How the Golden Globe Race was won
Published on February 1st, 2019
When Jean-Luc Van Den Heede wrote his name into the record books by not only winning the 2018-19 Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race, but becoming the oldest in history to complete such a race, he was relieved to be doing so under full power.
Finally, after his finish on January 29, the mast damage was revealed that Van Den Heede had incurred in the South Pacific and managed to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
It was on Day 128 (November 5, 2018) when it was learned that his Rustler 36 Matmut had been knocked down badly to about 150° approximately 1900 nm to the west of Cape Horn. While the mast stayed upright, the incident damaged the connecting bolt attachment to the mast that holds all four lower shrouds.
The bolt has slipped 5 cm down in the mast section and slackened the rigging, which required the 73-year old French veteran of six solo circumnavigations to climb and enact a repair that would allow for his finish on Day 213.
As the photos below show, a small piece of spectra line was used in the mast repair, and given the race requirements that limits modern equipment, Van Den Heede had to negotiate the rules to utilize this high tech fibre.
There are two standard approvals given for high tech lines on Golden Globe Race boats:
1. Any commercial wind vane supplied as standard with high tech lines are approved.
2. A small amount of high tech webbing and line may be allowed on application. Van Den Heede was approved to use his high tech line in the leach line of sails.
However, on occasion other dispensations were allowed, and it was this incident of misfortune before the race from which Van Den Heede had benefited.
A few days before sailing to Falmouth for the Parade of Sail in June 2018, he had his towing log line cut by a foiling windsurfer. When he could not buy original log towing lines, and when he checked with GGR about making new custom lines, GGR permitted him to make new lines of any material.
Van Den Heede made new line of spectra and it was one of these log towing lines that he used to assist with the repair.
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.