Please select your home edition
Edition
Crewsaver 2021 Safetyline LEADERBOARD
Product Feature
Typhoon Fintra Rash Vest
Typhoon Fintra Rash Vest

STORM ALERT! Golden Globe Race leaders face a big one

by Golden Globe Race 7 Feb 2023 16:06 GMT

With 20,000 miles and five months at sea, 70% of their voyage is complete. The leading yachts are starting to show little signs of fatigue, requiring constant maintenance, just as they are undertaking the most difficult part of the course.

They had 1800 miles to run between the end of the exclusion zone and the Cape Horn but now a storm has changed all that. The window that had opened last week for Simon Curwen to reach Cape Horn before February 8 has now closed and a succession of low-pressure systems are entering the area, affecting all of the GGR entrants. As summer wanes the number of Low pressure systems passing is sure to increase.

In fact, no one in the leading trio has arrived after 20.000 miles unscathed. Simon Curwen (GBR) has a list of 13 items to sort in Chile onboard Clara besides his broken wind vane and a ripped dodger. Abhilash Tomy (IND) spent 22 hours straight repairing Bayanat after his heavy front on January 26, ranging from sail damage, mainsail sheet track, rigging and windvane maintenance. GGR leader Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF) has broken her spinnaker pole and can no longer fly her twin headsails.

She still has one larger heavy pole. She explained it failed from fatigue rather than shock loads. It simply wore out from regular constant use with her special twin sail rig. Now she is sailing with Clipped wings and it will surely affect her future downwind performance. She needed light winds to change this twin sail for a traditional genoa, but was forced to do it in moderate winds before the storm. It was quite a challenge but reported happy to get it done.

"Right now the problem I'm sitting on is quite stressful because my rig is taking a lot of strain and I can't afford that, but without the big twin-headsail I'm hardly moving. It was quite a wrestle to change the headsails alone in bigger conditions that I would have liked, but it"s now done and I can focus on my storm tactics" Kirsten Neuschäfer

This comes as the biggest low pressure encountered by the fleet so far is crossing their path en route to Cape Horn. There is no escaping this beast the size of Brazil. It jumped out of the exclusion zone before heading down the coast of Chile. Following GGR weather alerts and routing suggestions, Abhilash and Kirsten sailed NE away from Cape Horn for two days, climbing to 45 south latitude, positioning themselves in the safer quadrant.

They both expressed concerns about stressing their yachts with 10,000 miles still to go. Kirsten is watching her rig very carefully with a feeling that it is working hard and has prepared her warps and chains ready to slow the boat. This "go north" tactic should allow them to spend less time in extreme weather and ride more manageable seas, but 36 hours in winds exceeding 60 knots gusts and 11-metre seas is assured. Only Simon who is in advance on his plans at 43 degreesS 77 degreesW will not be exposed.

"Starting the GGR two months later than in 2018 really has produced remarkably better weather, but you cannot hide when rounding Cape Horn. This is a large system. WE are routing Abhilash and Kirsten to minimise impact, but it is blowing hard. We send forecasts every 12 hours with wind direction, Strength, Gusts, Sea height, Swell direction and Barometric pressure. Here is Abhilash for today. 7F 1200Z N39 G55 S5.7NW B982 1800Z W37 G55 S5.7SW B984 2400Z W39 G55 S8SW B988 8F 0600 W35 G49 S8.1SW B992 1200Z W28 G43 S7.7SW B996 1800Z W24 G35 S7.1SW B999 Good luck!" Don McIntyre

The back of the fleet has not been spared either, with Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) having the highest number of low-pressure systems encountered in the fleet so far. Guy Waites (GBR) having the worst weather to date, until today, lost his life raft last week during a knock-down in winds over 60 knots and 10 metre seas. He was running under bare poles with 140 metre warps and heavy anchor chains out in the steep low-pressure system for days. He experienced a few knockdowns but all was OK. While strapped in his bunk he felt a massive wave bigger than the best and a sudden powerful Knockdown with his mast in the water. The raft was gone!

Sagarmatha had stopped in Cape Town to remove barnacles and moved to Chichester class. He is now making headway towards Hobart. He will assess options on arrival, but feels too many things are stacking up against continuing. It is now early February, late in the season for a Cape Horn Passage. Regardless of his decision, once arriving in Hobart, he is out of the GGR as he missed the gate which closed on 31st January.

"I was strapped in and only thought about the mast, which thankfully was OK. In the morning, the liferaft was gone, vanished. The stainless-steel cradle was bent and the painter had snapped, so the whole thing was gone. If I continue now without a liferaft, I don't think anyone in my family will be happy with me for a long time!." Guy Waites in his last Safety Call.

Time is of the essence for everyone!

Guy is not the only one to be late on his voyage. Ian Herbert Jones (GBR) who passed the Hobart gate on January 18 is only just past Bounty Island, not yet north of the exclusion zone. He is 3000 miles behind Abhilash. South African sailor Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) in Chichester class has been pushing Olleanna hard, building a healthy 400-mille gap with Ian, but both had a hard time after New Zealand and now have an ETA at Cape Horn for the second half of March. This runs the risk of heavier and more frequent storms so the adventure continues.

Only Michael Guggenberger (AUT) is holding a relative position with the leaders, but is facing water issues and frustration along the exclusion zone. He inadvertently crossed into this NO GO area for 1,5 hours over the week-end. That generated a 4,5 hour time penalty to be served in the Atlantic Penalty Box on the way to Les Sables D"Olonne. This current storm passed just just a few hundred miles infront of him.

