STORM ALERT! Golden Globe Race leaders face a big one

A Large storm is pounding Abhilash and Kirsten right now 1100 miles NW of Cape Horn. With 20.000 miles and 156 days on the clock, boats and sailors suffer wear and tear. Simon Curwen (UK) HOWDENS approaching Chile, pondering his options for a quick repair. Guy Waites (UK) heads to Hobart, after a knockdown and losing his raft. Now assessing STOP or GO options. GGR joins with RUBICON3 to promote the lost art of celestial Navigation.

7 February

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 its 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 enroute 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°S 77°W 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 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.

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.

Day 164: Kirsten Neuschäfer first around Cape Horn in the Golden Globe Race

Kirsten rounds Cape Horn on 15 February leading the GGR fleet. Abhilash Tomy, windvane failure close in on Lee shore and heavy weather faces difficult decisions overnight. Michael Guggenberger, 1000 miles away, has an ongoing good weather window. Simon Curwen seeks refuge again, as  strong Southerlies off the coast of Chile prove too much!

16 February

The Golden Globe Race is all about the stories! A human adventure of months alone struggling to get back to Les Sables d’Olonne France where it all began. Day 164 was a big one! While Kirsten was flying around Cape Horn, just 300 miles north Abhilash was struggling in heavy weather on a dangerous lee shore, with the tiller lashed and a broken windvane unable to tack to safety. Meanwhile Michael Guggenberger 1000 miles to the Northwest was sailing down to Cape Horn in near perfect weather that may hold for some time.

It’s been an eventful month of February for Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF), finally rounding Cape Horn at 2020 UTC 15th Feb. She moved to first place after 150 days of racing and since had to face two storms, breaking a spinnaker pole and taking down her massive twin sail alone on Minnehaha rocked by the residual swell.

With the final 10,000 miles to Les Sables on her mind and sensing pressure on her beloved yacht, she sails a conservative course further and longer towards the north-east to avoid the stronger winds and sea in the first front on February 7th, trailing warps and nursing Minnehaha in the ensuing storm. Then finally a southerly course South of Diego Ramirez Islands creating sea room the Chilean coast before finally heading up for a long look at the infamous final Cape of the course. A treasured memory!

With over 240,000 miles sailing experience she knows this area very well sailing many times as a commercial skipper to Antarctica. But this is the first time she crosses the Pacific solo to get around. The famous rock was surrounded by squalls that forced her to make continuous adjustments, poling the Yankee and reducing sails when necessary. Despite all the action, she could hardly speak during her safety call because of the cold shortly before rounding.

“It feels good to be that close, it’s been very rewarding to spot the Diego Ramirez islands. I was hoping to see the lighthouse but saw the land when the twilight came. This was really nice and felt really special. I’m looking forward to rounding the Cape, Staten Island and the Falklands, back into the open ocean.” Kirsten Neuschäfer, Minnehaha

In the past days heading to the Horn, the GGR 2018 veteran Abhilash Tomy (IND) was more exposed to the wind and waves, with 40 knots, gusting 60 which he later said it was closer to “60 knots sustained with occasional lulls in the 40” meaning his Rustler had suffered some damage as he explained in his safety call. The storm repairs, strong weather and waiting for the right conditions to climb the mast meant Bayanat sailed further east than planned. He was getting close to the coast of Chile, a dangerous lee shore and he knew it.

At the worst possible time in 30kts gusting 40kts pressing him toward the coast, at 0852 UTC 15th Feb. he rang GGR control to advise his Wind Pilot wind vane pendulum rudder failed again. He had lashed the tiller and was considering all options. He was unable to sail away from the coast and his current course was intersecting with it in about 10 hours. The wind was expected to drop before then.

He has been facing wind vane issues since the Atlantic many months ago. He had used all his spare pendulum blades. He had been making spare blades by cutting up Bayanat’s chart table which is now gone. He first has to stay away from the lee shore, and the Race Office provides him with his position, weather and sea state information. He was unsure if he would all be able to continue racing without a wind vane, or have to stop for spares, continuing his round the world journey in Chichester Class.

