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Displaying items by tag: Golden Globe Race

France’s stellar senior sailor Jean-Luc van den Heede (73) is such an experienced long-distance racer that the last thing he’d welcome is a premature celebration of his expected victory in the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race tomorrow morning writes W M Nixon. But in Les Sables-d’Olonne, the tension and excitement of anticipation is building as he brings his retro Rustler 36 Matmut (the “Little Snail” as he calls her) gingerly into the final hundred miles to the finish, knowing both that his rig is suspect after a pitchpole and emergency repairs in the Southern Ocean, and that by tomorrow afternoon another series of ferocious gales will be sweeping into the Bay of Biscay.

During the past week his patience and skill has been sorely tried, as Matmut has been held back by calms – in one eminently forgettable 24 hour period, he did less than 50 miles – and then yesterday he and his little boat were battered by an exceptionally vicious if brief nor’west storm, which he had to run before in order to minimise stresses on mast and rigging.

But by noon today he had safely crossed the Continental shelf without the locally disturbed waters causing too much trouble, and in effect - particularly for someone who has traversed all the world’s oceans – he is now experiencing coastal sailing, with the northwest wind in theory giving him a beam reach. But the airflow is unstable in the extreme, and constant vigilance is essential if the show is going to be brought to a successful conclusion.

Despite the difficult and uneven sailing, van den Heede has managed to maintain a lead of more than 300 miles over second-placed Mark Slats of The Netherlands in another Rustler 36, after increasing the gap in some keen strategic sailing around the Azores. In terms of time, this lead may be increased by tomorrow's approaching storm, for when the intense low at the heart of it goes driving on through into central France, there’s a possibility that Slats may find himself struggling with headwinds in order to reach the finish.

But for now, all eyes are on the Little Snail and her gallant skipper. He started from Les Sables d’Olonne on July 1st with the rest of what was then a fleet, but is now a much-depleted flotilla. However, not all would have reckoned that the first boat would be within sight of the finish before the end of January. After all, fifty years ago, when Robin Knox-Johnston was pioneering the route in Suhaili, at this time stage he had still to round Cape Horn. Matmut may be light years ahead of Suhaili in terms of design development despite her retro pedigree, but there’s no escaping the fact that van den Heede is also a remarkable force in racing terms.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing
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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/

Published in Solo Sailing
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French race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede served out his 18-hour penalty (for improper use of his satellite phone on 09.11.2018) on Saturday and is now clear to race the remaining 2,150 miles to the finish at Les Sables d'Olonne. He expects to arrive there on 26th January.

But will he still be first?

While Jean-Luc was serving his 'time-out' in the penalty box south of the 20°N parallel, 2nd placed Dutchman Mark Slats was powering northwards through the SE Trades at more than 5 knots and by 08:00 UTC today, had closed the difference in 'distance to finish' to within 417 miles. Worse for Jean-Luc, the NE Trade winds have disappeared and he is likely to be facing the frustration of calms until Wednesday at least, while Slats continues to make strong gains.

The two skippers are racing identical Rustler 36 designs, but Matmut carries a smaller rig and mast damage, which Jean-Luc does not want to overpress. Ophen Maverick has the benefit of a larger sail plan, but after 25,000 miles, she beginning to show signs of wear which could lead to breakages. These final 2 weeks promise to provide a nerve-racking finale.

Third placed Estonian skipper Uku Randmaa and his Rustler 36 One and All, survived last week's South Atlantic storm unscathed, and now finds himself drifting in a hole, making only 1 knot on Sunday, so has used the time to dive overboard and give the hull another clean. The forecast suggests that the winds will not return until later today – and then from the north! His climb up towards the Equator will not any easier than it was for the two leaders but at least temperatures are warming by the day.

Surprisingly, Istvan Kopar, who rounded Cape Horn on December 1, has made most progress of all during the past 5 days, but now head winds have become his new reality and Puffin's VMG has dropped to 2.8knots today.

Also surprising is the 5.1knots recorded by Tapio Lehtinen's Finnish entry Asteria. She is covered in barnacle growth, which is sapping her speed at an ever-increasing rate. Last week, GGR HQ lifted the restriction of the NO-GO ZONE south of the 42°S Parallel in the South Pacific as a safety measure for Lehtinen to escape the worst of a Southern Ocean storm running up behind, and Tapio has been running before strong NE wind towards Cape Horn ever since.

