Attrition again for Golden Globe Race

Published on January 20th, 2023

(January 20, 2023) – With Elliott Smith (USA) out of the race and Jeremy Bagshaw (RSA) beaten by barnacles, there are now just five contenders left for the GGR trophy in Les Sables d’Olonne and two sailors in Chichester Class with Guy Waites (GBR) about to be dropped.

Smith arrived to a warm Aussie welcome in the Fremantle Sailing Club marina after crossing Cape Leeuwin earlier this week. The 27 y/o American sailor has sailed 14.000 miles non-stop, solo, unassisted and crossed two of the great Capes out of three.

His challenges have been more than most, sailing the last 5000 miles with significant damage to his bowsprit and the last few weeks with no forestay at all after repairs failed. He has shown true grit and determination with real seamanship and skill to make landfall.

It’s been quite an adventure and while he is disappointed at not tying the knot into to Les Sables d’Olonne, he plans to repair the “Second Wind” and then offer her up for sale to another adventurer.

The barnacles invaded Bagshaw for a second time, forcing him to stop in Hobart to scrap the bottom Olleanna at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania; all were shocked at the seven week farm of life. He now continues in Chichester class, a fitting tribute to Sir Francis Chichester who also stopped in Australia half around the world.

As the smallest boat in the fleet, Bagshaw was always punching above his weight in terms of speed but was also plagued by barnacles in the North Atlantic, forcing Jeremy to scrape the hull clean in False Bay.

The South African sailor who was also facing severe water shortages and dwindling food supplies, finally forced to lift the boat for a proper hull cleaning.

“There are a lot more barnacles than I originally thought, but stopping was the only option anyway,” said Bagshaw. “I don’t have enough food to go around the world at three knots, I would have had to call in somewhere, so I might as well do it here and enjoy the rest of the trip, rather than sweat it in the Pacific and somehow end up somewhere in South America, so this makes perfect sense.”

Attrition is the name of the game for Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR), the unlikely hero of the Southern Indian Ocean. As the 10th boat in Cape Town, he now is in 5th place from 16 starters in Hobart after a quick crossing and many retirements. He gained up to a thousand miles on Bagshaw before being stranded on a road to nowhere at the South East Cape of Tasmania on Tuesday (Jan. 17) .

Approaching Tasmania, he once again contemplated the option of not continuing and reflecting on why he was there and what he had achieved. It is still a long way to go and he has invested so much emotion, effort and spirit to get this far but conceded the isolation and mind game of it all is the hardest. It is clear his superb preparation of his boat that drives him on just as much as his family and friends. He is now on his way home.

Frustration was more of an issue for the leader Curwen (GBR). He lacked weather information heading into Tasmania, subsequently parked in a high pressure and lost his patiently built 700 mile lead. However, he was better after his narrow escape from the Tasman Sea and in the past days has benefited from 7-8 mtr rolling seas and strong roaring 40s winds with regular passing fronts driving him toward Cape Horn.

The biggest disappointment is for Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA), who briefly led the Golden Globe Race in Hobart with her 35-hour compensation for the rescue of Tapio Lehtinen. She is now trailing more than a thousand miles behind Curwen with little hope of taking the lead again for now.

Worse, she is not matching the pace of Abhilash Tomy (IND) who is now around 200 miles ahead of her. He seems constantly faster in certain wind wave combinations and talks of a secret sail combination to give an edge. One thing is certain, he is back racing and knows Curwen has a long way to go.

To make frustration worse, Neuschäfer is the only one of the three sailors to get clear charts on her weatherfax. She knows there is wind 4 degrees (240 miles) south of her position, and she knows what wind Curwen gets, accurately estimating his 1000+ mile gap on her.

“The Pacific hasn’t been exciting at all so far,” she said. “It’s been frustrating really, the worst is knowing there’s wind not far South from you, and not being allowed to go there.”

Race director Don McIntyre explains the safety measures in place for this leg:

“The GGR Exclusion Zones are part of an International Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers agreement to keep sailors closer to any rescue assets/ships if needed. They are important for risk mitigation and not exposing rescuers to unnecessary risk.

“The GGR Exclusion zone leading to Cape Horn, is 1 degree further south than even the Vendee Globe allow. To complicate matters this season, the pressure systems are generally much further south than usual, but that is the challenge of sailing the Southern Ocean and the GGR!

Neuschäfer’s boat has been suspiciously off-pace for the last few weeks with a possibility of barnacle growth. She had a few in Hobart and had planned to dive on her way to the Pacific, but even in the calms, the residual swell and sighting of sharks did not provide optimal conditions for diving.

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Credit for helping with rescue of Tapio Lehtinen:
• Kirsten Neuschäfer: 35 hours + 30 litres of fuel
• Abhilash Tomy: 12hrs

2022 GGR Class:
Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / Rustler 36
Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Biscay 36
Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36

2022 GGR Chichester Class:*
Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35 (stopped in Cape Town to clean/paint hull)
Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32 (stopped in Hobart to clean hull)

* Competitors shift to this class by making one stop.

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)
Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 9)
Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 14)
Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead sloop (sank off Cape Town, Nov. 18)
Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII-long keel version (retired near Saint Helena, Dec. 9)
Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale Force 34 (retired, Dec. 20)

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 before finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne. Along the route there are several marks of the course and media requirements.

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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