As the Volvo Ocean Race fleet passes Point Nemo, the closest people are the astronauts on the International Space Station…
Point Nemo is defined as the place furthest from land in the world. And as it happens, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will pass quite close to this isolated spot it this weekend.
Point Nemo is located over 1,600 miles (1,400 nautical miles) from the Pitcairn islands to the north, the Easter Islands to the north-east and Antarctica to the south.
On this Southern Ocean leg, the fleet is actually passing to the south of the theoretical position of Point Nemo, named after Captain Nemo from the Jules Verne story.
This is where the sailors are closer to the astronauts on the International Space Station than they are to any earthly inhabitation.
And that’s not the only relationship between Point Nemo and space. For decades, Point Nemo has been a ‘space junk’ graveyard, where hundreds of decommissioned satellites and the like are jettisoned as they re-enter earth’s atmosphere.
They are deposited here to avoid the risk of hitting anyone, or anything. It truly is the most isolated place on earth.
Except this weekend when the Volvo Ocean Race fleet passes by.
Team Brunel led the fleet across the longitude of Point Nemo, passing just over 200 miles south of it at approximately 04:38 UTC on Sunday morning.
While in the remote reaches of the Southern Ocean, the fleet will also be contributing to the Volvo Ocean Race Scientific Programme, thanks to the support of Volvo Cars and a scientific consortium including NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), JCOMMOPS (UNESCO-IOC), GEOMAR and SubCtech.
Weather data from the boats is being collected every 10 seconds and via Race HQ in Alicante, will be passed on to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts to help these agencies improve their weather models in this remote part of the planet.
Drifter buoys were deployed earlier in the leg to help with longer term data gathering, and two of the boats are collecting samples to help with analysis of ocean health, including microplastics.