Ireland’s solo star Enda O Coineen has successfully rounded Cape Horn through the weekend in his combined-resources Open 60 Team Ireland/Soufle du Nord writes W M Nixon. In doing so he has transformed his sailing conditions from a severe 49-knots plus nor’wester west of the Horn in his final miles in the Pacific Ocean, into more gentle conditions as he shapes his course into the Atantic.
In traditional maritime parlance, the Galway veteran has “doubled the Horn”. And the extremes of weather relatively late in the season have tested his skill and resolve even further after an often very rugged passage from New Zealand.
Ireland’s Cape Horn pioneer Conor O’Brien – sailing with a crew in the 42ft Saoirse in 1924 – rounded Cape Horn in relatively benign conditions early in December. But in his much later approaches to Cape Horn, it was like winter for O Coineen.
The latter half of February is already getting late in the preferred time window, and as he neared “The Big One”, the Irish skipper and boat were tested again and again. Now this ultimate of headlands is safely astern, and though there are still thousands of miles to sail to his finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne, the most demanding hurdle of all has been safely negotiated.