Published in Solo Sailing
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What would Christmas be like without sailing? Such a state of deprivation just doesn’t bear thinking about writes W M Nixon. But thanks to the wonders of modern communication - which at other times can be too much of a good thing - your Irish sailor who finds Christmas is becoming over-powering can hide away and dial up the already busy entry list for next summer’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, or follow the racetrackers for the Golden Globe or the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, and there he or she is – gone…….

Marvellous. You don’t even need to go sailing to get sailing at Christmas. There’s the ongoing drama of the Golden Globe to take you away. In it, the wonderful senior sailor Jean-Luc van den Heede (who looks for all the world like Willie Nelson’s much healthier brother, and sails every bit as well as Brother Willie sings) is hanging onto his lead despite his rig being in shreds, and in recent days has even managed to hold his distance ahead of the very determined Dutchman Mark Slats.

jean luc van den heede2Separated at birth…..? Singer Willie Nelson and sailor Jean-Luc van den Heede 

willie nelson3

Slats doesn’t look like any iconic singer that we know of, but we’re open to suggestions, for our knowledge of the Dutch music scene is limited, and this is the season of goodwill. That said, we’re all rooting for Willie (sorry, for Jean-Luc), for the man has sailing talent and courage to spare.

For the rest of us, if the complete lower shroud mast fitting started cutting its way down through the alloy extrusion of the mast itself, then it would be a matter of getting to port pronto under power, putting professional riggers on the job, and maybe even getting m’learned friends to write a letter to the manufacturers.

But when it happened to Jean-Luc after a massive knockdown of his Rustler 36 Malmut, he was in the middle of nowhere, yet somehow this 73-year-old guy got himself up the mast in the midst of the very rolling ocean and did enough between the shroud tangs and the lower spreader sockets to stop the shrouds cutting any further south.

mark slats boat4Mark Slats’ Rustler 36 Maverick looking decidedly purposeful. Despite two knockdowns in the storm which dismasted Gregor McGuckin and Abilash Tomy, Maverick’s rig is still intact and he is remorselessly hunting down the damaged Golden Globe leader Malmut

It did mean that he could no longer drive his Rustler 36 Malmut as hard as he would have liked, as the mast at times has been giving a passable impression of a piece of spaghetti. So in going on round Cape Horn and such things, he was forced to be sailing with three reefs in when one or two would normally have been all that was required.

Thus an astonishing lead of well over a thousand miles on second-placed Slats has been steadily whittled away, but as of today (Friday) van den Heede is through the 3,900 mile barrier to the finish and 707 miles ahead of Slats. But with some very difficult conditions to be negotiated with this dodgy rig before he gets beck to Les Sables d’Olonne, his problems will be prodigious, for there’ll almost certainly be rugged windward work in the Northeast Trades, and the cobbled-together rig setup emphatically dislikes slugging to windward.

If he does get back under his own steam, there’ll be some party, and this item here from Facebook shows that Jean-Luc isn’t shy of giving it a bit of a lash with the old vocal cords himself. It may not be comparable with Willie Nelson giving his defining rendition of The City of New Orleans, but then we doubt if Willie could get up a mast and carry out the repair which has carried Malmut over thousands of miles.

Meanwhile, the Southern Ocean is now becoming quite cluttered with abandoned Golden Globe racers, and all of them mastless. Gregor McGuckin’s Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance is the most salvageable at the moment, as she has drifted to within 1,250 miles of Western Australia.

Although any salvor would have to think about a new rig in due course, at least there’s the bonus of the special Glendalough whiskey which - all being well - is still safe in its barrel down below decks, as the pre-race foredeck location at Dun Laoghaire, Falmouth and Les Sables was for display purposes only. Ultimately, the idea was to bottle it at race’s end as a collector’s item, with each bottle selling for ginormous amounts. It could happen yet.

glendalough whiskey5Attention all whiskey enthusiasts in Western Australia…..this unique barrel of Glendalough is stowed below aboard Hanley Energy Endurance only 1250 miles away from Perth. Photo: W M Nixon

IRISH INTEREST IN SYDNEY-HOBART

When we think of what the Glendalough barrel and the boats have been through since this Golden Jubilee Suhaili circumnavigation re-enactment began on July 1st, it does rather put the claims about the Rolex Sydney-Hobart being one of the most rugged in the world into perspective. But for sailors who aren’t superhuman, the 628-mile annual classic can be quite enough to be going along with – a view which is supported by the many Volvo Ocean Race veterans who will be on various boats of significance when the race to Hobart gets going on December 26th.

