Golden Globe: Desperate times require prudent penalties
Published on February 20th, 2019
(February 20, 2019; Day 235) – The third placed Estonian skipper Uku Randmaa has escaped disqualification from the Golden Globe Race after breaching the strict rules forbidding outside assistance, but has been handed a 72-hour penalty for asking and receiving weather routing information during radio contact with a Ham radio operator.
A 16-minute recording of the radio communication was received at Race HQ yesterday, and while the first five minutes cover a legitimate publicly available weather information, it was at -9:15 when Randmaa crossed the line. Here is the conversation:
Randmaa: I have a question…How can I say it…I’m heading 90°. Can I be sure that I can take the wind if I’m sailing east?
Ham operator: If you go directly east you will be staying in the light area. You need to continue North… and then you will catch the westerly winds. I don’t know if I can tell you that, but I think you need to go at least to 28°North and then maybe start going Northeast.”
Randmaa: Ok, but I can’t do that…the wind is coming exactly from 35° and 25°
Ham Operator: If you go too far east…. I will have a look…I can’t give you too much information. It might make you get disqualified and I don’t want to do that. The wind is at a 45° angle…and so is the wind hole.
Randmaa: So I have to move north west again?
Ham operator: Definitely. Not too much east at the moment.
“This is a retro race with skippers restricted to using a sextant, paper charts and wind-up chronometers just as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston used in the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 50 years ago,” explained Race Chairman Don McIntyre. “All digital equipment is banned, including sat phones and GPS. Skippers can only communicate via Single Side Band (SSB) radios and amateur Ham radio net, which the whole world can listen in to if they wish.
“The GGR has attracted hundreds of Ham Radio operators around the world who are listening in and connecting with the skippers, and they play a valuable part in providing a communication network for the Race. But the skippers know that, while they can ask for public weather information, any weather routing that involves being given directions on where to go is strictly banned.”
The Race Committee has accepted Randmaa’s explanation that he did not fully appreciate that the information he received was routing and reduced the penalty from disqualification to a 72-hour penalty.
He served part of this penalty at sea overnight, but following a plea for mitigation on the grounds that he has very little food left for the final 2,000 miles to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, the Race Committee has agreed that Randmaa can continue racing and the remainder of his penalty time – 65hrs 40 minutes – will be added to his finish time.
Uku caught another Marlin last weekend, which will have given him three days nourishment, but his basic stocks onboard now consist of:
• 60 spoons of rice
• 20 packets of dried soup
• 23 freeze dried meals
• 15 tea bags
• Four spoons of sugar
The latest ETA for Uku’s finish is now March 13, so this has to last him 21 days.
Istvan Kopar, trailing 422 miles behind Randmaa in terms of distance to finish today, reported that his makeshift tiller on his Tradewind 35 Puffin broke on February 15 and he is now reduced to using his emergency rudder. His health issues also continue with an aching tooth abscess, fungal infection under his fingernails, and mould growth in the dank conditions below decks all sucking on his morale.
In consideration of these steering issues, the Race Committee has agreed that the 24-hour penalty he sustained stopping in the Cape Verde Islands to fix his self-steering will now be added to his finish time, rather than served in a penalty box at sea.
Fifth placed Tapio Lehtinen is making good speed up the South American coast despite the barnacle growth on his Gaia 36 Asteria. He reported that the barnacles are now growing in large clumps up to 30cm thick around the keel area, which must be sapping speed considerably, but not enough it seems for the Finn to overcome his fear of sharks and dive overboard to scrape the hull clean. Tapio expects to finish by May 14.
Asteria continues to run neck-and-neck with Suhaili in her virtual race against Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s solo circumnavigation. Lehtinen’s yacht has a 74-mile lead today, but that is set against Suhaili’s last known relative position four days ago, so is really running 3-400 miles astern.
Relative positions of Lehtinen and Knox-Johnston in their virtual race around the Globe.
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.