Harken Derm

Golden Globe: Watching the Buffalo Gals

Published on August 6th, 2018

(August 6, 2018; Day 37) – This week should determine who leads the Golden Globe Race. Forget the computer standings as the tracker is looking at how far the boats are from the tip of South Africa, and while a direct line may be the shortest distance, it’s generally not the fastest route.

The fleet of singlehanders are in the South Atlantic, descending in a southerly direction amid the southeast tradewinds, with all eyes on the South Atlantic High pressure system to determine the best course of action. And as is often the case, the buffalo gals go around the outside, ’round the outside.

Dutchman Mark Slats sailing the Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick may be back in 11th on the leaderboard, but this is due to taking the most westerly route to avoid the High and seek better winds. While sailing extra miles, Slats is the furthest south and is now starting to cash in his chips and turn east toward Cape Town.

Alternatively, fellow Frenchmen Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (Rustler 36 Matmut) and Philippe Péché (Rustler 36 PRB) are taking a more central route down the Atlantic. Van Den Heede recently moved into the lead simply by virtue of being closest to the computer lay line between the Cape Verde Islands and the Cape of Good Hope.

He and Péché are 100 miles apart in terms of longitude and Péché is 37 miles further south, but both are caught on the western side of the High and running into light airs.

Slats, almost 800 miles west of the leader, is now experiencing a stronger, more favourable northwesterly airstream and making 7 knots – about 1.5knots faster than his rivals.

The remaining fleet is equally divided on their tactics. Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin (Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance), India’s Abhilash Tomy (Suhaili replica Thuriya), Frenchman Loïc Lepage (Nicholson 32 Laaland) and Australian Mark Sinclair (Lello 34 Coconut) are all following Slats’ example, while Estonia’s Uku Randmaa (Rustler 36 One and All), Norwegian Are Wiig (OE 32 Olleanne), Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen (Gaia 36 Asteria) and Russian Igor Zaretskiy (Endurance 35 Esmeralda) are continuing down the shorter easterly route.

Only Britain’s Susie Goodall (Rustler 36 DHL Starlight) is making the break from the eastern group and sliding to the west.

For some, the past week has been one of niggles. McGuckin and American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar (Tradewind 35 Puffin) have suffered broken halyards, which have meant climbing to the top of their masts to replace them. Frenchman Antoine Cousot (Biscay 36 Métier Intérim), now relegated to the Chichester Class following his stop in the Canaries, twisted his ankle while changing headsails on the foredeck.

Cousot also reported engine issues, a problem shared by Lehtinen who messaged two days ago that his new engine with just 49 hours of running time stops after 5 seconds. The Finn is also struggling with power from the many solar panels on Asteria which instead of producing 300 watts are generating just 3 watts. Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has been suffering similar problems with some of the solar panels on Matmut, but still has his water generator and engine to keep batteries charged.

Igor Zaretskiy, who had to make major repairs a week agoto the mainsheet system on his Endurance 35 Esmeralda, has been suffering from steering issues over the past few days. The Russian complained that he could only turn the wheel one way and had to employ the mizzen sail in order to tack the boat through the wind.

Mark Sinclair has also been using nature’s forces to help with the mechanics aboard his yacht Coconut by changing headsails in heavy winds by trailing the halyards behind the boat to hoist the new sail.

Water is now becoming an issue. While gale force winds and squalls have been a continuing thread since crossing the Equator, they have not been accompanied by the usual rain showers in the South East Trades or in the Doldrums. Most skippers have consumed around 100 litres during the first month and now the priority is to collect fresh water to supplement their meager supplies.

The next compulsory turning gate for the fleet is off Hobart, Tasmania.

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Background:
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 the 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 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.

Source: GGR

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