Britain’s Simon Curwen leading the Golden Globe Race fleet is approaching the gates of Hobart. He is the first of the 6 surviving boats still in the race.
After more than a hundred days at sea, only six of the sixteen competitors who set out from Les Sables d’Olonne in France have a chance of crossing the Hobart gate, which closes on January 31st. the Atlantic took a heavy toll on the GGR fleet, which faced tough conditions on day three. Three sailboats gave up before crossing the equator, three others on arrival in Cape Town, and two more east of the Cape of Good Hope. Guy Waites (GBR) is now in Chichester Class and Elliott Smith (USA) probably cannot continue beyond Australia. The GGR is once again wreaking havoc among top sailors and sailors.
– Publicity –
Elliott Smith, greatness of soul incarnate.
What a difference an ocean can make… Elliott Smith (USA) had a hard time at the start of his route south, in the face of intense frustration in the calm areas. He nevertheless played the game, and after incessant repairs, ended up finding the resources and the greatness of soul necessary to continue in the face of the many obstacles put in his way.
In fact, he even bettered the best 24-hour distance on Second Wind on December 15 with 174 nautical miles, under reduced sail, before his bowsprit, repaired at anchor in Cape Town, bent again. On Monday morning, Elliott began his new repairs with a plan: to drop the forestay while the mast is held together with two spinnaker halyards and the staysail forestay in order to fit a shorter shroud as a forestay, shorten the profile of the furler, haul it up with spacers and a chain on the bow, and do without the bowsprit.
Alas, even though the wind had dropped by then, Elliott still had 3 meters of swell making repairs at the top of the mast extremely difficult. He nevertheless climbed it no less than 10 times, but the movements at the top of the mast, 13 meters above sea level, were too great. She was tossed about from all sides and lost her tools and spare parts overboard, including her spare forestay, essential for the repair. It was the end of his race and his dream. He will be in Chichester class when he arrives in Australia in about a month. He will then probably not have time to pass the Hobart gate and will therefore be out of the race. “I think I’m going to have to stop there,” he said.
We advised Elliott to slowly make his way north with a few more degrees to get better winds and then sail east towards Fremantle or Albany which are the best options. It is unlikely that Elliott will be able to repair his rig and reach Hobart’s gate in time. He must navigate carefully and take care of his mast at all costs. A wounded mast is always better than a jury rig, so it can only use the two-reef mainsail and a staysail. We’ll provide Elliott with the weather information he needs to help him navigate his way safely.
The fleet rushes to Hobart where Don and Jane prepare to welcome them into Storm bay. The gate closes on January 31 at 12:00 p.m. local time to ensure the best possible weather all the way to Cape Horn, 4,500 nautical miles away. After this date, any participant in Suhaili class who arrives late will have to stop and complete the second part of their trip in December 2023 in Voyager class, a simple return to Les Sables d’Olonne with free use of GPS, satellite phone and weather routing. Entrants from the Chichester class who arrive late at the Hobart gate will be disqualified. At the back of the fleet, Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR), who had considered not going through the gates of Cape Town to save time and continue in Chichester class (penalty for not stopping), is now making good progress in the South, breaking its distance records several times last week, to finally reach 1007 miles over 7 days on December 17!
Ian carefully navigates with Puffin between the 40th and 42nd parallel, gaining time and continually improving his estimated time of arrival (ETA). Based on his average speeds, he has a cushion of 10 days ahead of the Hobart Gate on January 31, but there is still a long way to go and a lot can happen throughout the 3,300 miles remaining. Don’t delay and Ian could well find an anticyclone on his way!
Along the exclusion zone, Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) on Olleanna had rough weather all week. To the south of the exclusion zone, a succession of low pressure systems with strong winds shifting from north to west created heavy, cross seas throughout the area. He sails cautiously to preserve his sailboat until the end of the zone, before being able to dive further south. He is expected in Hobart around January 10.
