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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Four skippers still battling to finish the Global Solo Challenge

by Marco Nannini / Global Solo Challenge 22 Mar 20:49 GMT 22 March 2024
David Linger, Flag George – Koloa Maoli - Global Solo Challenge © David Linger

With Andrea Mura completing the Global Solo Challenge podium on Sunday certainly the focus of many of those following the event has drifted away towards other ongoing events and others about to start. However, 4 skippers are still at sea and for them there is no option to just scroll away from their long adventures.

Riccardo Tosetto and Francois Gouin are both preparing for their final dash to the finish, with the Italian skipper less than 1500 miles to A Coruna and the French captain lagging just 240 miles behind in terms of distance to the finish. However, whilst Riccardo is already north of the area influenced by the Azores high pressure system and can set his eyes on the final destination, Francois needs to keep sailing north before he can make a turn towards the Iberian peninsula.

Riccardo is currently expected to arrive around the 30th of March, which would require him to sail around 200 miles a day, which is plausible in the strong following winds that are forecast. Francois on the other hand has 2 more days to sail north, then may be affected by the centre of the Azores high pressure itself which will be slowly moving south and towards him. The patch of light winds should keep displacing south so that Francois should find the northwesterly winds even if initially he were to get stuck in light airs. He should be sailing in favourable winds starting from the 26th when he will be around 1100 miles to the finish and could potentially finish between the 1st morning and the 2nd, although he may be slowed by having to permanently sail with 3 reefs due to his problems with the mainsail track.

David Linger is 1000 miles south of the equator and 4200 miles to the finish. After the storms in late February the skipper of Koloa Maoli has recently had to battle with the fickle and light winds in the area west of Rio and Salvador where the trade winds curl from SE to NW requiring patience to make progress to the north. David, however, should be just one tack away from being able to clear the westernmost part of Brazil on his way north towards the equator and then the Azores high, before he can set his eyes on the final goal of A Coruna. He may have to spend another month at sea before closing the circle where he started from at the end of October last year.

Louis Robein's voyage has been far from simple so far and with new problems with his hydrogenerators and autopilot he has battled to keep going and make repairs. He is now stuck in a large ridge of high pressure which has seen him make little progress for the last couple of days. He tried to head south to avoid being pinned on the blue marble by light winds but the light patch caught up with him whilst still 900 miles away from Cape Horn. Currently the forecast gives manageable conditions for at least a whole week ahead whilst a storm which may be brewing by Cape Horn in 10 days, time by which he could be in the area, so Louis will have to keep monitoring the weather to pick his timing for the rounding.

The long journey is far from over for the French Skipper, and his perseverance and patience through adversity and slow speeds is admirable, many have expressed their sympathy for his difficult journey and we all watch him wishing him safe and fast progress forward. Once out of the Pacific at least he will have more options should he feel enough is enough, but knowing Louis I am sure that he will do everything to complete his journey.

Currently we are hoping to arrange a closing ceremony for the 2023/2024 Global Solo Challenge to coincide with Louis' arrival, I think, in keeping with the spirit of this event, it would be a fantastic gesture for all those participants in this edition who can, to be there when the last skipper arrives.

Every skipper of the Global Solo Challenge has the same importance, and we created this event with a very clear goal in mind to allow skippers to participate with the means available to them creating a fair playing field so that it would not just be budget and boat to determine who would get the most attention or win the event. Then of course, each skipper needs to do their part from both a sailing and a communication point of view, we try to offer an equal stage for all participants.

The Notice of Event for the 2027-2028 event has already been published and our commitment to creating an inclusive event has further been reflected in the entry rules, so that for example in the next edition boats will pay entry fees proportional to their boat size so that the smaller slower boats, which typically are also those with a lesser budget are not burdened excessively compared to those boats and campaigns which have wider access to funds.

We are pleased to say that we already have some confirmed entries for 2027-2028 and many other skippers planning to enter, including several who for a reason or other did not make the 2023 start. We will hold off speaking of the new entrants until this edition is over so as not to create too much confusion, but a preliminary list of entrants is due to appear relatively soon on the website.

Behind the scenes, and whilst still waiting for the last 4 boats at sea to finish, work has already started for the next edition. We are incredibly happy with how things panned out this time as well as being fully aware of many areas where improvements must be made. We are in discussions with our partners and new ones wishing to be part of the next edition and certainly it feels like we will transition seamlessly from working on this edition to the next.

Until then we follow the progress made by Riccardo, Francois, David and Louis and look forward to welcoming them in A Coruna.

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