Golden Globe: No rest for the wicked
Published on January 2nd, 2019
(January 2, 2019; Day 186) – Istvan Kopar rounded Cape Horn at 19:00 UTC yesterday, making the 65-year old American/Hungarian the fourth competitor in the Golden Globe Race to have made the turn and enter into the Atlantic Ocean. But Kopar’s achievement has not been without problems.
His Tradewind 35 Puffin has suffered continued self-steering issues from Day 1 that led him to consider throwing in the towel at the Cape Verde islands. His SSB radio has been on the blink almost as long, preventing him from picking up weather forecasts or communicating with other skippers; his freshwater tanks became contaminated, and Kopar had to fashion new cogs to replace those that were breaking up in the steering pedestal gearbox.
The 73-year old Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den continues to lead his five competitors, crossing the Equator on December 26 and today is now within 2,500 miles of the finish, confidently predicting a return to Les Sables d’Olonne on January 26.
Whether it will be Jean-Luc and his Rustler 36 Matmut that takes the winning gun remains very much in the balance. His lead over 2nd placed Dutchman Mark Slats has ebbed and flowed over the past 12 days, jumping from 700 miles on December 21 to 1,100 miles after Christmas to stand at around 900 miles today.
The tracker on Slat’s Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick stopped transmitting early yesterday, but dead reckoning suggests that he will cross the Equator later today. While Van Den Heede continues to nurse Matmut’s rig for the past two months, it has not been plain-sailing for Slats either.
“Sailing close hauled for the past 14 days has had a huge impact on the boat,” reports Slat. “The thick-walled steel bracket holding the wind vane to the transom was nearly torn off by the strain. My ‘Flintstone’ repair using wood took from 16:00 to 03:00 to complete and is now as strong as ever, and luckily, I didn’t have to stop sailing.”
He also reported that the rubber collar sealing the mast where it goes through the deck had split, but a tube of Sikkaflex has stopped the leaks.
On a personal front, Slats says that the wet conditions on deck has led to a reoccurrence of the salt-water boils that he first experienced on his buttocks during his record-setting solo row across the Atlantic at the end of 2017. “These spots re-appear immediately whenever my butt gets wet. It’s very painful and I have had to resort to wearing my full Southern Ocean suit on deck in 40° conditions!”
Slats can now look forward to a week of easy sailing in the SE Trades and at the last full report, was making 6.5 knots against Matmut’s 5.8 but knows that he must now average 30 miles a day more to have any hope of beating Van Den Heede to the finish line.
One reason for Matmut’s lack of speed has been the Sargasso weed that grows in abundance north of the Equator. It catches on the keel, as well as the water generator prop-shaft and Walker towed log if Van Den Heede tried to use them. His navigation has also been hampered by damage to his two sextants. One he dropped, and the other has suffered from salt water corrosion. During a recent call to Race HQ, Jean-Luc joked: “I know where Les Sables d’Olonne is…I just don’t know exactly where I am!”
Today’s main concern is focused on 3rd placed Estonian Uku Randmaa whose Rustler 36 One and All has failed to out-run a storm now heading straight for him 1,000 miles east of the Argentine coast.
“Unfortunately he cannot outrun it as preceding northerly winds may halt his progress and then push him into the most dangerous sector where he may be trapped for about 18 to 24 hours, notes Race Chairman Don McIntyr. “Winds are expected to gust 60 to 75 knots with dangerous 6 to 8 meter seas. The system is about 800 miles across moving relatively fast. It’s a large system!”
Race HQ will be monitoring Uku’s position carefully and remain on-hand 24/7 providing him with regular weather reports and advice.
Meanwhile, Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen continues to lag in 5th place mid-way across the South Pacific Ocean, plagued by barnacle growth on his Gaia 36 Asteria. Efforts before Christmas to hang over the side suspended from a spinnaker halyard and use a pole with scraper attached to clear the shellfish failed to work, and continued shark sightings have precluded any thought of diving overboard to scrape the hull clean.
Today, Asteria was making just 3.3 knots, having lost a further 760 miles on the race leader over the past 12 days. But Tapio remains buoyant, enjoying the solitude and the birds attracted by his presence. He has plenty of food, water, books and music and hopes to round Cape Horn at the end of January. The hope also is that he may just finish the race before the prize giving on April 22.
His race now is against the performance set by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and his yacht Suhaili 50 years ago. Today, Asteria is 690 miles ahead, but judging by current performance that is likely to shrink further in this virtual race around the globe.
Russian skipper Igor Zaretskiy, now back in Moscow after leaving his Endurance 35 Esmeralda in Albany, West Australia before Christmas, will undergo a health check tomorrow that will determine whether he will be able to restart the race in the Chichester Class before the January 14 deadline.
If he gets the all-clear from doctors then he intends to return to Australia immediately, but if an operation is advised, recovery will mean that he can’t restart before the start of the Southern Ocean Spring season in November.
Irish GGR skipper Gregor McGuckin, who abandoned his yacht on September 24 due to a dismasting in the Indian Ocean, has accepted an offer from American Cody Cordwainer, a tugboat captain operating out of Brooklyn Navy Yard, to salvage his yacht currently 1,100 miles west of Fremantle West Australia.
In a plea for support, Cody has posted on Facebook:
“We’ll make no profit on this enterprise. The distillery has offered €1000 in return for its whiskey, but that will not even begin to cover all the expenses. We’ll need help to make this happen. Funding of course is great but we also need contacts in Perth Australia. We’ll need a vessel to rescue his boat, and a place to put it once rescued. Think you could help? PM/DM us for more details and head over to Instagram and give @whiskeyrescue a follow!
NOTE: The Golden Globe Race issued a time penalty against Jean-Luc Van Den Heede as a result of his actions when he sustained mast damage during a storm 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn. Details.
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.