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Golden Globe Endgame is Masterclass by Veteran Van Den Heede

23rd January 2019
Even with a damaged rig, Jean-Luc van den Heede’s Rustler 36 Malmut (aka “Little Snail”) now has a lead of more than 300 miles with just 700 miles to go to the finish of the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race. Even with a damaged rig, Jean-Luc van den Heede’s Rustler 36 Malmut (aka “Little Snail”) now has a lead of more than 300 miles with just 700 miles to go to the finish of the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race.

Veteran French skipper Jean-Luc van den Heede (73) has been giving a strategic sailing masterclass in the final 1500 miles of the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race writes W M Nixon. A week ago, after enduring flukey and unfavourable conditions all the way northward from the Equator, his distance from the finish was barely 50 miles less than that of second-placed Mark Slats, although the two boats out in mid-ocean were never within two hundred miles of each other.

This was because van den Heede was making every effort to get himself northwest towards the slowly approaching more favourable winds. In the end he made so much westing that he passed through the western passage of the Azores, and soon found himself making excellent speeds in the right direction well north of the islands, despite his boat’s damaged rig.

Meanwhile, it was Slats who was now drawing the short straw in terms of the developing wind situation. His position well to the southeast meant he was on the wrong side of the new weather setup which was favouring van den Heede, and in the end he passed the Azores to the eastward, hard on the wind.

Van den Heede is only 700 miles from the finish, right on line for Les Sables d’Olonne in the Bay of Biscay on port tack in northwest to north winds, and making 6.8 knots in his “Little Snail”, as he has nick-named his Rustler 36 Malmut.

But Slats in his sister-ship is close northeast of the Azores, hard on the wind at only 5 knots on starboard tack, and all of 1020 miles from the finish. It’s looking good for van den Heede. Yet we mustn’t forget that he’s racing with that roughly-repaired rig, even if - despite it - he was making 7.9 knots in the right direction north of the Azores.

Race tracker here: https://goldengloberace.com/livetracker/

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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About the Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is the original round the world yacht race. In 1968, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. Off shore yacht racing changed forever with adventurers and sailors, inspired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, following in his pioneering wake. Nine men started the first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. History was made. Navigating with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world. In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly caught the attention of the worlds media as well as adventures, captivated by the spirit and opportunity. The original race is back.

The Golden Globe Race: Stepping back to the golden age of solo sailing

Like the original Sunday Times event back in 1968/9, the 2018 Golden Globe Race was very simple. Depart Les Sables d'Olonne, France on July 1st 2018 and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to Les Sables d'Olonne. Entrants are limited to use the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin Knox-Johnston in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 and having a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts will be heavily built, strong and steady, similar in concept to Robin's 32ft vessel Suhaili.

In contrast to the current professional world of elite ocean racing, this edition travels back to a time known as the 'Golden Age' of solo sailing. Suhaili was a slow and steady 32ft double-ended ketch based on a William Atkins ERIC design. She is heavily built of teak and carried no computers, GPS, satellite phone nor water-maker, and Robin completed the challenge without the aid of modern-day shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer.

This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. Competitors in this race will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for 'those who dare', just as it was for Knox-Johnston.

They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand-write their logs and determine the weather for themselves.

Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high frequency and ham radios allow.

It is now possible to race a monohull solo around the world in under 80 days, but sailors entered in this race will spend around 300 days at sea, challenging themselves and each other. The 2018 Golden Globe Race was a fitting tribute to the first edition and it's winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Background on Don McIntyre (61) Race Founder

Don is an inveterate sailor and recognised as one of Australia s greatest explorers. Passionate about all forms of adventure and inspiring others, his desire is to recreate the Golden Age of solo sailing. Don finished 2nd in class in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht race. In 2010, he led the 4-man Talisker Bounty Boat challenge to re-enact the Mutiny on the Bounty voyage from Tonga to West Timor, in a simil

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