The very mention of the Southern Ocean sends shivers down the spines of even the saltiest of ocean sailors – so spare a thought for the race’s first timers as they head into the unknown.
"The older, experienced guys are walking around looking nervous which doesn’t help!" - Dave Swete
The conditions that lie in wait in the world’s most remote ocean are guaranteed to push man and boat to the max – and for those going into the Southern Ocean for the first time, they do so with trepidation.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit nervous,” said PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG’s Rome Kirby, who at 22 is the youngest sailor in the fleet.
“Listening to the weather forecast I was like ‘whoah’. We’re going to take a bit of a beating but hey, that’s because we’re going into the Southern Ocean.”
Kirby’s dad Jerry, a three-time veteran of the race, had some words of wisdom for his son ahead of Sunday’s Leg 5 starts.
“He said, ‘You’re gonna love it, this is what you came here for, why you do a Volvo,'” Kirby added. “But after the weather briefing we had I am not so sure!”
More used to professional inshore racing than ocean sailing, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand under-30 Adam Minoprio is another facing a Southern Ocean induction.
“I’m a bit apprehensive – it’s my first Southern Ocean leg,” said Minoprio, the youngest ever sailor to win the World Match Racing Tour.
“We’re halfway through the race and I’m comfortable with the boat but now we’re going down where it’s cold, there’s big waves and a lot of wind. It’s going to be a whole different world I think.
It’s a similar story for Sanya’s Dave Swete, who up until six months ago was sailing on the match racing circuit.
“I’m a bit apprehensive about this next little bit,” he said prior to leaving Auckland. “The older, experienced guys are walking around looking nervous which doesn’t help!
“They told us it’s going to be the best and hardest sailing of our lives, and that’s about it. I can tell just by the looks on their faces that it’s going to be hard.”