Tough sledding for Golden Globe Race

Published on September 8th, 2022

(September 8, 2022; Day 5) – The September 4 start date for the Golden Globe Race has not made it easy departing Les Sables d’Olonne, France. It is a transitional season in the Bay of Biscay and the route towards Lanzarote is uncertain as the fleet has been hit with several low pressure systems moving towards Europe.

This means strong headwinds and heavy seas for the entrants. The fleet split in two groups early with a west option to catch today’s rotation and a direct route to the Cape Finisterre and a South option along the coast of Asturias and Galicia in sheltered waters and calmer winds. Local Frenchman Arnaud Gaist, was unexpectedly and unusually headed way north raising some concerns, but finally tacked this afternoon and sent a message: “All is well on Hermes Phoning.”

The results will unfold tomorrow as Tapio Lehtinen, the only sailors who persisted in the west option pushing through the tough conditions, will converge with Pat Lawless, Simon Curwen, and Abhilash Tomy who are leading the easier south option towards Cape Finisterre before starting their descent along the coast of Portugal. Another week of headwinds is predicted as entrants express real frustrations to GGR Control on all communications.

Race favorite Damien Guillou (FRA) is returning to Les Sables d’Olonne to fix his windvane mount which came loose in the heavy weather. The GGR Notice of Race allows any entrant to restart up to one week from the official start date, so he will have until September 11 at 14:00 UTC to start again.

This will no doubt stir memories for the people of Les Sables d’Olonne who saw Michel Desjoyeaux come back in 2008 after 200 nautical miles for repair, and ultimately win his second Vendée Globe. Time will tell, and the boats of both events have little in common but the headwind facing the fleet next week may well provide a good opportunity for a come-back!

The strong headwinds and seas are taking a toll. Leaks, electric shorts, radio problems, and weatherfax issues have been mentioned several times. Guy deBoer (USA) was seasick and gashed his leg but is now trucking along. Ertan Beskardes (GBR) was hit by a wave on deck, fell into his cockpit and was knocked unconscious, hurting his arm. Contact was made with tele-medicine doctors and today he sent an encouraging message “all good on board, just slow progress, weather good, food super.”

Edward Walentynowicz (CAN), who is otherwise having a good race mid-fleet, informed GGR control today he was pondering retirement and will call his wife and Team Manager Magda to discuss his options prior to making a final decision. If he remains in the GGR, he will receive an 18 hour time penalty for the banned phone call.

As the lead boats are heading out of the Bay of Biscay, the fleet is receiving regular forecasts on HF, radio, and weather fax to work on their strategy, including choices negotiating the Cape Finisterre Traffic separation Scheme. They are heading into more headwinds along the coast of Portugal over the next few days as a low-pressure system is forming over the Azores.

The race thus far has been tough, and the next few days will certainly be interesting as sailors exit Biscay into the Atlantic towards Lanzarote. All are frustrated and longing for following winds.

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2022 GGR competitors:
1. Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
2. Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII (long keel version)
3. Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36
4. Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36
5. Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale Force 34
6. Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / Rustler 36
7. Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36
8. Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35
9. Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
10. Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32
11. Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
12. Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34
13. Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Biscay 36
14. Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36
15. Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36
16. Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead sloop

About the 2022 Golden Globe Race
On September 4, 2022, the third edition of the Golden Globe Race started from Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Sixteen skippers will face eight months of isolation sailing 30,000 miles across five oceans solo non-stop and unassisted.

In 1968, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. He had entered the original Golden Globe. Nine men started that first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. He was 29 year old Sir Robin Knox Johnston. History was made. Navigating only with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world.

In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly gained traction with adventurers, captivated by the spirit and opportunity. Eighteen started with five finishers.

To embrace the original race, competitors must sail in production boats between 32 and 36 feet overall and designed prior to 1988 that have a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. Additionally, sailors have limited communication equipment and can use only sextants, paper charts, wind up clocks, and cassette tapes for music.

Source: GGR

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