3 Great Capes

Cape de Bonne Espérance, Leeuwin & Horn.

In sailing, the great capes are three major capes of the continents in the Southern Ocean — Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s Cape Horn.

A great cape, for us, can’t be expressed in longitude and latitude alone. A great cape has a soul, with very soft, very violent shadows and colours. A soul as smooth as a child’s, as hard as a criminal’s. And that is why we go. – BERNARD MOITESSIER


The traditional clipper route followed the winds of the roaring forties south of the great capes. Due to the significant hazards they presented to shipping, the great capes became significant landmarks in ocean voyaging. A circumnavigation via the great capes is considered to be a noteworthy achievement.

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula (South Africa), about 2.3 km  west and a little south of Cape Point on the south-east corner.

As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has long been of special significance to sailors, many of whom refer to it simply as “the Cape“.


The first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East (although Herodotus mentioned a claim that the Phoenicians had done so far earlier). Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas (“Cape of Storms”; Dutch: Stormkaap), which was the original name of the “Cape of Good Hope”.

The Cape of Good Hope is the legendary home of The Flying Dutchman. Crewed by tormented and damned ghostly sailors, it is doomed forever to beat its way through the adjacent waters without ever succeeding in rounding the headland.

Adamastor is a Greek-type mythological character invented by the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões in his epic poem Os Lusíadas (first printed in 1572), as a symbol of the forces of nature Portuguese navigators had to overcome during their discoveries and more specifically of the dangers Portuguese sailors faced when trying to round the Cape of Storms.

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin is the most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian Continent, in the state of Western Australia. In Australia, the Cape is considered the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Cape Leeuwin 3

Matthew Flinders named Cape Leeuwin after the first known ship to have visited the area is the Leeuwin (“Lioness”), a Dutch vessel that charted some of the nearby coastline in 1622.

Cape Horn

Cape Horn (Spanish: Cabo de Hornos) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island. Although not the most southerly point of South America (which are the Diego Ramírez Islands), Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage and marks where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.


Cape Horn was discovered and first rounded by the Dutchman Willem Schouten, who named it Kaap Hoorn  after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands.

The waters around Cape Horn are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors’ graveyard. Sailing around the Horn is widely regarded as one of the major challenges in yachting.

cape horn-rock

Several factors combine to make the passage around Cape Horn one of the most hazardous shipping routes in the world: the fierce sailing conditions prevalent in the Southern Ocean generally; the geography of the passage south of the Horn; and the extreme southern latitude of the Horn, at 56° south. The prevailing winds in latitudes below 40° south can blow from west to east around the world almost uninterrupted by land, giving rise to the “roaring forties” and the even more wild “furious fifties” and “screaming sixties”. These winds are exacerbated at the Horn by the funneling effect of the Andes and the Antarctic peninsula, which channel the winds into the relatively narrow Drake Passage. The strong winds of the Southern Ocean give rise to correspondingly large waves; these waves can attain great height as they roll around the Southern Ocean, free of any interruption from land. At the Horn, however, these waves encounter an area of shallow water to the south of the Horn, which has the effect of making the waves shorter and steeper, greatly increasing the hazard to ships. If the strong eastward current through the Drake Passage encounters an opposing east wind, this can have the effect of further building up the waves. In addition to these “normal” waves, the area west of the Horn is particularly notorious for rogue waves, which can attain heights of up to 30 meters. Ice is a hazard to sailors venturing far below 40° south. Although the ice limit dips south around the horn, icebergs are a significant hazard for vessels in the area. In the South Pacific in February icebergs are generally confined to below 50° south; but in August the iceberg hazard can extend north of 40° south. Even in February, the Horn is well below the latitude of the iceberg limit. These hazards have made the Horn notorious as perhaps the most dangerous ship passage in the world; many ships were wrecked, and many sailors died attempting to round the Cape.


Owing to the remoteness of the location and the hazards there, a rounding of Cape Horn is widely considered to be the yachting equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, and so many sailors seek it for its own sake.

Source: Wikipedia

Cover photo: Francois Denis

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It has been a while since the last time a Croatian sailing yacht circumnavigated the World… so we want to change that with our project ‘HIR 3 across 3 Oceans’. We plan to sail around the World on board a legendary 34 foot ‘HIR 3’, like Mladen Šutej, Ozren Bakrač and many others did 30 years ago. It’s a unique opportunity to test the best people, equipment and products in the extreme ocean conditions! Everyone and everything that circumnavigates the globe and rounds the Cape Horn will be worth something:) We are filming a documentary about it, writing a book and all the media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and internet) is already covering our story…


Join us! Drop us a line… sasa.fegic@gmail.com. We believe that it’s a great marketing opportunity…


Famous  Croatian skipper, Mladen Šutej bought the boat in 1979 from an Italian shipyard…

The boat was named ‘HIR 3’ (Caprice). The history of the name dates back to his grandfather who started to build his first boat at the age of 65 and when people asked him why, he simply replied… it is my caprice. The first Mladen’s boat was ‘Hir 2’, and logically, this one was named ‘HIR 3’.

Based on his experience, he wanted to buy a 10-meter sailing yacht to cross the Atlantic, so she had to be quality build, have a full skeg, wide hull, lead keel and solid mast and rigging. Mladen bought a CAT 34 from a small Italian shipyard named after the owners (Carlo Alberto Tibreio) as a bare hull with mast and deck equipment. One interesting fact. Interior is made of expensive teak, but the wood came from an old stand on which one boat from Italy was delivered to the port of Rijeka. The boat was finished in marina Punat in 1980 after spent 2000 working hours.

The boat then went across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, then to Florida and back across the Atlantic to Craoatia.

Next voyage of HIR 3 was around the World via Cape Horn which makes this a truly legendary boat…

35 episodes of a documentary film ‘Sails around the World’ were filmed and shown on Croatian national television.

Mladen Šutej published two books about ocean sailing on board ‘HIR 3’‘Atlantic Challenge’ and ‘Sailing around Cape Horn’.


She was badly damaged with holes on the hull near the waterline during occupation of marina Dubrovnik, but Mladen Šutej managed to save and restore her.

The boat was then sold and moved to Vrsar in Istria, but later she was forgotten and neglected…


Technical Specifications:

LOA: 10.34 m

Beam: 3.30 m

Draft: 1.80 m

Displacement: 5.300 kg

Ballast: 2.500 kg

Mast: 15 m

Engine: Lombardini 25 HP