Leg 7 threw everything at the crew. It was relentless, with some veteran Volvo Ocean Race sailor's describing it as the toughest Southern Ocean leg they recall for many races.
This was a monumental leg with 6 of the 10-crew rounding Cape Horn for the first time. For some it will be the first of many, for others it will be the first and last but for all it will be a rounding which they remember for ever. It was the culmination of some amazing sailing and the result of strong leadership of Skipper Dee Caffari, Watch Captain Liz Wardley and Navigator Brian Thompson.
Leg 7 was the best leg yet in terms of performance for Turn the Tide on Plastic. Navigator Brian Thompson said: "I think this leg was our best leg so far and at the beginning of the leg I don't think we would have expected to be within sight of the leaders at Cape Horn. Before we left Auckland, we would have been over joyed with that."
Thompson says the improved performance comes as a result of smart sailing and good seamanship skills by the crew on Leg 7. "We kept the boat together and had the same boat speed as the leaders. It was really impressive," said Thompson.
In Leg 3, the first Southern Ocean leg, Turn the Tide on Plastic didn't have the boat speed or experience to push the boat to keep up with the rest of the fleet. All the teams have continued to learn the boat better with each leg and keep pushing to get the maximum performance from the VO65s. However, our young and relatively inexperienced crew on board Turn the Tide on Plastic have kept pace and with more time on the water, a strong determination to improve and a hunger to get on the podium, the team has continually performed better and has now reached a level much closer to the leading teams.
"Until the Falkland Islands we were right there in the leading 5 boats and then unfortunately we had our rig issues, Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing broke their rig and as a result we fell out of the best wind. Our finish three days behind Team Akzo Nobel did not really represent where we should have finished because we were unlucky with the weather. It bodes really well for the future legs. In the toughest conditions, heavy air downwind we can keep up. It's given everyone a lot of confidence," said Thompson.
The rounding of Cape Horn and the performance of the team in Leg 7 is a huge achievement. The remaining legs promise to be a great race to watch. For now the team is taking time in Itajaí, Brazil to get some much-needed rest before the next leg to Newport.