Today, 400 years ago the myth of Cape Horn was born: we tell you the story


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It was January 29, 1616, only 400 years ago, when two Dutchmen, Jakob Le Maire and Willem Schouten
(above in a print of the time), first rounded Cape Horn, the world’s most feared and dangerous passage. Supported by merchants from the town of Hoorn, they decided to organize an expedition to try to circumvent the monopoly of the East India Company, which controlled the sea passages from the east to Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope, and from the west from South America and the Strait of Magellan, the only known routes at the time.

They armed two boats, the Hoorn and the Eendracht, and sailed from Texel in June 1615 to the unknown. The Hoorn disappeared into thin air, but the Eendracht, on January 29, 1616, after months of very hard sailing, rounded what was christened Cape Hoorn (and which we call Horn) in honor of their fitting-out port. For the record, their journey ended at the island of Java.

This opened up a new route that fueled trade and the myth of the most dangerous navigation on all the seas. Also in January, on the 16th of 1911, we also celebrate the passage of the first pleasure boat, the 11-meter Australian yawl Pandora.
The two skippers passed Cape Horn unscathed and then scuffed south of the Falkland Islands. Since then, dubbing Cape Horn has been regarded by sailors as climbing Everest. The last of the “Cape Horners,” in order of time, was Franck Cammas, who lapped it aboard a small catamaran equipped with foils. It is estimated that for now, no more than 2,500 sailors in 400 years have succeeded in the feat.



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