Aiming for Cape Town >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
(November 2, 2022; Day 60) – The leaders of the Golden Globe Race fleet are approaching Cape Town, a traditional round-the-world sailing destination and the last stopover for sailors to assess their condition and that of their boat. before venturing into the Indian Ocean.
With strong winds, swells and lack of shelter in the South, once past the tip of South Africa, it is difficult to turn back.
Some sailors have solved their problems and maintenance at sea. In the lead, Simon Curwen (GBR) who has caught up with his jib halyard but is now faced with energy problems. Damien Guillou (FRA) dismantled and reassembled his Hydrovane, including the transmission, while Ertan Beskardes (GBR) finally sorted out his electrical problems and returned to full power.
With the problem of barnacles and the impossibility of checking the hull before Storm Bay in Tasmania where scraping is illegal, several sailors are wondering if an anchorage in South Africa would be possible. Others like Elliott Smith (USA) will try to sort out their leaky deck, Arnaud Gaist and Damien Guillou (FRA) will change their jib combination, while some want to check the systems or simply feel the warmth of human contact before taking on the wide. the extreme solitude of the Indian Ocean.
Also worth noting is the Cape photo gate, through which all solo skippers must pass to deposit their media, and which has become a welcome opportunity for the fleet.
“We decided to make a film in Cape Town to follow in the footsteps of Bernard Moitessier whom the GGR 2022 celebrates,” explained Don McIntyre, founder and president of the GGR. “It’s also an opportunity to share with the public the adventures of the sailors crossing the doldrums, the equator and entering the South Atlantic, but several competitors are looking for a quick stopover before heading south.
As stated in the notice of race, sailors cannot enter the harbour, but the outer breakwater provides shelter from the dry south-easterly wind that blows at this time of year. There is no mooring buoy available but they can anchor in 14m depth to prepare for the long lonely leg in the Indian Ocean to Hobart’s photo gate.
Most will check the condition of their hulls and if they are free of barnacles, and all will take advantage of the coast and human proximity to get as much information about the fleet and the weather as they can after weeks without weather maps. Meanwhile, some will have a much-anticipated catch-up with family and friends in person or via Face-time.
The leaders – Curwen (GBR) and Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) – are sailing upwind the northern route in heavy seas like today, while Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA) and Pat Lawless (IRL) chose the southern option on a longer route but faster and more comfortable pace.
It works well for Neuschäfer, in second position this morning. Damien Guillou (FRA) and Abhilash Tomy (IND) who had remained in a middle lane are now in the calm bubble, but should come under some pressure coming from the south, where Michael Guggenberger (AUT) is progressing well.
These choices are made even more difficult by the lack of meteorological information. After unsuccessfully trying to reach Rio’s broadcasts for weather charts and negotiating the South Atlantic High, the fleet had high hopes in Cape Town but got the same number of weather charts: none.
The second half of the fleet is sailing in different conditions. Beskardes and Jeremy Bagshaw (RSA) are slowly emerging from a barometric swamp that has made their progress slow and unpredictable so far. Elliott Smith (USA), Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR) and Arnaud Gaist (FRA) are further west, but faster and on a direct course to Cape Town, although a change in wind from north to south will bring a confused sea, thanks to a depression crossing from west to east.
Before this last stretch to Cape Town, it was champagne sailing in the southern hemisphere for the sailors, with conditions that brought unprecedented performance to the 2022 GGR.
GGR followers know Guillou’s magic number of 550 miles, the distance that separates him from Curwen at Cape Finisterre after the French skipper’s re-start. Around 500 miles separate the weather systems in the Southern Ocean and a lower number could help Guillou get the fleet back into the same weather system as the leader, currently 550 miles ahead.
The 24 hour distance assesses the average speeds over a day: 168 miles in 24 hours is an average of 7 knots, an excellent performance for any production cruising yacht, even more so for long keel GGR yachts, laden with provisions and of water.
Neuschäfer is by far the fastest sailor in the GGR fleet. He holds the 24-hour record at 183nm on October 26, averaging 7.6 knots, and has 14 of the best 20 days under his belt, leaving only Tomy (177nm) and Lehtinen (174nm) to pick the remaining crumbs. Other sailors above 168 miles a day are Guillou, Curwen, Lawless and Guggenberger.