Eventually, many hours later, he called to report that he was able to cut a blade from the boat’s main emergency rudder, after a first try with the toilet door proved to be too weak. He hoped it would last at least a few days. He further reported that he hit his head in the tough conditions but was OK. At 0000 UTC, February 16th he finally tacked away just 11 miles off the coast of Chile with 250 miles to Cape Horn.

One of the biggest challenges of the GGR is getting the Planning right. That includes so many issues including the choice of equipment, the amount of spares to take etc. and that is way before the Preparation which in itself is also critically important. Wind Vanes are one of the most important when you are on such a demanding adventure. The 2018 GGR was an epic story. The 2022 GGR is shaping up as an amazing story with so many unexpected twists and turns. Who will be the first home and how many will make it? Real adventures always have an unknown outcome!“ Don McIntyre, GGR Founder and Chairman.

Michael Guggenberger (AUT) is now only 1100 miles from Cape Horn in a strong position. He continues to ride nothing but favourable weather all the way across the Pacific which looks likely to continue for the next week! Equally for Ian Herbert Jones (GBR) who has been working hard all week with a high-pressure system that hampered his progress East, is also facing some issues, notably the lack of drinking water on board after his freshwater tanks got fouled. He still has about 3400 miles to Cape Horn and is a little apprehensive about the challenge ahead. He knows he is late in the season being the last in the fleet. His ETA at the horn is late March.

Chichester Class is no holiday!

Chichester Class entrants progress is not going exactly as the weather gods had planned. Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) had to climb all the way up to 43° to keep moving only to be swallowed by the same high pressure as Ian. Both Jeremy and Ian will have NW to WNW winds for the rest of the week, pushing them in the right direction at last, albeit in confused seas for the next few days.

Simon Curwen (GBR) the British sailor who led the GGR for 150 days before a detour of a thousand miles to Chile to repair his broken Hydrovane moved him to Chichester Class. Completing a long list of little jobs, he finally left Puerto Montt on Monday 13th February. Breaking out from the fiords he found himself unable to progress towards Cape Horn.

The strong 30K South Westerlies were only allowing him to sail NW away from the Horn with negative VMG, or leading him back towards the coast. He needed to seek refuge and called the Race Office which provided him with options, and Simon decided to safely moor on a buoy in a sheltered bay south of Chiloé Island where he is waiting for the southerlies to decrease before starting again on Friday 16. Simon is less than a thousand miles from Cape Horn, but on the other side of the high pressure, meaning he may have to tack his way south.

With three boats now bound for Cape Horn in the week ahead, there are more stories developing for sure!

DAY 170 Golden Globe: Abhilash Rounds Cape Horn and two more struggling!

Abhilash Tomy’s (Bayanat) second Cape Horn rounding despite gear failure. Capt. Gugg can’t escape 60K winds and 8mtr seas bound for Cape Horn, but did catch much needed drinking water. Simon Curwen fighting to get south, and now a five day window to the Horn. Ian Herbert-Jones and Jeremy Bagshaw slow with head winds, desperate to get east toward the Horn. Kirsten leading the fleet and takes a break with Falkland Island friends!

22 February

Cape Horn is part of international folklore. Most know of its fearsome reputation for ships and lives lost and the emotional relief of finally sailing past. It has been like that for 100’s of years. For solo sailors it is the biggest single objective of any planned circumnavigation and it is not gained easily. Sir Robin Knox Johnston in SUHAILI made the first solo nonstop circumnavigation via the three great capes in the 1968 Golden Globe. Around 180 sailors have now done the same. Vito Dumas in Lehg II his 9.5mtr double ender (not dissimilar to Suhaili) did it first with stops in 1943. Around 150 have now done that too. So 330 solo sailors have been drawn to this ultimate challenge of Cape Horn and a solo circumnavigation.

Four Golden Globe sailors are still trying for Cape Horn. Then it is home to Les Sables d’Olonne which is also the home of the International Association of Cape Horners “HALL OF FAME” recognising many of these great solo sailors.

