Countdown for Cole Brauer finish

Published on March 4th, 2024

by Marco Nannini, Global Solo Challenge
Excitement mounts for Cole Brauer (USA) as she will be the second finisher of the 2023-24 Global Solo Challenge in A Coruna, Spain. The young talented American sailor is getting plenty of attention from US media as she’s poised to become the first American female to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation by the three great capes and becoming the 18th women to ever achieve this goal.

With Forbes, People Magazine, the NY Times, NBC News, and many other media outlets warming up the crowds for her arrival, there are dozens of American citizens who took time off to make a trip to A Coruna and see her much awaited arrival. Her current expected time of arrival, depending on simulations, forecasts and performance, ranges from March 6th afternoon to March 7th midday.

The weather forecast suggests she should try to come in as early as possible due to a low pressure system that will be chasing her and, just as I would have expected, she seems to have put her foot on the gas which will mean she’ll be expected to arrive ahead of the developing depression. She will certainly do all she can to avoid arriving in boat breaking conditions which created the scenic setting for the arrival of the winner, Philippe Delamare on February 24.

Unfortunately, the Global Solo Challenge doesn’t just have moments of triumph and glee; it is a test of determination with huge emotional demands on skippers who must remain in control whether things go well or take a turn for the worse.

After suffering rigging problems on February 21 whilst sailing towards Cape Horn, more than 900 miles west of New Zealand, Alessandro Tosetti on the ULDB 65 Aspra has been forced to a long game of chess with the Pacific Ocean weather systems. He needed to reach a safe harbor but the rigging issues prevented him to sail in heavy seas and could only sail on port tack as otherwise he would have risked dismasting.

Tosetti initially had to head north to find calmer waters, but with no option to make landfall anywhere, he had to patiently wait for better and more favorable weather conditions. After several days of heading north-east, he was finally able to set course to the west towards New Zealand hoping to reach Auckland.

A couple of days later, however, it became apparent that he would not be able to reach North Island before the arrival of a deep depression bringing strong and unfavorable winds. In coordination with RCC New Zealand, he altered course to reach the Chatham Islands and its only concrete dock at Waitangi Wharf where he could find shelter and let the storms blow past safely.

Tosetti reached the remote and isolated islands and dock on Tuesday morning (Feb. 27) more than a week after his rigging problem occurred. We wish to express our gratitude for the vigilance, assistance and advice received by RCC New Zealand and for the assistance provided by Joss Thomas, Harbour Master at Waitangi.

After this unplanned stopover, however, he cannot rejoin the Global Solo Challenge as it is getting too late in the season to reach Cape Horn and sail up the South Atlantic before the end of the austral summer. We wish Alessandro all the best in resting, repairing the boat, and making future plans.

Dealing with retirement from the event can be tough after years of planning, preparations, sacrifices, time, and expenses. It is not easy to come to terms with the end of such a long and complex project, and especially if at the time you happen to be docked in a remote island in the middle of the Pacific.

Tosetti is the ninth out of the 16 starters that was been forced to retire from the event, and whilst celebrating winners is important in every sport, I believe that in such an enormous challenge as a solo non-stop circumnavigation, we must recognize the efforts of all that took part, including those that, for reasons often beyond their control, had to withdraw or abandon the event.

Juan Merediz on Sorolla was the first to retire on November 10 with autopilot problems, having sailed 1400 miles of the total 25,000 course. On December 13 and after covering more than 13000 miles, Dafydd Hughes retired with Bendigedig in Hobart.

It was a very valiant effort considering he was sailing the slowest and smallest boat in the event and had spent more than 100 days at sea. The root of his retirement was an autopilot issue and the fact that he really wanted to complete without stops, so although he could have restarted after repairs in Hobart, he was very open in saying he had achieved what he wanted and that he was content with retiring then.

We have all followed with apprehension the dismasting and the epic trip that took Ari Kansakoski from north of the remote Crozet Islands, under jury rig, taking 25 days, to the African continent on January 19 forcing him to retire from the Global Solo Challenge in Durban.

February was the toughest month as 12 of the original 16 starters were still at sea which was somehow too good to be true. On February 8, Edouard de Keyser was forced to retire from the event after losing a rudder 600 miles south of Port Lincoln. It was the third time we had to coordinate vigilance and monitoring with the relevant rescue authorities but luckily they all managed to reach a port without the need a rescue operation.

Then February 12 marked the official retirement of Ronnie Simpson on Shipyard Brewing and it was not an easy day, as it was the first rescue operation of the event. After his dismasting and with an oncoming severe storm, the skipper feared the situation could worsen and become a threat to his life, therefore requesting evacuation which was coordinated by RCC Argentina.

Just a few days later, the level of apprehension and tension reached a completely new level when William MacBrien spent 46 hours in his semi-submerged boat after a likely collision with an unidentified object just days after passing the remotest point of the whole circumanvigation, point Nemo.

