Southern Ocean The UAE's Adel Khalid — the first Gulf national to take part in the global sailing odyssey, the Volvo Ocean Race — said rounding South America's Cape Horn would be like "climbing Mount Everest".
Expected to reach the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile on Sunday as part of Leg 5 of the 39,000 nautical miles round-the-world race, Khalid, an Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew member, is only too aware of the daunting task ahead.
"This is it, my Mount Everest. When I look back at all the work that we have done to be here, it is amazing. More than 15 months ago, I was standing in Abu Dhabi waiting to find out if I had been chosen to be a part of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Now, I am on the deck of one of the world's most sophisticated race yachts with the world's best sailors, thousands of miles from civilisation, in one of the world's most inhospitable environments, and I can't wait!" the Emirati said.
"I know we haven't even begun to see how angry the Southern Ocean can get. Some of the fleet has taken a battering so far and we still have a long way to go. For me, I am just getting my head down, doing the jobs in front of me, and praying that I get lucky."
For the Emirati Olympian, just being in the 6,700 nautical mile Southern Ocean race leg from New Zealand to Brazil is an achievement. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set off on Leg 5 in commanding form only to suspend racing and return to Auckland with a broken J4 bulkhead.