GOLDEN GLOBE RACE NEWS...Then there were 5

Post by: Dee White
14 January 2019

By derivative work: Flappiefh [CC BY-SA 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

On July 1st 2018 seventeen intrepid sailors crossed the start line in Les Sables d’Olonne, aiming to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in the latest solo, non-stop voyage, with no outside assistance. They are using boats and equipment similar to those used in the very first Golden Globe Race in 1968. Now only five remain in the race. One has dropped down to Chichester class, while the other eleven have been defeated by equipment failure and breakages, the weather and the mental torment of being alone on the wild ocean for such a long time.

As the final days of the race approach the leader is the Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in his Rustler 36 Matmut. He has been a potential winner from the very beginning of the race when he crossed the start line in 2nd place. He is now a mere 2,000 miles from the finish at Les Sables and expects to arrive there on 26th January.

In second position is Dutchman Mark Slats in his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick. He has benefited from Jean-Luc being forced into serving out an 18 hour penalty for improper use of his satellite phone, during which time he managed to close the distance to the finishing line to within 417 miles of the Frenchman. Also in his favour is the wind factor. Jean-Luc has lost the NE Trade winds and is facing the frustration of very light winds while Slats continues to make strong gains. This could make an exciting end to the race, especially as the two skippers are racing identical Rustler 36 designs. Matmut carries a smaller rig and considerable mast damage which Jean-Luc does not want to put too much pressure on, while Ophen Maverick has the benefit of a larger sail plan, but she is showing signs of serious wear which could lead to breakages.

Another Rustler 36, One and All, skippered by Estonian Uku Randmaa, is currently in third place. Having survived last week’s South Atlantic storm unscathed he is now drifting in a hole, making very slow progress as he battles towards the equator,

Istvan Kopar from USA in his Tradewind 35 Puffin, is currently lying in fourth place. He has made the most progress in the past 5 days or so but with head winds his speed has dropped to 2.8knots.

Trailing in fifth place is the Finnish entry Tapio Lehtinen in his Gaia 36 Asteria. Her speed has been sapped by severe barnacle growth but she is now running before strong NE winds towards Cape Horn. Even so her humourist skipper is wondering whether she will be able to take 2nd place in the Guinness Book of records for the Slowest Time Round The World. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston set the time of 312 days 50 years ago when he won the 1968 race.

He was the only skipper to finish that first race 50 years ago, out of the 9 boats that started. This time there are 5 still battling for the title out of the 17 starters. It could be a close and exciting finish, with a battle for 1st and also 3rd place.

Watch this space around the 26th January as the results come in and read about the lead up and the early stages of the race in my previous articles.