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World racer faces more trash than storms

Feb 3, 2011
<p>Ryan Breymaier ducks a wave aboard Team Neutrogena.</p>

Ryan Breymaier ducks a wave aboard Team Neutrogena.

The sole American in the Barcelona World Race, Ryan Breymaier, aboard the raceboat Team Neutrogena, has now entered the Southern Ocean and on the way south through the South Atlantic it wasn't so much the raging storms he noticed as the widespread amount of trash in the ocean. Though Team Neutrogena has had good weather so far, they know it's only a matter of time before the Southern Ocean hits them hard.

From the press release: The Southern Ocean, notorious for its big swells, high winds and frigid temperature, normally allows only the most seasoned sailors to leave its grips unscathed. Ryan Breymaier, the sole U.S. participant in the Barcelona World Race, has found the merciless weather conditions to be much tamer than expected, and instead, the major obstacles at sea look a lot different. “I have sailed across the Atlantic five times and the last trip back from Costa Rica was pretty bad with plastic,” said Breymaier. “But now having crossed the equator and sailed into the Southern Hemisphere, all along the periphery of the South Atlantic there was nothing but trash in the water constantly.”

Breymaier is currently 33 days into the 25,000 nautical mile (46,300 km) race, which includes 2,000 hours of non-stop competition across three vast oceans, two hemispheres, and around three famous Capes. He is competing against 15 doublehanded teams on his first-ever voyage around the world with co-skipper Boris Herrmann (Germany).

“The Southern Ocean is usually regarded as such a big feat because it is one and a half months of unrelenting weather. People say that it is no big deal for a couple of days but that the long period of time exposed to the extreme conditions is what makes it difficult,” said Breymaier. “Down south you can easily be out of range of traditional means of rescue such as planes and helicopters.”

Though the downwind conditions are lighter than average, race officials have been forced to move Gate 5 (the Crozet Island ice gate in the southern Indian Ocean) farther north due to icebergs. “Since we are sailing farther north, the conditions are more variable, and if we play the weather systems correctly then we have an opportunity to pass competitors.”

Team Neutrogena is expected to cross through Gate 5 within the next day and will then be heading towards Cape Leeuwin (Australia) and Cook Strait (New Zealand). “We are pushing the boat as hard as we can every possible minute,” said Breymaier. “We have small waves and only 20 knots of wind, so we are not worried about breaking things. We have every scrap of sail up and are changing sails frequently to keep the optimum configuration,” said Breymaier. “The good thing about getting further into the south and out of the Atlantic is that we are in a much more uninhabited area with very little connection to the rest of the oceans.”

As for Team Neutrogena’s trash disposal method Breymaier says, “We keep the plastic and other non-biodegradable waste. We put it in a trash bag and then a watertight compartment when it’s full. When we get to Barcelona it is going to be my job to empty it. I wouldn’t pawn that off onto anyone else.”