Among them is ex-Pat Gordon Maguire, very much an Australian sailor these days, but he cut his sailing teeth in Howth. He did his fair share and more of successful Volvo racing, but next Wednesday the number one item on the agenda is getting the best performance out of Matt Allen Botin 52 Ichi Ban, with which the Allen-Maguire team took the Tattersalls Cup – the overall IRC winner – in 2017’s race. If they manage it again this time round, it will only be the third time in the race’s history that it has been won back-to-back.

ichi ban6Matt Allen’s Botin 52 Ichi Ban, with Gordon Maguire on the strength for his 21st race to Hobart, is looking for another overall IRC win for the Tattersalls Cup in next week’s Rolex Sydney-Hobart race

ichi ban7A potent yet simple racing machine – tiller-steering enthusiasts see their dreams fulfilled aboard Ichi Ban

Inevitably much interest focuses on the half-dozen hundred footers, with the Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI increasingly fancied, as it doesn’t look as though there’ll always be enough wind around to get the best out of the big fat girls such as Jim Cooney’s Comanche and Christian Beck’s Infotrack.

There’s Irish interest in both of them, as Jim Cooney maintains family links with Ballivor in County Meath and Justin Slattery is in his crew, while Infotrack we knew well when she wasn’t quite looking her best – she was then called Rambler 100, and was more than somewhat inverted at the Fastnet Rock in August 2011.

P

infotrack racing8The boat of many identities. The JK100 Infotrack has had several different names over the years, and looks decidedly different these days in Australia (above) than when last seen in Irish waters near the Fastnet Rock in August 2011 (below)

rambler capsized9

Other Irish interest focuses on the attractive Sydney 47 Wot’s Next, as Brian O’Sullivan of Tralee (overall winner of the 2013 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and June 2013 Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month”) is in the crew. Wot’s Next is as Australian as the kangaroo - the Sydney 47 marque was designed by Murray Burns and Dovell in 2004, and they’re built in state-of-the-art style by Sydney Yachts, which was spun out of the late Ian Bashford’s raceboat building company. The word is the Sydney Yachts inheritors build just slightly more ruggedly than Bashford aimed for. He was so obsessed (and quite rightly so) with keeping weight out of the ends, that it’s said you could almost push your finger through the transoms of his all-conquering J/35s. Maybe so, but they did the business - they were winners every which way.

wots next10The attractive Sydney 47 Wot’s Next will have former Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race overall winner Brian O’Sullivan of Tralee in her crew for the Sydney-Hobart Race
sydney 47 accommodation11The accommodation style in the totally Australian Sydney 47 is very much ahead of the curve

ENTRIES ROLL IN FOR VDLR 2019

Christmas is a time for mixed feelings this year for the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, for this week they lost one of their founding fathers with the sad death of Owen McNally. Afloat.ie will carry an appreciation of Owen in the near future, and he of all people would have been delighted with the healthy uptake there has been in early entries for 2019’s staging of Ireland’s ultimate sailfest, whose dates are July 11th to 14th.

Already they’re pushing towards the hundred mark, with early entries in 22 of the 39 classes for which racing will be scheduled, and notably strong input from outside Dublin Bay.

You may recall that Half Ton Classics Champion Dave Cullen with Checkmate admitted - after he’d won the title in Belgium - that he always like to have things done well in time, so doubtless Checkmate has already been prepared for next season by Alan Power at Malahide. Meanwhile, she’s firmly on the list for Dun Laoghaire next July, as too are the two HYC-owned J/24s which - in a sign of the times - are to be campaigned by Under 18 crews.

In the depths of the economic recession, they were sailed by Under 25 crews, but in these boomtime days, it seems that any capable 24-year-old is expected to have secured his or her own boat by some means or other, but Under 18s deserve a helping hand.

Either way, getting the entry in early is not only efficient and evidence of good management, but it acts as a very positive signs for existing or potential crew, and it’s of interest to note that from the home fleet at Dun Laoghaire, those signed up include the Goodbody clan with their successful J/109 White Mischief, and the Dublin Bay 2018 First 31.7 champion Camira (Peter Beamish & Andrew Jones

camira racing12The Dublin Bay First 31.7 champion Camira (Peter Beamish & Andrew Jones) is already signed up for next summer’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Published in W M Nixon

The crew of Hong Kong registered cargo ship MV Tian Fu has successfully rescued the distressed British yachtswoman Susie Goodall 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn.

Susie sent the text: 07 Dec 15:14 UTC: ON THE SHIP!!! Position: 45' 10.711 S 121' 40.157 W

The ship is now bound for Modran, Argentina and expected to reach port on 22/23rd December.

