Climbing Atlantic in Golden Globe Race

Published on March 8th, 2023

(March 8, 2023)- Racing yachts around the world use computerized weather routing programs to optimize courses against satellite weather data. It’s the norm, yet both are banned in the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race. However, the current leader and only woman in the race, South African Kirsten Neuschäfer, found the perfect solution for her best route to the Les Sables d’Olonne finish after rounding Cape Horn.

She consulted Ocean Passages of the World with its 200-year-old weather routing charts, historical weather and suggested routes from the original clipper sailing ships. Following that advice is now paying strong dividends sailing through the tricky horse latitudes, directing her east and is now in a commanding windward position as she reaches the South East Trades ahead of the rest of the fleet.

Seven hundred miles inshore to the west, Abhilash Tomy (IND), currently second and 350 miles behind Neuschäfer, is now locked on starboard tack in northerly head winds. With the coast just 400 miles ahead, he must soon start tacking north.

Neuschäfer, on the other hand, is 1,000 miles offshore with easterly winds on the beam and could make one long 1,500 mile starboard tack through the trades, all the way to the northern tip of Brazil. That may give her another 300-400 mile advantage over Tomy. Combined with her current 350 mile lead, that’s potentially a big break going into the doldrums and crossing the equator.

Her advantage might be critical as Tomy’s Rustler 36 ‘BAYANAT’ is lighter and faster to windward than her Cape George 36, and the north Atlantic is a real climb upwind back to France. Neuschäfer is 4,600 miles from the finish and just crossed her outbound track of four months ago, “tying the knot” for the first time.

She reports all is well onboard with no major issues as she works hard to press ahead. To have a chance of being the first ever woman to win a solo race around the world, she must be well ahead coming out of the doldrums.

“I haven’t had much weather info lately,” she reports. “I had one relayed from Peter by Puffin a couple days ago but hadn’t had any since then. I picked up some south-easterlies yesterday and it’s gone further south-east now. I’m hoping that gives me a push after many slow days. I don’t know how far I’m behind now but hope it will hold!”

Tomy has resumed his northern route after more repairs onboard Bayanat which included climbing up the mast to replace a broken running backstay with his guardrail wire, getting badly bruised in the process. His mainsail ripped from luff to leach below the first reef point which required a huge effort to hand stitch together. More importantly, he caught another 30 litres of rain water which is always welcome on Bayanat.

“I have been working quite a lot, non-stop for around 24 hours,” said Tomy. “I replaced the broken running backstay with a guardrail, and replaced the guardrail with the emergency HF antenna! I spent 3 to 4 hours up the mast and started to work on the mainsail. It was long and tedious but the sail is back on and looking good, better than the boat which is a complete mess.”

Meanwhile, as the two leaders fight it out, Simon Curwen (GBR), sailing his Biscay 36 ‘CLARA’ as a Chichester Class entrant not in the rankings, is slowly closing in on both. He has been doing what he does best: sailing the shortest course at the best possible speed, and it shows.

Since Cape Horn, CLARA reduced the gap from 800 miles to 550 with Bayanat. He previously held the lead for 150 days before diverting 1,000 miles and taking a stop for repairs. He is cruising home to finish his one stop circumnavigation, but admits he does not know how to go slow, and enjoys having Bayanat in his sights!

“Obviously I’m not racing, but I don’t sail much slower than the boat can, even when I’m in cruising class,” said Curwen. “I’m still doing a lot of sail changes to match the wind speed and direction, I just took the Genoa down. Now I want to go back to Les Sables and finish this!”

Meanwhile, Michael Guggenberger (AUT) found it difficult to find the right pace and route in the changing conditions after Cape Horn. From no wind to too much wind and many sail changes with a succession of cold fronts and calms, he decided to find a middle route in the sail combination of his ketch-rigged Nuri and limit changes. He lost 300 miles on Curwen since Cape Horn but managed to gain around 100 miles on Tomy and 200 on the leader. With the doldrums coming up, the Biscay 36s could further reduce the gap.

Event detailsEntry listTrackerFacebook

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

2022 GGR Class:
1. Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36 – “MINNEHAHA”
2. Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36 – “BAYANAT”
3. Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Biscay 36 – “NURI”
4. Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35 – “PUFFIN”

2022 GGR Chichester Class:*
1. Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36 – “CLARA” (will stop to repair windvane)
2. Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32 – “OLLEANNA” (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)
Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / Rustler 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 16)
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)
Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35 (stopped in Cape Town to clean/paint hull; retired in Hobart after losing his liferaft, Feb. 10)

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

comment banner


Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.