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Accueil Ocean Racing

Arkea Ultim Challenge : discovering the three mythical capes

In the echo of the Atlantic waves, where the salty air merges with the dream of great horizons, Brest stands as a prelude to oceanic adventures.

A Breton port steeped in the history of the great explorations, the maritime city is the stage for the boldest dreams of intrepid sailors.

It is from these quays that the Arkea Ultim Challenge sets off, a frantic race towards the three emblematic capes: the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn, with a return to Brest around 40 days later. The ideal opportunity to learn a little more about these three legendary capes.

The Cape of Good Hope : the cape of storms

The Cape of Good Hope, crowned with legends and swept by indomitable winds, is the first cape to be crossed by the Arkea Ultim Challenge.

Throughout the ages, the cape has witnessed numerous shipwrecks. The waters surrounding this South African region are said to contain a considerable number of shipwrecks, suggesting a density of around one wreck per kilometre of coastline. For the most part, these remains are the silent witnesses of the great European explorations and expeditions with tragic fates, particularly those bound for India and Asia.

In the 15th century, the Portuguese embarked on a daring exploration, dreaming of a route to India woven between the stormy waves of the cape. Bartolomeu Dias, in his quest for this route to the riches of the Orient, faced down furious winds and christened the place "Cabo das Tormentas" - the Cape of Storms. The king preferred to see it as a happy harbinger of glory and wealth. So he named it the "Cape of Good Hope".

The Cape of Good Hope is also believed to be the site of the shipwreck of the legendary Flying Dutchman.

The Cape Leeuwin : where oceans meet

Cape Leeuwin, the gateway between the Indian and Southern Oceans, is a gentle transition from the tumult of the Cape of Good Hope.

There are no epic maritime tragedies here, but rather a history marked by the discovery of Australian lands. In December 1801, Matthew Flinders named the cape after the Dutch ship "Leeuwin" (meaning "Lioness" in Dutch). This ship, which explored and mapped a portion of Australia's south-west coast in March 1622, was the seventh European vessel to sail to the Australian continent.

The Wardandi Aborigines were the first inhabitants of the region, and called the place "Doogalup".

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, inaugurated in 1896, is the most south-westerly lighthouse on the Australian continent.

The Cape Horn : where the seas run wild, legends are born

Cape Horn, the legendary promontory between the Pacific and the Atlantic, is a thrill for even the most seasoned sailors. The passage between the South Seas and the Atlantic is marked by frequent gales, creating an impressive dance where the sea roars with force.

In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company held a monopoly on Dutch commercial transport via the Strait of Magellan and the Cape of Good Hope, the only two known routes to the Far East at the time.

Looking for an alternative to break this monopoly, the Dutch merchant Jacob Le Maire, accompanied by the navigator Willem Schouten, set off on an expedition to Tierra del Fuego. Supported by the Dutch town of Hoorn, the expedition left the port with two ships, the Eendracht and the Hoorn, in May 1615. They discovered the cape and named it after their home town.

Although Schouten and Le Maire are officially the first to cross the cape, it is possible that other European sailors, such as Francis Drake, have already done so.

The Arkea Ultim Challenge will undoubtedly be a spectacular ocean race starting from Brest, known as the port of records at the tip of Brittany. Come and discover the giants of the seas moored along the Quai Malbert, take advantage of the village set up for the occasion, and follow the race news on the Arkea Ultim Challenge website.