After a tense 50 hour vigil, HM Coastguard received the welcome news that Susie Goodall, British Skipper of ‘DHL Starlight’ has been safely rescued by the MV ‘Tian Fu’ just before 3.30pm today (7 December).

The dramatic rescue operation unfolded just after 10.30am on Wednesday 5 December when HM Coastguard’s MCC (Mission Control Centre) in Fareham (Hampshire UK) picked up an EPIRB distress alert from Susie’s vessel ‘DHL Starlight’, some 2,200nm off the coast of Chile whilst competing in the Golden Globe Yacht Race.

Keeping in constant contact via sat phone communications Susie was able to inform Golden Globe Yacht Race HQ that the vessel “pitch polled” (rolled end over end) and was dismasted during severe weather of 7m seas and high winds.

MRCC Chile (the Chilean Coastguard) led the search and rescue operation and immediately called upon two nearby vessels to divert their course and go to Susie’s aid.

During the tense wait, Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre and the National Maritime Operations Centre in Fareham also kept a vigil over Susie’s situation and was in regular liaison with the Chilean authorities and Golden Globe Race HQ.

The MV ‘Tian Fu’ – a Hong Kong flagged vessel – reached Susie’s vessel at approx. 1.15pm (UTC) today (7 December) and Susie reported via Satphone text ‘ON THE SHIP!!!’ about 3.30pm. This news was confirmed by Golden Globe Race HQ and MRCC Chile a few minutes later.

She was reported to be in good spirits and uninjured, despite her ordeal.

The MV ‘Tian Fu’ is continuing its journey to Punta Arenas where Susie will disembark.

Ian Guy, Duty Controller for HM Coastguard said: “This was a very demanding long range rescue which was made even more complex because it was taking place 2,000nm off Cape Horn. During this period, Susie was at the mercy of 7m seas and severe weather and it’s a credit to her that she remained in good spirits during this tense wait. Whilst this was happening, HM Coastguard remained in continuous contact with MRCC Chile and Golden Globe Race HQ.

“In this weather and at this range, it was vital that we provided as much assistance as possible to the lead agency MRCC Chile, and we maintained a watchful eye over the situation for updates via satellite phone. Our priority is to protect life at sea and we will always do everything possible to provide assistance for a mariner in need. In the event we can't get there ourselves, we do our best to identify someone who can which is exactly what we did in this case. Only two vessels responded to the Mayday Relay broadcast that was issued - largely as a result of the remote area the incident was in - and in the end Susie was rescued by the MV 'Tian Fu' who had diverted its course to provide assistance. Although this must have been harrowing for Susie, this is a superb example of international co-operation and we would like to thank Golden Globe Race HQ, MRCC Chile, MV 'Tian Fu', MV 'Talimen', and all those who have played their part in bringing this rescue to a textbook and safe conclusion.”

Don McIntyre, Golden Globe Race Chairman and Race Founder said: “While that first phone call from HM Coastguard is always a bit of a shock, it is great to now look back at a very professional operation by an international team led by MRCC Chile and the Master and crew of the MV 'Tian Fu' ending with a successful outcome, Susie Goodall safely winched aboard ship. We will always be grateful for the efforts of all in this challenging situation.”

Published in Offshore
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British yachtswoman Susie Goodall remains safe and secure aboard her yacht DHL Starlight after being pitchpoled and dismasted in the Southern Ocean some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn yesterday.

Overnight, Chilean rescue authorities have tasked another ship, the 38,000 ton Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier MV Tian Fu bound from China to Modran, Argentina, to go to her aid and it is due to reach her position at 05:00 UTC Friday.

Conditions have moderated overnight but seas remain challenging, making life onboard very uncomfortable.

Susie remains in regular contact with Race HQ and will spend today preparing for evacuation tomorrow. The flooding is now under control, and today she will endeavour to coax DHL Starlight's engine to run again in case she is required to manoeuvre her yacht alongside the ship. She will also ensure that the yacht's liferaft is ready to deploy.

It will still be dark when the MV Tian Fu reaches the scene and the rescue operation is unlikely to commence before daylight. It will be for her Captain to decide the best method to transfer Goodall from yacht to ship. This could entail launching the ship's own man-overboard vessel, or lowering a cargo net or ladder over the side for her to climb up from the yacht or her liferaft.

