Golden Globe leaders in the tradewinds

Published on April 7th, 2023

(April 7, 2023) – In the northern hemisphere, it’s been tense for Golden Globe Race leader Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA) who has been in less wind than her runner-up Abhilash Tomy (IND) for longer. However, every time it looks like she’s losing the lead, she finds the resources to grab some miles back, or clutch to the extra bit of wind to hold the lead.

The past week has been hard on Neuschäfer who has generally been in lighter weather for several weeks running, bleeding miles from her lead to Tomy, falling from 300 miles last week to 50 today. Worse, the eastern option she chose, while closer to the finish has brought an in-and-out of the doldrums scenario with more frustrating light winds and psychological trauma. But yesterday she was in fresh winds, now on a higher route at speed towards the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

The contrast with Tomy is notable. Choosing a closer route to Brazil, he had very narrow doldrums and found strong, consistent tradewinds earlier, allowing him to sail higher and faster for weeks. After several months of fixing/rebuilding equipment failures and rationing water to less than one litre a day, he is posting good speed with time to relax and hydrate.

Unexpectedly, Tomy called the Race Office yesterday to inform that one of his two EPIRBs activated inadvertently for a couple minutes, with the antenna not deployed. Two minutes later, the CROSS Antilles Guyane / MRCC Fort-de-France called Race Director Sébastien Delasnerie as he was drafting the incident report to advise them of the false alarm.

After being informed of the situation on his Rustler 36 Bayanat, the CROSS then called Tomy directly on his satellite phone for a SitRep and closed the case. It all went smoothly and the response from the Cross Antille Guyane to the EPIRB activation was instantaneous.

While sounding despondent on her last weekly call, Neuschäfer’s has not lost her fight. A few days ago, after 7 months and 27,000 miles, she played a wind shift at night for 8 hours, pointing straight to Les Sables d’Olonne and gaining precious miles over Tomy.

But yesterday, after losing 40 miles daily to him, she finally got fresh, steady trade winds bringing her Cape George 36 Minnehaha back up to speed, and pointing higher, stretching her lead to 100 nm. As the saying goes, it’s not over till the fat lady sings!

It is unclear, however, how the arrival will pan out, but we know this: she received 35 hours time allowance and 30 litres of fuel for Tapio Lehtinen’s rescue. Tomy got a 12 hours time allowance for his early involvement in the same rescue, so that’s 23 hours to Kirsten.

Then there are fuel penalties to consider, with a 2-hour penalty for every litre of fuel used above 25 litres, and Tomy had a fuel leak onboard. What we don’t know is how much fuel he lost, and that may change everything.

While the Queen and the King of the GGR fleet battle it out, the Jester Simon Curwen (GBR) on his Biscay 36 Clara in the Chichester Class is playing his own cards in between them, pointing higher than any. He is in excellent spirits, looking after Clara’s interior, building curtains to protect himself from the sun! He’s been the fastest, now leading the fleet, but not the race.

On top of elusive winds, the Sargasso weed is impacting the fleet. While Robin Knox-Johnston found them at 24° north latitude in 1968, the GGR leaders found them on the equator and the raft of weed was reported on CNN as now being bigger than the size of America!

The Sargassum were first mentioned by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage and created quite a panic as seaweed is normally a sign of close ground. He eventually recognized them for their own oceanic danger: stopping boats from moving in light winds! Scientists suggest the massive sudden increase is due to global warming.

The ETA for the leader is April 30.

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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:
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”

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)
3. Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35 – “PUFFIN” (use of safety electronics for stopover logistics)
* 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

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