Abhilash Tomy (IND) sailed past the infamous Cape Horn for the second time and in second position of the 2022 GGR at 18:00 UTC on Saturday 18th February. His first solo rounding was on January 26, 2013 while sailing ‘Mhadei’, a Van de Stadt “Tonga 56” design, supported by the Indian Navy, in an attempt to become the first solo non-stop Indian sailor to do so. He succeeded and the memory of that was strong in his mind this past week. He spent most of the previous week trapped on a lee shore off the coast of Chile, desperately trying to repair his broken wind vane in 30 to 40 knots of wind bound for Cape Horn. He did it!

He says sailing in the GGR is hugely satisfying compared to sailing with modern technical aids. He has become a better sailor through the GGR and is enjoying the challenge. Now he just wants to get to Les Sables d’Olonne.

“It is great to be around Cape Horn, 10 years and 23 days after the first one. It’s been a lot harder this time than it was when I left from India and I still have another 2 months to go. Since January 26, my objective was to round the Horn safely and then sailing fast up the Atlantic. I have spent most of my time inside the boat working on the boat, and now looking forward to sailing again to Les Sables d’Olonne.” Abhilash Tomy, Bayanat.

Is Abhilash’s Bayanat getting tired? Can it make the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne? Abhilash is continuously working to service and fix things. All entrants do, on a regular basis, but it appears Abhilash may have more than usual. Will his windpilot go the distance? He now thinks it will! He sacrificed his chart table and then toilet door for Windvane parts and finally his yacht’s emergency rudder, even dismantling an anchor for more bits. His repairs however, have not been limited to the windvane and have also included stitched sails, broken Halyards, repaired spreaders with various trips aloft, dismantled wind generators, electrical system backouts, fixed water and diesel tank leaks and various issues as explained in his voluntary safety call. He is happy if not a little tired himself, but for sure, he is a real MacGyver of the Seas when it comes to fixing things. He keeps things going, so let’s hope it continues!

Meanwhile, Michael Guggenberger (AUT) onboard NURI is just 400 miles from Cape Horn. His well prepared Biscay 36 is in the middle of storms with 60 kt winds and 8mtr seas. GGR has been providing regular weather updates, but there is nowhere for him to hide. He has prepared well for this blow, which is going for nearly three days, while the seas continue to build. Six hours before the peak of the storm was due to hit, he reported.

2310 UTC 21 FEB…All well on board! current wind a LOT!!!.. waves are super BIG.. main and mizzen lashed tight to the boom both on lee and low. Storm jib is pulling on the bow. Have about 40 to 50m rope with about 20 kg chain at the end holding the stern. Happy sailor! lots of water and a pos. All well for now! aye!! Michael G.

        Unlike Kirsten and Abhilash, the Southern Ocean is new territory for Michael. 10 years ago, when Abhilash rounded the rock for the first time and Kirsten started roaming these southern seas, the Austrian sailor had sailed a total of 7 days in salty waters! This is a testament to his preparation, his team lead by Stefan Weigel and his dedication to a lifetime GGR Dream.

Capt. Gugg has been lucky with generally acceptable weather and seas for virtually all the Southern Ocean to date, with no major storms. Other competitors ahead and behind have had to face heavy storms and devastating calms. He also managed to finally catch some desperately needed freshwater! 46 litres, to be precise, now carrying a total of 95 litres aboard. He still has all of the Atlantic to go, but the chance of rain may get better after the Southern Ocean. He hopes so! He is expected to round the ROCK on Saturday 25th, if all goes well!

The final climb back to Les Sables d’Olonne

Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF) continues to surge ahead. With 530 miles lead over Abhilash, the South African has now entered a zone she knows like the back of her hand, having worked in the region as a commercial skipper aboard Skip Novak’s Pelagic. She and Minnehaha made a quick detour past Port Stanley in the Falkland islands, her base for Antarctic expeditions, to say ‘Hi!’ to her many friends there on the way back to France. It was a huge boost and an emotional moment for her.

Will 530 miles be enough to keep her ahead of Abhilash who has proven to be a bit quicker upwind and in light conditions of the Atlantic? Both have now sailed 75% of the course and are left with the final stretch of sea back to where they started 170 days ago: Les Sables d’Olonne, France. It looks like an easy task. It is far from it.

