t's early on December 13, 2017. We’re somewhere in the Southern Ocean, between Cape Town and the big frozen continent at the bottom of Earth, three days into the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s been a full-tilt southerly blitz to the “Ice Gate,” a virtual boundary established by race organizers, a no-go zone to keep the fleet away from bergs and growlers. The boundary lies ahead, but to our west is a low-pressure system that will pack a punch. The smell of breakfast permeates the moist interior as the sailors who have just come off watch warm up and refuel with hot porridge. The conversation between skipper Xabi Fernández and navigator Juan Vila seems to carry more weight than usual. They weigh the pros and cons of their battle plan. There’s much to consider about the drag race to zone: how hard to push, the ramifications if something breaks, the strength of the storm, and how to get the most wind and stamina out of the crew. The safe, conservative approach is to hedge north, like some of the other teams are doing. The alternative is to press on toward the zone. The danger is, should something break and they need to run downwind, there’s no margin for error. Cross into the zone and get pegged with a penalty. But the rewards for those who dare to go deeper are tremendous. There’s more wind and more speed. Once there, however, the routing software plots a manic line of zigzags along the boundary.