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Golden Globe Race - Day 169: Jean-Luc Van Den Heede's lead cut by further 154 miles

by Barry Pickthall, Golden Globe Race 17 Dec 2018 16:37 GMT 17 December 2018
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has suffered further damage to the mast on MATMUT and must sail with extreme caution upwind © Christophe Favreau / GGR / PPL

Dutchman Mark Slats has taken a further 154 miles out French Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede over the past seven days, reducing the gap to 794 miles with 4,300 miles still to run before the winner returns to Les Sables d'Olonne at the end of January.

Both have had their share of problems during the past week. Slats, who was suffering severe stommach problems untl tracking the source to rotten milk, was forced to lie hove-to for the first time during this race after running into heavy head winds.

On Saturday he texted: "Bad weather gusting 40kt and 5m seas on the nose. No fun!"

Followed five hours later with: "Hove to now. First time I stop sailing because bad weather"

Since then, business has returned to normal but Slats has to endure another 500 miles of northerly winds before beginning to experience the Easterly air flow now benefitting Van Den Heede 13 degrees to the north.

These head winds gave Van Den Heede equal concern at the end of last week when the pounding even in moderate conditions, extended the crack in Matmut's aready damaged mast. The 73-year old Frenchman was forced to climb the mast a sixth time to reinforce the temporary binding that is all that holds the lower shroud attachment points to the spreader above. Now that he is back to reaching across the winds, all seems OK for the moment, but he knows that to finish, he must sail very conservativly.

Today, Estonian Uku Randmaa is within 230 miles of Cape Horn, and looking forward to rounding some time on Wednesday. He is experiencing boisterous 40 knot following winds at present, but the forecast suggests that this could die to almost nothing within the next 48 hours.

Fourth placed American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar has repaired the failing bearings within the steering pedestal aboard his Tradewind 35 Puffin, and having successfully dodged the storm that threatened to overtake him last week by heading south into the NO-GO Zone, now faces the prospect of running the gauntlet before another low pressure system in three days time. This one threatens to be the biggest storm to-date with 60-70 knot winds and 12-15 metre seas. Race HQ has advised Kopar to thread his way south of the first small storm but not drop below 53S latitude before December 20.

Finland's Tapio Lentinen whose Gaia 36 Asteria remains covered in barnacles and trails in 5th place among the Glolden Globe racers some 6,300 miles behind the race leader, has a solid breeze in typical southern Ocean weather for now and will have been buoyed by the fact that he has taken 102 miles out of Jean-Luc's lead over the past week.

Igor flying home for a medical

Igor Zaretskiy, who dropped down to the Chichester Class after stopping in Albany Western Australia last week to rid his hull of barnacles and make repairs, announced today that he will return to Moscow for a health check before continuing in the race. In 2010, the Russian sailor suffered a heart attack after winning the Jester Challenge solo transatlantic race, and after undergoing a further health check in Australia last week, has been advised to return to Russia and see if further surgery in necessary.

There is no time timit for Igor to restart in the Chichester Class - Francis Chichester stopped for 48 days in Sydney during his one-stop circumnavigation in 1966/7 - but there are practical limitations. After the end of March, the onset of winter storms in the Southern Ocean makes it unadvisable to attempt a Cape Horn. rounding until the following Spring.

Susie Goodall statement

After arriving in Punta Arenas on Friday, Susie Goodall thanked all those involved in her rescue and suggested that she can't wait to get back to sea. In a statement she says;

"If you asked me if I would do this again, now knowing what it's really like, I would say yes in a heartbeat! But as I said to the Chilean Navy captain who brought me ashore from MV Tian Fu, 'I created so much work for everyone involved in the rescue,' to which he responded 'Of course you must do it again!'

You may ask why?! Some people just live for adventure – it's human nature. And for me, the sea is where my adventure lies. Having grown up admiring Tracy Edwards and Ellen MacArthur, I just knew that one day I needed to try to do this too. Every seafarer understands the risks involved but that's what makes us stronger and able to overcome other challenges in life.

I can't tell you what is next beyond spending time with family and friends over Christmas and enjoying a glass of grog, but that fire in my belly is far from out, so watch this space...!"

Click here to read full statement

Retired

Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut

Chichester Class

1. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda - In Albany, W Australia

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