You are still very much in the Southern Ocean after rounding the Cape. A huge storm with 75 kt gusts and big seas crossed just days ahead of Kirsten when she was leaving the Falklands. Both now have over 1000 miles of challenging sailing, first with unpredictable systems sweeping from the west and then Trades that could be forward or aft of the beam. Only then do they reach the Horse Latitudes at 30S. Here, there is little rain and the start of frustrating doldrums. Across the equator and it all comes hard on, forward of the beam, wet sailing for weeks before entering the North Atlantic at the end of the northern hemisphere’s winter. No small feat! On top of that, with 22.000 miles non-stop in their wake, the boats have suffered a lifetime of sailing hard. The race still has a long way to go!

Coastal cruising? Just frustrations!

Simon Curwen (GBR) HOWDENS had to make a 1000-mile detour to the north-west in Puerto Montt for repairs to his damaged wind vane. It cost him the lead and made him Chichester Class at that time. Getting back out and sailing south has proven to be no easy task.

Missing a weather window while exiting the scenic Chilean port from the east of Chiloé island, Simon sailed straight out into strong south-westerly headwinds and challenging seas, making no progress at all. He had to turn back. He requested GGR weather and navigation advice to seek shelter in a bay behind an island some 40 miles away. There, he sat waiting for better weather, before finally departing six days after originally setting out. Frustrating light to moderate headwinds continued for a few days. Then with building westerly then north-westerly winds, he was off. It was an eventful week, as he explained in his safety call. Later that night, he was in storm conditions with 40-55 knots north-westerly winds. Today, he has a window of some moderate winds and then, the next five days, no storms. That should get him around!

Life in the (not so red) zone.

For Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR) and Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF, Chichester Class) conditions are not quite the same this week. Progress has been slow with elusive winds and unstable weather. Strong headwinds have pushed both north, when all sailors try to stick as close as possible to the northern limit of the exclusion zone at 47°S, making the most of any westerly winds. Both are very aware that they need to get around Cape Horn as soon as possible. The number of low pressure systems now passing the area is increasing every week as summer passes in the southern hemisphere. Ian has over 3000 miles to go and Jeremy is only 450 miles ahead. ETA around MID MARCH!

“Cape Horn is completely on my mind. I’m quite anxious. My ETA will be right at the end of the season, almost at the equinox. I am concerned; every day I get headwinds or half a day of calm is another day that I’m not at the Horn, and I know I am at the very tail end of the season now. I know it can get serious very quickly down there; the biggest challenge is still ahead.” Ian Herbert-Jones Puffin.

DAY179: Kirsten and Abhilash fighting for Golden Globe lead and two new Cape Horners!

South African Kirsten Neuschafer and Indian Abhilash Tomy fighting for the lead leaving the Southern Ocean. Simon Curwen (GBR) Howdens and Michael Guggenberger (AUT) NURI are the world’s latest, round-the-world solo Cape Horners! Jeremy Bagshaw, 1200 miles from Cape Horn, getting cold, sailing fast but will the storms stay away? Upwind, no wind and Crotch rot! Tail ender Ian Herbert Jones needs all the British Humour he has left in him!

3 March

In August 2015 Michael Guggenbergger read a magazine announcing the 50th anniversary edition of the first ever 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. It would start from Les Sables d’Olonne in three years! He immediately sent his entry and his life began to change. He bought a boat, sold his house and focused on the challenge ahead. A few years later his dream met reality and it all fell apart. Beaten by time and money he kept pushing forward. Eight years later, following weeks of storms, and utter determination, Captain GUGG finally sailed solo around Cape Horn, at 0228hrsUTC 26th Feb.(eating NURI chilli sardines!) 175 days and 21000 miles after setting out from Les Sables d’olonne in France. His Biscay 36 NURI is in great shape and he is relieved, emotional and a little sad that it is all coming to an end. He has 7000 miles and nine weeks to sail to the finish and is now running in third place.

