Making the turn in the Golden Globe

Published on October 20th, 2022

(October 20, 2022; Day 47) – Cards are reshuffled and more breakage for the fleet in the Golden Globe Race as the South Atlantic starts testing boats and sailors with the next film drop in Cape Town.

The Southern Hemisphere has not been overly welcoming, and the fleet has been consistently in confused seas over 4 metres and winds averaging 15 to 20 knots with occasional gusts to 40. Boats and sailors have taken a toll with several sailors injured, and a few boats needing repairs.

Damien Guillou (FRA) on his PRB entry called Golden Globe Race control today to advise that the stainless steel rudder shaft of his wind vane broke at the top of the rudder. The rudder was secured by a safety line so was not lost, and Damien continues sailing upwind for now without self steering.

He has a complete spare rudder shaft which will need replacing. He must remove the main transmission gear of the unit, pulling the broken shaft out and then sliding a new shaft in before replacing the main gear. Not an easy job as he then will have to go over the side to replace the rudder.

He says he can do it, but the conditions are not favorable at the moment. This type of damage is very unusual for a Hydrovane unit and the local agent has suggested it may be the first such break in the history of the units.

All but two of the GGR entrants use the same gear, and it is a mystery break as this shaft is very strong. It is the second windvane problem Damien has experienced as he had to return after the start to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair and strengthen the mounting system, setting off six days behind the fleet.

Guillou was disappointed and wondered if the break was caused by driving too hard. It may be many days before conditions improve to allow a repair. He knows he is approaching the high-pressure system and will aim for flat waters for repairs, or alternatively to Tristan da Cunha.

He also knows where Kirsten Neuschäfer and Abhilash Tomy are, how he is doing compared to them, and very eager to get back in the game. In real terms he has only gained 70 miles on the leader (currently 480 miles ahead) since Cape Finistere weeks ago, but passed many of the slower boats. In the next few days, however, his fortunes may change with the wind shifting more north allowing him to turn east for Cape Town and saving him a few days sailing south which the current leaders have had to do.

Simon Curwen (GBR) on CLARA, the first to exit the doldrums, broke his genoa halyard and decided to shelter from the wind and seas off the coast on Trindade island. There he went up the mast to repair it to no avail, also hurting himself in the process. He finally decided to continue with his removable forestay to Cape Town and look for shelter there and repair before heading into the Indian ocean.

“I got a bit bashed, there’s not enough shelter behind this small island,” explained Curwen. “I was hove-to and got up the mast for a couple of hours. On the way down my bosun’s chair started falling apart. I had to cut myself free and free-climb my way down the rest of it.”

Abhilash Tomy (IND) on BAYANAT, who kept in touch with the lead all week, had a gas leak which is now repaired, and Pat Lawless (IRL) on GREEN REBEL had a solent halyard snap last night in 40 knots squalls. He switched sails and will repair his halyard later when the conditions ease.

The South Atlantic High is playing tricks on the lead of the fleet. While Curwen and Tomy had to go all the way down below 30° south to find easing winds, enabling a more easterly route towards Cape Town, it hasn’t been the case for those following.

Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) on ASTERIA, 250 miles north of Simon, took a more easterly route right after Trindade, getting closer to Cape Town, stealing first spot from Curwen and leading the fleet towards South Africa. Guillou (FRA) did the same trick another 250 miles back and took 4th position stealing both the spots of Neuchäfer (RSA) and Tomy (IND).

“The tracker is calculating the distance to the next waypoint to the east in South Africa, but for now you need to go south for a commanding position,” said race organizer Don McIntyre. “The leaderboard does not take the meteorological reality into account. In the next four days the reality will start to show and the leaderboard will change.”

Curwen and Lehtinen, who are further south and east, are the first ones to get easing winds and alter course, making headway towards Cape town. Meanwhile the west position of Tomy and Neuschäfer penalizes them in the distance to the next mark in Cape Town, and with Guillou who kept a straight route as easterly as possible right after rounding Trindade.

With the high-pressure system moving northeast quickly, it means that the latest to round Trindade will be able to cut corners and take a shorter route towards Cape Town. This is especially true for Guillou, Ertan Beskardes (GBR), Michael Guggenberger (AUT) and Jeremy Bagshaw (RSA). After them, the situation will be different and harder to predict.

None of the entrants have been able to print a decent Weatherfax chart so are relying on their on-board tools and observations, looking how the barometric pressure rises and the wind direction and strength is easing to position the South Atlantic High.

“I’ve given up on Rio after trying so many times, but I am starting to get weather forecasts from South Africa, so I may be able to get some weatherfax from them at some point,” said Neuschäfer.

With their limited access to information, the sailors know where they are and can position themselves compared to the others that they talk to on the SSB radio.

Most of the sailors will be through the Trindade mark in the next 7 days, but the Southern Atlantic weather system still has a few surprises in stock for the fleet over the next few days. Expect more changes in front of the fleet.

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2022 GGR competitors:
Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII (long keel version)
Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36
Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale Force 34
Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / Rustler 36
Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35
Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32
Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Biscay 36
Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36
Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36
Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead sloop

Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36 (dropped out Sept. 8)
Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36 (ran aground Sept. 16)
Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34 (retired in Lanzarote Sept. 22)

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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