These top speeds contrast sharply with the impending disaster for some of the participants: the dreaded gooseneck barnacles.
They were first spotted by Jeremy Bagshaw (RSA) and Guillou after crossing the Cape Verde Islands, then by Lehtinen haunted by his 2018 experience, who overcame his fear of sharks and went too far to clean his shell, removing about sixty of them.
Guy Waites (GBR), one of the best prepared sailors, was unable to retrieve them at sea with a scrapper and announced to Race Direction that he was diverting to Latin America to clean his hull. It was a shock for the skippers and a wake-up call for everyone.
Since then, Lawless and Beskardes have discovered some and all the sailors dive at the first opportunity to clean the hull before reaching the colder waters of the Southern Oceans.
“GGR is all about planning, preparation and execution,” McIntyre noted. “Barnacles, which were already a problem in 2018, are one of them. The 2018 winner Jean-Luc VDH had no barnacle problem. Why? Its preparation has been exemplary with serious anti-fouling attention in every respect: three coats of hard paint plus two coats of abrasive for navigating the Atlantic where barnacle activity is high, and a dedicated protective bag around the hull before departure to keep sunlight and sediment away. He understood the problem and it showed.
Interestingly, hardly any of the participants followed their proven process, instead avoiding repeating Lethinen’s mistake, but this is now proving insufficient for the fleet and a high price to pay for some.
Another factor is the ban on toxic substances in antifoulings due to higher durability requirements, which certainly makes them less effective than in 1968 and quite less than four years ago. Rising water temperatures in the Atlantic and increased barnacle activity add to the challenge.
On their way to Cape Town, it was difficult for the leaders to place the high without a weather chart and proof of their seamanship. At least most of them have avoided being trapped inside so far, with Curwen and Lehtinen on the north side, making their way through southeast winds in windy conditions.
Bypassing the high by the southern route as Lawless and Neuschäfer are now doing is a bold move, it adds many miles to the route with no guarantee that the wind will hold, that the high will move north and that there will be a way to cross to the South African coast.
Neuschäfer has shown us time and time again that she is no stranger to bold options and will always try something new rather than stick with the fleet. It paid off and sometimes cost him dearly, but this time he seems to be pulling off the South Atlantic heist.
While Lawless chose a middle course too close to the center of the high, Neuschäfer pushed another two degrees south to be in stronger winds, and has been posting the best daily averages in the fleet for several days. He has moved up from 5th position last week to 2nd today, and since he will be coming to Cape Town by a southern route, he could gain valuable miles on Curwen upwind as he approaches Cape Town.
2022 GGR Competitors:
Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII (long keel version)
Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36
Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale 34
Ertan Beskardes (60) / United Kingdom / Rustler 36
Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35
Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32
Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Vizcaya 36
Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36
Simon Curwen (63) / United Kingdom / Biscay 36
Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead Sloop
Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36 (retired September 8)
Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36 (grounded September 16)
Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34 (retired to Lanzarote on September 22)
About the 2022 Golden Globe Race
On September 4, 2022, the third edition of the Golden Globe Race set off from Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Sixteen skippers will face eight months of isolation sailing 30,000 miles across five oceans solo, non-stop and unassisted.
In 1968, as man was about to take his first steps on the moon, a mild-mannered and modest young man embarked on his own record-breaking voyage of discovery. He had entered the original Golden Globe. Nine men took the start of this first solo non-stop sailing race around the world. Only one completed. He was 29, Sir Robin Knox Johnston. History has been made. Navigating only with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable clock, Sir Robin sailed around the world.
In 2018, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this first record, the Golden Globe Race was revived. It immediately gained traction with adventurers, captivated by the spirit and the opportunity. Eighteen started with five finishers.
To embrace the original race, competitors must sail in production boats between 32 and 36 feet overall and designed before 1988 that have a full-length keel with a rudder attached to their trailing edge. Additionally, sailors have limited communications equipment and can only use sextants, paper charts, wind-up clocks, and cassette tapes for music.