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Golden Globe Race, Day 208: Van Den Heede within 450 miles of finish

by Barry Pickthall, Golden Globe Race 25 Jan 13:32 GMT 25 January 2019
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede must face one last storm before the finish - Golden Globe Race, Day 208 © Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is now within 450 miles of the Golden Globe Race finish line and expected to receive a huge welcome home in Les Sables d'Olonne on Monday 28th January.

The 73-year old Frenchman and his Rustler 36 yacht Matmut have led this 27,000 mile solo circumnavigation since rounding the Cape of Good Hope on 23rd August last year and stretched this out a 2,000 mile lead before suffering a capsize and serious mast damage during a southern ocean storm on 8th November when 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn.

Since then, second placed Dutch rival Mark Slats (41) sailing another Rustler 36, Ohpen Maverick, has been catching up. On 15th January, the difference between the two yachts in terms of distance to finish, was just 50 miles. But since then the French veteran, who is about to complete his 6th solo circumnavigation, has delivered a master class in ocean racing strategy to extend his advantage to 412 miles by 08:00 UTC today.

Now, Jean-Luc, and more importantly, the damaged mast on Matmut face one more test when a storm is due to blow across the Bay of Biscay producing 45-55 knot NW winds and viscous seas with waves building to 9-10m..

Race Chairman, Don McIntyre, says: "Jean-Luc is a great seaman with vast experience and he knows what is coming. This is his backyard. The Bay of Biscay has a fearsome reputation and he will have to be very careful. If he needs to run off downwind for safety, he will he heading away from Les Sables d'Olonne and the finish line, and then have to sail back more into the wind once the storm has passed. This all adds time and distance, so his ETA is still not clear. This morning we are looking at sometime between 10:00 and 14:00UTC on Monday, but this is like a game with this storm presenting one last roll of the dice.

The Challenge in the next few days is great and the opportunity for Mark is real. While Jean-Luc is struggling to make the finish line, Slats will be sailing hard and fast in wonderful weather ready to exploit any further damage that Matmut might sustain."

Follow the drama as it unfolds on GGR Facebook Page. Further updates will be posted at 12:00 on Friday and Saturday and at frequent intervals thereafter. The finish and press conference for both skippers will also be streamed live here, so watch this space..

Chichester Class

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

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

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