Simon Curwen (GBR) sailing HOWDENS another Biscay 36 had a dream to sail solo around the world. He had previously come 2nd in the Classe Mini Transat Race and faced many sailing challenges, including falling overboard while sailing solo in the English Channel. The British sailor led the GGR for 150 days thanks to his razor-sharp skills, and beautifully prepared yacht, but storm damage 1000 miles from the Horn required a stop for repairs and a change to the one stop Chichester Class. Now back at sea he is racing hard even though no longer in the rankings. The fun and challenge is still there and he sails for les Sables with racing spirit and passion. He rounded Cape Horn at 23:34hrs UTC on the 25th of Feb just hours ahead of Capt Gugg, in mild weather close enough at dawn for a picture and a VHF chat with the lighthouse Sergeant Jose Luarte who lives on the island with his family.

While it’s been tough getting to Cape Horn the twin Biscay 36 have had more frustrations continuing on toward the Falkland Islands with elusive winds, unstable in both force and direction, alternating nothingness of Squalls with violent fronts and lows. Both skippers are getting little sleep! Simon is slowly pulling away from NURI and enjoying the close racing.

Both newly crowned Cape Horners received congratulatory messages from Sir Robin Knox Johnston, winner of the first 1968 GGR and Chairman of the International Association of Cape Horners. Meanwhile, 1100 miles North of them, Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF) and Abhilash Tomy (IND) are fighting hard for the lead. Both have officially left the roaring 40s and are entering the Horse Latitudes, enjoying warmer conditions and lighter winds after months of cold and damp weather. There is no such thing as a dry sleeping bag down south!

Out of the South but not out of trouble!

It hasn’t been plain sailing for either of them. Early in the week Kirsten held a 400-mile lead over Abhilash, but was hit by a northerly front while sailing north. Pounding into 35 knots, gusting 50 head winds, she was forcing her to “Hove To” (rather than lose ground running south) for the first time since the race began, just as she thought the southern oceans were behind her! Abhilash 400 Miles South and West of her, had easier weather, keeping downwind conditions for longer and further reducing the Kirstens lead. He is still -however- plagued with more electrical problems as he shared in his safety call but at least he got another 30 litres of fresh water since Cape Horn making life a lot easier!

Kirsten has been stuck in a vast barometric swamp these past few days. Today there is no leader. Abhilash is 600 miles west of Uruguay and Kirsten 1200 miles west. They are side by side! Bayanat, in theory, is faster in light winds. With the change of winds, compressing the fleet, and the different positions on the Atlantic playground there will be a lot of options -albeit slow- to play with for both sailors. It might be warmer, but next week does not look like a holiday either! The race is now wide open and for the only woman sailor, the challenge is very real! For Abhilash Tomy, who crashed out badly in the 2018 GGR, the podium is supremely attractive, no matter what has gone before!

Pacific adventures at the back of the fleet

Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR), the last GGR sailor to be forced north of the Pacific exclusion zone is famous for his sense of humour and the candid way he faces the prospects of a late Cape Horn crossing. He will need a lot more of both this week as the weather conspires against him. For weeks now he had either upwind conditions lengthening his route to the exit of the zone, or dead calms that made him drift in the wrong direction! As a result, he still has 200 miles to the end of the exclusion zone.

He is now the closest GGR sailor to Point Nemo, the most isolator position on earth, closer to the ISS than the closest, desolated land. He and Jeremy both received an alert from MRCC Chile to expect falling space junk over a six-day period! To make things worth, his extended stay in the cold weather and hostile conditions are taking a toll. Not only is he rationing himself on canned water after his tanks were contaminated, he now has to deal with “crotch rot” and various skin issues due to humidity as he explained in his last call. With 2100 miles to Cape horn and another 1200 to the warmer weather, his sense of humour seems his best asset right now!

Meanwhile, Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) on Oleanna is having a great time out of the Exclusion Zone entering the screaming fifties territories bound for Cape Horn 1200 miles away. He reports wearing six layers of clothing on top and five layers below the waist with still 5 degrees of latitude to drop south! It is getting cold. He continues to ride typical Southern Ocean weather with solid winds and five metre seas but has missed all the big storms to date. The forecast for the next five days looks reasonable, so he has cold fingers and toes crossed. He has been posting excellent average speeds in a variety of conditions, including a 4,5 knot VMC towards the Cape. But it looks like a big one may be coming!