For Simon Curwen (GBR), leading the Chichester class, time is still of the essence. He would like to join his former runners-up to Cape Horn and land ahead of them in Les Sables d'Olonne! With no detailed map of the coastal area around Puerto Mount, GGR is assisting with Navigational information and local coordination for his stop to make repairs. He is allowed to access his emergency GPS for the safest and easiest landing after 158 days at sea.

"I am making good progress, working on the boat at the same time. I already repaired my engine in preparation for the landing, but I'm steering an awful lot of time. You really start appreciating your windvane.. maybe I should not have given it funny names!" Simon Curwen/Howdens

Rather than transit 60 miles each way to Puerto Montt, 120 miles in highly tidal waters with currents up to 9 knots and strong wind gusts, the British Sailor is now thinking to have the Hydrovane spares sent to him in the shelter of the entrance and carrying the repairs on anchor, in the bay of Ancud! He has the support of his Team that has been sent to Chile by his sponsor Howdens, local sailors who are following the GGR and Chile's government agencies who have been informed of his imminent arrival and shares his latest thoughts on Monday's safety call.

The GGR has inspired great interest in Celestial Navigation!

The pleasure of deriving your position from heavenly bodies utilising a Sextant and timepiece is well expressed by all GGR skippers. It is one of the highlights of being in the race and most would never have experienced it without entering the GGR. It is art and science combined to give a feeling of being at one with the heavens and earth. It is not as complex as most think and anyone can do it.

GGR has joined forces with RUBICON 3 to offer An amazing opportunity to sail across the Atlantic Ocean using only celestial navigation - with full training.

Susie Goodall, a GGR 2018 entrant, was a previous Skipper and Nav instructor with Rubicon 3. This special GGR celestial navigation transatlantic crossing from Antigua in the Caribbean to Portsmouth in England is on March 26th to April 30th 2023. It is open to anyone with basic prior sailing experience. NO celestial Nav. experience is required. You will be given instruction before departure. You then Navigate all the way to the UK!

The crossing is on a Clipper 60 Round the world yacht and the skipper is Patrick Van Der Zijden, 2 x RTW race skipper. Full details here.

Berths are limited. If you would like to book an exclusive GGR berth to take part, contact Rubicon 3 directly and tell them you are part of the GGR family on +44(0)20 3086 7245 or

Related Articles

Making waves and setting records
Kirsten Neuschäfer on how life has changed in the last 11 months Far from the glamour of a glittering awards ceremonies, which bring together the who's who of global sport, Kirsten Neuschäfer finds solace in the vast expanse of the ocean, a place where the only spotlight comes from the sun. Posted on 14 Mar
2023 Blue Water Medal winner announced
Kirsten Neuschäfer, the winner of the Golden Globe Race, recognised Kirsten Neuschäfer, of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is awarded the Blue Water Medal for 2023 in recognition of the tremendous effort, determination, and skill she exhibited during her 235-day solo circumnavigation in Minnehaha, a Cape George 36 sailboat. Posted on 3 Jan
Erden Eruç on preparing for the 2026 Golden Globe
A Q&A with Erden Eruç about his preparations for the 2026 Golden Globe Race I checked in with Erden Eruç, an 18-time Guinness Book of World Records holder and high-level ocean rower (and my longtime friend), via email, to learn more about his ongoing preparations to compete in the 2026 Golden Globe Race. Posted on 2 Jan
Looking ahead to a year full of sailing riches
From the Arkea Ultim Challenge to the Vendee Globe, 2024 promises to be a big year The sailing world is about to enjoy an embarrassment of riches. This is because 2024 is an Olympic year, an America's Cup year, and a Vendee Globe year. But first, get ready for the Arkea Ultim Challenge. Posted on 2 Jan
Guy deBoer to reenact 2022 Golden Globe Race
American solo sailor is setting sail once again aboard his yacht, Spirit American solo sailor Guy deBoer is setting sail once again, departing from the port harbor of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on September 4th, 2024. Posted on 24 Dec 2023
Cole Brauer preapres for Global Solo Challenge
To become the first American woman to race solo around the globe In five days, Cole Brauer sets off to become the first American woman to race a sailboat solo around the globe. Posted on 24 Oct 2023
Erden Eruç on the 2026 Golden Globe Race
A Q&A with Erden Eruç on entering the 2026 Golden Globe Race I checked in with Erden Eruç, a 18-time Guinness Book of World Records holder and high-level ocean rower (and my friend), via email, to learn more about his plans to compete in the 2026 Golden Globe Race. Posted on 30 Aug 2023
Kirsten takes the Golden Globe Race crown
Huge Les Sables D'Olonne prize giving celebration In the history of sailing one event changed everything. The Golden Globe Race sits high in the mind of all sailors and one man, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, winner of the first edition in 1968 has inspired tens of millions ever since. Posted on 25 Jun 2023
Last finisher in Golden Globe Race 2022
Jeremy Bagshaw brings closure and more panache to the GGR 2022 finish with no food, or water It's all over! Once again, the third edition of the Golden Globe Race has delivered an incredibly spectacular human adventure that no one could ever have imagined when the 16 sailors set out from Les Sables d'Olonne on Sept 4th last year. Posted on 15 Jun 2023
Jeremy Bagshaw final finisher in Golden Globe Race
Storms, barnacles, water shortages, and a broken forestay in the final approach Low on water, slowed down by barnacles, and sailing in storms, a round-the-world odyssey Posted on 8 Jun 2023