What it’s like to be alone
Published on July 18th, 2018
(July 18, 2018; Day 18) – As the leading trio of Philippe Péché, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats position their Rustler 36s to cross the Doldrums, the dramas continue at the back of the fleet in the inaugural Golden Globe solo non-stop around the world yacht race.
Nabil Amra, the US based Palestinian sailing the Biscay 36 Liberty II, formally announced his retirement today after reaching Tenerife of the Canary Islands overnight. Competitors are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe.
Amra, who reported on July 16 that a weld had broken on his Beaufort windvane self-steering, made the decision not to continue. “Wind and waves in the teeth… sailing is better with friends,” he reported as he battled his way across 35knot winds en-route to Tenerife. “Violently ill now… no sleep for 4 days.”
Fellow American Istvan Kopar has announced that he intends to stop further down the course in the Cape Verde Islands to replace the self-steering system on his Tradewind 35 Puffin. Kopar will join Frenchman Antoine Cousot in the Chichester Class for those who are forced to make one stop during their solo circumnavigation.
Cousot stopped in Lanzarote on July 15 complaining that his WindPilot windvane steering could not control his Biscay 36 Métier Intérim, but after two days in port it became clear as he left Marina Rubicon on yesterday that his decision to drop down to the Chichester Class was as much mental as mechanical.
“I needed the break just to relieve the pressure,” admitted Cousot. “It was important for me mentally to make sure that everything is working…And it was good to have a hamburger and a beer! This is a personal challenge – a huge adventure. You have no idea, even reading Moitessier’s book and those of other singlehanders, about what it is like being alone. They talk about the sea and the environment, but they don’t talk about what is going on inside.”
As Cousot and his Biscay 36 Métier Intérim set out to sea again late yesterday, Race Director Don McIntyre noted how this pause was more a decision to stop, regroup, and think about what is going on.
“At the end of the day, the windvane issue was important, but Antoine had all the parts onboard and simply replaced a couple of bolts that had fallen out,” noted McIntyre. “No extra parts were brought onboard during his stay. There were also a few electrical issues.”
Kopar reported similar issues with his WindPilot self-steering as he passed through the Marina Rubicon gate on July 15 but elected to continue south. Yesterday, however, after he reported how he had a lot of manual steering and cursing rough seas, he informed Race HQ that he had decided to head to the Cape Verde Islands.
Kopar will replace his self-steering system for another brand, a stop that will drop him down to the Chichester Class, leaving just 12 of the original 17 starters competing in the Golden Globe Race.
Up at the front of the fleet, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has moved up to 2nd place and reduced fellow Frenchman Philippe Péché’s lead to 24 miles as they and Dutchman Mark Slats position themselves to cross the Doldrums, the area of calms that divide the North East and South East trade winds.
Péché’s Rustler 36 PRB is nearest to the Senegal coast, Slats (Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick) who caught a tasty tuna today – his first fresh meat since the start – is enjoying stronger winds to the west near the Cape Verde Islands and Van Den Heede (Rustler 36 Matmut) is running a median course between them.
The remainder of the GGR fleet is now spread 500 miles astern. The next compulsory turning gate for the fleet is off Hobart, Tasmania.
The 2018 Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the inaugural solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.
The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world Race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.
A notable twist to 2018 Golden Globe Race format is how entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.
The rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do gain assistance move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.
Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.