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Volvo Ocean Race, Cooling off in first taste of Southern Ocean

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Volvo Ocean Race, Leg 3
Volvo Ocean Race, Leg 3

Six of the seven Volvo Ocean Race boats remain in the Roaring Forties this morning, south of 40-degrees latitude, in the area where strong low pressure systems circle the planet bringing stong winds and mountainous waves.

But that's not the experience they're seeing at the moment. The wind is around 10 knots. Boat speeds are in the same area. It's been a relatively benign 24 hours. But that will all change soon.

"We are getting our first little bit of Southern Ocean taste, the water temperature starts dropping, the gloves and hoodies are out," said Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking. "The breeze has been very up and down yesterday, sometimes gaining, but last night had a big loss. Could see clearly the lights of Mapfre and Akzo, but then the breeze dropped to 6 knots out of nothing... (But) tonight the breeze will build quickly as a low pressure esystem is approaching, it will be the first wild ride."

The forecast is for winds in the 35 knot range, with gusts much stronger. Seas of over 6-meters are expected. 

The entire fleet has now gybed to the north, with Dongfeng Race Team still holding a narrow lead over MAPFRE.

The fastest boat on the 0700 UTC position report is Turn the Tide on Plastic, well to the North of the fleet and in stronger winds at the moment. 

For rookies and veterans alike, the Southern Ocean holds a mystique. Here is a tribute - unsigned - from Team MAPFRE.

"You are beautiful, mysterious and full of wonder. Many wish to experience your full beauty and strength but few will. We are excited to be out here with you, and a little nervous. It seems you have quite a welcome party planned for us over the next few days starting off with a pre-party of 30 kts to get us warmed up then revving it up full force to 40+ kts for a 3 day ocean bashing rave, topped off with a bit of tricky manoeuvring around the Ice-Gate to keep us on our toes. We've noted the dress code and will be fully prepared with our best cold weather kit and many layers. Some of us have met you before, others are meeting you for the first time. We've been warned about these parties and to expect the unexpected. Surprises are your specialty. It sounds like quite the welcome party. I know that we all came down here for an adventure but please don’t be too brutal. Thank you for the invite and see you at the party!"

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