Sailing: A Certain Elation

Blue-water yachtsmen who have made the 1,200-mile thrash from Argentina to Brazil are convinced that the triennial Buenos Aires-Rio race is the most infuriating test of men and boats yet devised. The prevailing northeasterly head winds often hit 40 knots or more. Complicating matters is the mast-snapping pampeiro, a westerly-land wind that frequently howls off the pampas at even greater force—only to die in a sudden, glassy calm. The Brazilian Curfent—the backwash of the Gulf Stream—is supposed to flow southward at two or three knots. But it weaves like a snake and...