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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

One more storm, two more oceans for the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024

by Marco Nannini / Global Solo Challenge 7 May 17:37 BST 7 May 2024
Cole Brauer - Global Solo Challenge © Cole Brauer Ocean Racing

Louis Robein is the last competitor in the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024 who is still at sea, we have all followed his resilience and determination as he faced trials and tribulations in his epic voyage.

After more than 7 months since leaving A Coruna and nearly 5 months sailing in the roaring forties, Louis has finally sailed north of the 40th parallel into warmer weather.

Louis had postponed celebrations at point Nemo and Cape Horn, too busy dealing with technical issues, nursing his boat through cold weather and harsh conditions. Finally, the rising temperatures allowed him to take off his gloves and hat, put away his heavy boots and take off several layers of clothing. Psychologically this must have felt like a rebirth, a moment to cherish whilst looking north towards warm weather. Time to pop that bottle of Moêt et Chandon that remained unopened through all the challenges of the previous long and difficult weeks.

The great adventure of the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024 is now the subject of the many talks that skippers are organizing in yacht clubs of their home countries. Congratulations to Cole Brauer and Riccardo Tosetto for being named sailor of the month by Scuttlebutt and Saily respectively. This is only the beginning of the many awards the sailors of the GSC will receive after becoming part of the small elite of solo circumnavigators.

For Louis Robein the voyage is not quite over yet. The French skipper will face one last storm developing in the South Atlantic over the next few days before finally reaching the warm trade weeks off the coast of Brazil. The journey will continue towards the equator and into the North Atlantic where the advancing spring will turn into summer, hopefully meaning this will be the last worrying storm of his circumnavigation. He still has more than 5500 miles to go but he must certainly start to see a distant light at the end of the tunnel in his amazing journey.

There are other skippers that still need to close the circle on their adventure. Edouard De Keyser flew back to Belgium leaving his boat Solarwind in Port Lincoln Australia. Alessandro Tosetti is back in Turin, Italy, having left his ULDB 65' Aspra in Auckland where his rigging will be replaced. Pavlin Nadvorni's Espresso Martini is in Lyttelton, east coast of New Zealand. The three skippers are all planning to go back to their boats at the beginning of the Austral summer, at the end of the year, to sail back to Europe at a more favourable time of the year.

Ronnie Simpson, after dismasting and being forced to abandon his boat, decided he had to get back sailing to shake off the disappointment of his unfortunate accident. Whilst still hoping to be able to step up to an IMOCA campaign for the Vendée Globe 2028, he has confided that he is not dismissing the option to return to the Global Solo Challenge 2027-2028.

Ari Känsäkoski also suffered a dismasting and whilst in his case he has managed to save the boat and reach Durban in South Africa, the future looked really uncertain. Attempting to repair the mast locally was eventually dismissed as an option, as autumn will soon give way to winter making it unwise to sail the boat back to Europe after repairs. Selling the boat locally did not work out either and eventually Ari came to the conclusion that he had to bring his boat back home to avoid the risk of a total write off of this project whilst continuing to incur expenses with no practical solution in sight.

Shipping a boat via cargo is easier said than done, racing boats need to sit on appropriate cradles or the risk of damage to the hull is too significant. Cradles with adjustable legs commonly found in boatyards are not suitable and Ari opted to build saddles that could accommodate the boat, built on top of a 20ft container which is easily handled by port cranes. The saddles are shaped to distribute the weight of the boat evenly.

Last month Ari launched a fundraiser asking for help to front the many expenses he is incurring to build the cradle in Durban and for the cost of the shipment. The response of the public of the Global Solo Challenge has been heartwarming and Ari managed to complete the construction of the supports for his boat and book a space on a ship. His boat will be loaded on Thursday 9th onto ship "MACS Green Mountain" and is due to be offloaded in Hambourg, Baltic Sea, on June 13th.

Ari sent me the photos of the work on his cradle supports and wished to thank all those that helped him to get this far. Bringing the boat back to Europe is a significant milestone as this will mean not all has been lost. In fact, Ari looks at the future ahead one step at a time, from Hamburg he needs to bring the boat back to Finland where he will be able to close the circle of the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024 and launch a new campaign to be on the start line again in 2027.

Ari's quiet and calm management of his accident at sea and his step by step approach with sorting out problems has earned him the admiration and respect of many followers of the event and I am sure I am not alone in hoping this amazing sailor and problem solver will manage to achieve his circumnavigation dream in the next edition of the GSC. If you wish to help Ari please visit here.

As the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024 slowly fades out work has begun for the 2027-2028 edition with plenty of activity in the background and some great news that we will soon be able to make public.

We will also soon start introducing the skippers that have already formally entered, whilst many others are already actively working on finalising their entries. The Notice of Event for the Global Solo Challenge 2027-2028 is already online and several boats have come onto the market for sale, skippers can submit their initial enquiries or indeed even apply to enter. The dream of a circumnavigation is a project that often takes years to put together and has to start somewhere, with the first step of the journey.

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