Built-in buoyancy and watertight bulkheads allowed him to survive on the boat, without needing to abandon the boat for the liferaft, until the cargo vessel Watatsumi could reach him. Problems with his satellite phones meant we had no contact with the skipper for 24 very long hours prior to rescue where all we could do was hope he was still with us awaiting the ship that had been diverted and taking nearly two days to reach his location. He was rescued on February 16.

The following day, Pavlin Nadvorni on Espresso Martini formalized his retirement from the Global Solo Challenge after a very complicated few days at sea. He had stopped in Bluff Harbor for repairs, and after several delayed attempts to restart, he was sailing between New Zealand and the Chatham Islands when he became aware he was having trouble with a kidney stone.

On medication and excruciating pain, he suffered a knock down and whilst trying to hold on to a handrail he severely injured his left shoulder. He managed to reach Lyttleton in New Zealand unaided, ending up passing a kidney stone the night before making landfall.

Kevin Le Poidevin on Roaring Forty had left Spain nearly a whole month later than his scheduled departure due to a back injury and some technical issues. When he passed Cape Leeuwin, he became concerned with the long term wear that was affecting his autopilot rams attachment points. He did not feel comfortable with the idea of crossing the Pacific under such circumstances and planned a stop in Hobart.

The sum of all delays put him in a position where he could no longer hope to reach Cape Horn by the end of the austral summer, and in coordination with the race organizers, he decided not to push his luck and accepted that the safer course of action was to retire.

All of these retirements leave only seven skippers in the event, with six still at sea and Philippe Delamare having finished and won on February 24. Louis Robein is sailing in last position having stopped in Hobart for repairs, after a total electrical blackout occurred after Cape Leeuwin.

However, he has discovered the leg of one of his hydro-generators cracked, motor and propellor missing, possibly sheared off by a collision or failure of the unit. He has a second unit that has some wiring issues so he is having to keep at bay the memories of his total power loss that forced him to stop in Tasmania.

Fortunately in Hobart, he installed new batteries and changed the wiring so that there is no possibility of discharging the engine battery which he can use to generate power. He plans to work on the remaining generator when conditions allow and either way use the diesel to charge batteries. If he cannot fix the remaining hydrogenerator, he may have to use all his diesel for power to reach Cape Horn. There is no way back now for him or anywhere to stop and he needs to do his best to round the Horn and then assess whether he needs to stop, even just for refuelling.

David Linger had to stop in Ushuaia just after rounding Cape Horn having broken his boom in a knock down just a few days prior to rounding the legendary cape. On February 26, he managed to rejoin the Global Solo Challenge but is now battling with a severe storm just north of the Falklands. He took a very prudent approach sailing just under storm jib and occasionally stopping altogether and heaving-to. However, a wave over the boat bent one tiller that was lashed whilst hove-to, so after the storm he will need to replace the tiller with a spare he carries.

This leaves only five boats that have sailed without stopping and which unsurprisingly fill the top section of the rankings. In a circumnavigation of this kind, the top part of the final rankings will always include those who have sailed well and have had the least technical issues or who have been able to deal with them at sea. Achieving this is already an enormous victory for the project as statistically the odds are stacked against you.

Riccardo Tosetto and Francois Gouin have had one of the toughest transitions from the South Atlantic weather systems towards the SE trade winds that will take them towards the equator. We have really seen them struggling for days trying to make progress as vast expanse of high pressures left them becalmed.

Fortunately, they have now found the precious wind they were looking for and are heading towards the doldrums. We hope this further transition will not be as painful for them as it has been for Andrea Mura on Vento di Sardegna. They are expected to arrive by the end of March.

Andrea Mura has been very fast in the south Atlantic, as when he was sailing in the trade winds, he improved his personal best daily runs sailing as many as 376 nautical miles in a single day. However, his progress was hampered by the doldrums.

At this time of the year, normally the transition from south to north trades is not too difficult or slow, but he had to fight through a very extended area of squalls and calms before finally finding the much sought after NE trades. His route to the finish looks fairly clear and hopefully this is compensation for the time lost in the doldrums.

Whilst Cole Brauer is expected to arrive sometime between 6pm on March 6 and the following morning, Mura should arrive probably between the 14th and 16th of March depending on the developments of the weather.

Race detailsEntry listStart timesTracking

Attrition List:
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
RTD: Ronnie Simpson – Open 50, Shipyard Brewing
RTD: Édouard De Keyser – Solaire 34, SolarWind
RTD: Pavlin Nadvorni – Farr 45, Espresso Martini
RTD: William MacBrien  – Class40, Phoenix
RTD: Kevin Le Poidevin – Open 40, Roaring Forty
RTD: Alessandro Tosetti – ULDB 65, Aspra

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.

Source: GSC

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