The meticulous preparation of Michael Guggenberger (AUT) pays off. He emerged unscathed from his journey along the no-go zone despite difficult conditions and increased his lead over Jeremy, proving that his ketch-rigged Biscay 36 Nuri can match the speeds of the sloop-rigged Clara, from Simon Curwen! Capt. Gugg stays between 45° and 46° South, loves the southern conditions and is averaging an excellent 140 miles per day to arrive in Hobart just in time for New Years Eve!
The high is playing tricks on the leaders.
Simon Curwen (GBR), the undisputed leader since Cape Finisterre, lost mile after mile last week when he was stopped in a huge high pressure area that slammed into him… He took advantage of his time in the calm doing the work on his scheduled list in Hobart, including overhauling the mounting of his Hydrovane. It is now out of the center of the anticyclone, but is sailing upwind by exiting from the North. Not his best experience as he shared today.
As you know, I am in the middle of an anticyclone, which adds a lot of time to the walk. It’s very frustrating, I could get to Hobart now, and there’s still a week, I think, to get there. It’s frustrating, but all the work I had planned to do in Hobart is now done, so I can plan a quick stop there.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the high, Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF) and Abhilash Tomy (IND) clawed back miles in perfect downwind conditions, up to 180 miles a day. They both improved their 7-day distance records, with Kirsten posting 1165 miles on December 12 and Abhilash 1145 on December 17, both regaining a significant backlog of the leader.
Kirsten received detailed weatherfax maps of the high as well as daily weather reports from Australia. She was able to stay in fresh wind by rounding the windless bubble, and thus regain a lot of miles. Simon’s weatherfax does not work, he receives weather reports well but his lack of knowledge of Australian geography prevents him from understanding the weather situation as a whole.
We have already seen the soap opera: on arrival at Cape Town, when Kirsten made a “South African spoon”, by the south of the Saint Helena anticyclone, gaining on Simon upwind to the north of the system, while ‘Abhilash was stuck in the middle, with no wind, in a state of extreme frustration.
Simon is 360 miles from Hobart and Kirsten is 560 miles. The navigator only has 200 more miles to go to Hobart than Simon, compared to 700 miles last week, and Abhilash is only 300 miles behind Kirsten. The 3 leaders now share the same weather system and will have similar strategies. Nothing is certain, since the anticyclone moving towards the south-east will be in their path, while Simon still has to tack in more constant winds than Kirsten who will be in unstable winds. Simon’s arrival in Hobart is scheduled for December 23.
This is the opportunity Kirsten has been waiting for, her Cape George 36 is made for powerful long runs in the South Seas. To have a chance of winning the GGR, she must be well ahead when rounding Cape Horn. Simon showed that he was very strong in crossing the Atlantic, so the game is very open. Abhilash is ambushed and Cpt. Gugg is always in touch!
Guy Waites (GBR) is not at the helm of the wealthiest project, but he is certainly one of the most experienced sailors, having already sailed many solo campaigns on smaller sailboats. Only the lack of time prevented him from crane Sagarmatha before the start, like many other participants.
A decision that had dramatic consequences for the sailor from Scarborough who led the fleet in the North Atlantic in his mano a mano with Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF), before discovering an invasion of barnacles on his Tradewind 35.
Guy arrived in Cape Town last week, just in time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, with friends and crew from the Clipper Race. He cleaned Sagarmatha’s hull, applied two coats of antifouling and put her back in the water on Monday morning.
The boat is in the water now, I went refueling with Peter and the RCYC have been a great host. Sagarmatha is ready to go and I’m waiting for the right weather window to continue south, probably next Thursday when the depression brings northwesterly winds that will push us both in the right direction. It’s a race against myself now, but I know I can gain ground.
Guy has 5,400 miles to cover before January 31. It’s not an easy task requiring an average distance of over 132 miles per day, but not impossible for Guy. What is certain, however, is that he will greatly appreciate the long cavalcades downwind in the South Seas on Sagarmatha with a clean and smooth hull! Come on Guy, don’t give up!
We would like to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this incredible material
Golden Globe Race. Six competitors out of 16 still in the race!