Northbound in Global Solo Challenge
Published on February 5th, 2024
by Marco Nannini, Global Solo Challenge
(February 5, 2024) – Cape Horn has been the primary focus of attention for quite a few days now in the Global Solo Challenge, with Ronnie Simpson (USA) on his Open 50 as the latest to make the turn on February 2. Simpson joins Philippe Delamare (FRA) and Cole Brauer (USA) as the top three teams to be heading north in the Atlantic.
It was in the thick of the night, sailing heavy seas and winds gusting to nearly 60 knots, when Simpson successfully rounded Cape Horn with no mainsail and only storm jib. The previous day a window of opportunity had opened up and he had to choose whether to wait for the weather system to clear the area or press on in heavy but manageable seas.
Ultimately, he decided that the conditions were safe enough for the rounding without any evasive action in relation to the cold front that was chasing him. He wisely opted to stay in deep waters off the continental shelf, too far to see the Cabo de Hornos lighthouse or any sign of having approached the South American continent.
On rounding, however, he was already focusing on the next deep and windy low pressure. The development of this system, vast in size and with winds up to the 50-70 knots range, was of great concern to all those still in the Pacific. The associated winds were also due to spill over into the Atlantic and bring a heavy northerly blow to the American skipper on his route to the north.
Simpson decided to avoid the worst which was going to sweep over the Falklands yesterday with prohibitive conditions. He sailed through the Strait of Le Maire in light conditions after rounding and kept hugging the Argentinian coast sailing towards the Beagle Channel.
When the northerly winds hit, he experienced a manageable sea state and winds gusting up to 40 knots, nothing compared to the nasty weather further east. By yesterday, the wind backed to the west and put Ronnie in a position to resume a direct course to the north east.
The US veteran, sailing under the sponsorship of Shipyard Brewing, is a proud representative of US Patriot Sailing. He has displayed great skill and seamanship during his rounding and in nursing his 1994 Open 50 through difficult seas.
After a forced pitstop in Hobart for repairs, he is acutely aware of the limitations that his vintage boat imposes to ensure a successful completion of the circumnavigation. In a few days, the weather should progressively improve and give him respite so that he can finally celebrate getting safely through south Pacific and Atlantic heavy weather towards warmer and calmer seas.
DNS: Peter Bourke – Class40, Imagine
DNS: Ivan Dimov – Endur37, Blue Ibis
DNS: Curt Morlock – IMOCA, 6 Lazy K
DNS: Volkan Kaan Yemlihaoğlu – Open 70, Black Betty
RTD: Juan Merediz – Class40, Sorolla
RTD: Dafydd Hughes – S&S 34, Bendigedig
RTD: Ari Känsäkoski – Class40, ZEROchallenge
The inaugural Global Solo Challenge 2023-24 seeks to be a budget-friendly solo, non-stop race around the world. Using a pursuit format for the 2023-24 race, 20 entrants from 34 to 70 feet have start times between August 26 to January 6 from A Coruña, Spain, with the first boat to return deemed the winner.