twisted ankle, but as he commented: “The reality of the southern ocean is here – we will be looking to take a massive dive south after the gate. It is already colder – spent last night in oilskins, gloves, and a woolly hat! It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better!”

The beginning of week 5 saw Jonny battening down the hatches as huge seas and winds in excess of 40 knots battered his home, with the boat hurtling along at over 25 knots as she surfed down the enormous waves.

Although frustrating at times as Malbon seeks to get the most out of his new generation IMOCA 60, Jonny has knuckled down to the task, altering sail configurations and points of sail in order to see what works best. Despite the disappointment of losing miles to the leaders and the pack of British skippers just ahead of him, Malbon has not let his head drop and has risen to the challenge, committed to chasing down those boats ahead.

“Only a few days ago I was within spitting distance of 4 boats, having fought hard to get back in the game. Since we have turned downwind however things have changed and I am once again, having to learn how to sail the boat in these conditions. I have not got it right yet; it is so frustrating. It is not the boat’s fault; I do not know how to get the most out of her right now.”

With 17,000 miles still to go until the finish, there is plenty of time for Malbon to learn how to make Artemis Ocean Racing II tick. And as evidenced by the sad news of the dismasting of Gitana, anything is possible in the Vendée Globe.”