The last competitor still at sea of the eighteen yachts which started the Golden Globe Race last July is not expected to finish back in France until the middle of May. Finnish sailor Tapio Lehtinen is in fifth place in the South Atlantic and has reported to Race Control that the hull of his Gaia 36, Asteria, is covered in barnacles, making progress very slow at an average of 50 nautical miles a day.
That means that the result of an investigation into the race, being carried out by the man who won the first Golden Globe, back in 1968/69, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, will not be made public until then.
That investigation began after mounting criticism of the solo race which forced its founder, Don McIntyre, to defend it after several Skippers had to be rescued. Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin was amongst those who were rescued.
“Sir Robin is undertaking a comprehensive investigation into all issues surrounding the storm tactics of GGR entrants, rig designs and the events that have led to dismasting's and three rescues in the Race,” said McIntyre, writing on the Race website. “This very thorough report is widely anticipated and will be released at the conclusion of the race.”
He added that he was “surprised at the outcome of some of these storms and dismastings that have resulted” but defended the race as “very responsible” an “incredible challenge” which should continue and that “no one should ever kill off the human spirit of adventure…”
Response to McIntyre’s defence of the solo race has varied from supporters to critics and indicated mixed views from within and outside sailing. Questions have been raised, however, about the race, including allegations that it is irresponsible, adds nothing to sailing, puts rescuers under pressure and that the consequences of what happened this year will be far-reaching.
Sir Robin Knox Johnston’s investigation report will be eagerly awaited.
• More about this in Tom MacSweeney’s Podcast. Listen here.