Storm claims Golden Globe Race leader

Published on November 5th, 2018

(November 5, 2018; Day 128) – Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who has led the Golden Globe Race for the past three months, notified race officials that his Rustler 36 Matmut had been knocked down badly to about 150° in the South Pacific, approximately 1900nm from Cape Horn.

While his mast is not in danger of falling, the incident had damaged the connecting bolt attachment to the mast that holds all four lower shrouds. The bolt has slipped 5cm down in the mast section and slackened the rigging.

The 73-year old race Frenchman from Les Sables d’Olonne is still in the storm with 11 metre seas and 65 knot winds, and was now running downwind with no sails until conditions improve. He will then effect a repair that will allow him to hoist sail again and aim for Valparaiso, Chile where he will make a permanent repair.

He was not injured during the knock-down, has requested no assistance at this time, and remains confident he can make Valparaiso safely. However, this will mean he can no longer contend for the Golden Globe Race, with his stop to effect repairs moving him to the Chichester Class. Mark Slats and his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick is currently 2046 nm behind in second position.

In 5th position, Istvan Kopar, the American/Hungarian GGR skipper sailing the Tradewind 35 Puffin, is the latest competitor to pass through the mandatory gate in Storm Bay, Tasmania. During his required stop, Kopar gave a chilling account of the recent Indian Ocean storm to have swept the through the fleet of the mid-placed competitors

“I am not happy in my ship, I can tell you!” exclaimed an exhausted Kopar who had been forced to seek shelter off South Port beach, before continuing on around Tasmania’s South East Cape. Trying to make landfall during the height of the storm and find a safe anchorage at night was he said, “Brutal – The last four days have taken me to the bottom. I would have been much happier to have been offshore.”

He arrived at the Hobart stop without a radio, direction finder nor an accurate idea of time. “You really don’t know where you are and it was blowing a minimum of 50 knots. Right now, I’m more attracted to gardening than offshore sailing.”

Kopar blamed a lack of preparation for his poor start to the race. “I dropped to last place before I could work out how to fix my self-steering, and had never put my spinnaker up before the start – that first time was scary!

“My main goal is to save the rig, save the boat and to arrive back at the finish. Right now, I feel closer to Joshua Slocum’s achievement (first to sail solo around the world in 1895-1898) than Robin Knox-Johnston’s (first to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation and win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968/69). I can’t even get a time signal – It’s not good. Everything is guesswork.”

Kopar’s ‘bad luck’ started with getting to grips with an unfamiliar wind vane self-steering system at the start and extends to a rogue wave that washed out much his electronics and books, and flooded the main cabin with 300 litres of water. The last straw was a bird that attempted to land on his masthead wind vane, bending one of the arms into his VHF radio antennae and interrupt the signal.

He didn’t check his fresh water tank before the start and says now. “In Ghana they have cleaner water than I do.” He also added that the inside of his mould-ridden boat “is not healthy – not good at all.”

Could these situations be affecting his hands? “My nails are separating from the flesh. Cuts don’t bother me, but I’m scared about the state of my nails. They are black. I don’t know if it is caused by a fungal infection, the drinking water, or the fungus inside the boat.”

He bemoans chasing cross the Atlantic to get to the start on time, rather than focusing on getting to know his boat. But still smiling, he added more positively. “Now I am on catch-up and would like to catch up with Susie Goodall in 4th place – I gave my word to her mother before the start that I would look after her,” he joked.

There is certainly a race now, not for 4th, but to capture a podium position at the finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne. Kopar, Goodall and even 6th placed Tapio Lehtinen, due to reach Hobart tomorrow all have eyes on third placed Estonian Uku Randmaa and his struggle to maintain pace with his barnacle encrusted yacht One and All.

Problems continue with the performance of last placed runners Australian Mark Sinclair and Russian Igor Zaretskiy, now a whole ocean apart from Jean-Luc’s Rustler 36 Matmut. Zaretskiy, who has had his problems fixing a broken forestay and suffering hand sores, has chalked up an average VMG of just 2.1 knots over the past two months.

Sinclair is clearly getting much more enjoyment from his solitude, but still, his average VMG over the same period is only 2.3 knots. Last week he took time out to track down and photograph Gregor McGuckin’s abandoned yacht Hanley Energy Endurance. “Still afloat and emitting an AIS signal,” he reported to Race HQ.

Sinclair expects to reach the mandatory gate on December 8.

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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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