Timeline of text messages received from Susie Goodall before and after being dismasted:

05 Dec 08:29 UTC: TAKING A HAMMERING! WONDERING WHAT ON EARTH I'M DOING OUT HERE Position: 45' 33.054 S 122' 37.061 W

05 Dec 12:33 UTC; DISMASTED.HULL OK. NO FORM OF JURY RIG, TOTAL LOSS Position: 45' 27.787 S 122' 23.537 W

05 Dec 12:57 UTC: INTERIOR TOTAL WRECK, LIFERAFT OK, Position: 45' 27.284 S 122' 22.985

05 Dec 13:23 UTC: NASTY HEAD BANG AS BOAT PITCHPOLED. UNBELIEVABLY ROLY NOW Position: 45' 26.735 S 122' 22.490 W

05 Dec 13:24 UTC: TOTALLY & UTTERLY GUTTED! Position: 45' 26.702 S 122' 22.460 W

05 Dec 23:04 UTC: THIS MOTION IS JUST HORRIBLE! CLINGING ON IN MY BUNK. Position: 45' 25.629 S 122' 13.763 W

06 Dec 02:51 UTC: IN NEED OF A GOOD CUPPA TEA! BUT SADLY NO COOKER Position: 45' 24.506 S 122' 05.482 W

Published in Offshore

British yachtswoman Susie Goodall was pitchpoled and dismasted in the Southern Ocean some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn today. A distress signal was first picked up from her yacht by Falmouth Coastguard at 11:00 UTC, who then alerted Race Control and the Chilean Maritime Search and Rescue authorities responsible for this sector of the South Pacific.

Goodall, (29) from Falmouth UK, and the youngest competitor in the Golden Globe Race, was lying in 4th place at the time, riding out a ferocious storm with 60-knot winds and massive seas aboard her Rustler 36 yacht DHL Starlight. 

Susie Goodall's position 2,000 miles West of Cape Horn when the storm struck, and those of her nearest rivals in this solo non-stop round the world race.

In her last text message to Race Control received before the dismastig at 08:29 UTC,, she reported' TAKING A HAMMERING! WONDERING WHAT ON EARTH I'M DOING OUT HERE

In a subsequent message, received at 12:23 UTC, she wrote: DISMASTED. HULL OK. NO FORM OF JURY RIG, TOTAL LOSS Position: 45' 27.787 S 122' 23.537 W.

After 3 attempts, Race HQ was able to raise Goodall on her emergency satellite phone when she confirmed: "I have been dismasted. Thought I had holed the hull because the boat filled with water, but the hull is NOT holed. The hull is OK.

The boat is destroyed. I can't make up a jury rig. The only thing left is the hull and deck which remain intact.

We were pitchpoled [rolled end over end] and I was thrown across the cabin and knocked out for a while. "

Speaking with emotion, but sounding very much in control of her situation, Susie also confirmed that she had secured all hatches, portholes and safety equipment, and did NOT need immediate assistance. She said that before the incident, she had been enjoying the conditions and felt in control. But then the safety tube on her Monitor self-steering broke and she was forced to trail a drogue anchor astern and take down the mainsail. She was below decks when the boat was pitchpoled, and when she returned on deck to assess the damage, found that the line attached to the drogue had parted.

Susie also reported that she 'has been beaten up and badly bruised' with cuts and scratches and a big bump on her head. MSOS, the GGR's 24 hour medical telecentre has been advised and doctors are now monitoring her symptons and providing direct medical advice

The winds have since dropped down to 45 knots and conditions are likely to improve further as the storm continues to head East.

The nearest GGR competitor is Estonion Uku Randmaa 400 miles ahead of Goodall and about to face the same storm conditions, so it is impractical for him to turn about. It is far safer for American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar, 780 miles to the west to continue his downwind course and intercept DHL Starlight. The GGR fleet have now been alerted to Susie's situation and Kopar expects to reach her position in six days time.

Subsequently, the Chilean Authorities have contacted a ship 480 miles SW of Goodall's position and requested assistance. Her Captain expects to take 2 days to reach the area.

Race Chairman Don McIntyre said today: "We are monitoring the situation carefully, speaking to Susie every hour and working with the Chilean Search and rescue authorities on the best course of action to take. We have also informed her family and are keeping them informed"

Published in Offshore
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On Nov.6th at 0200hrs French solo yachtsman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the current Golden Globe Race leader, rang GGR organisers to advise that his yacht Matmut had sustained mast damage, that all was OK, and that he intended to sail for Chile when conditions improved. Race Officials advised this would mean moving to the Chichester Class on arrival. J-L VDH said he would make a decision on his final intention in the weeks ahead, after making his landing and repair.

Subsequently, GGR organisers became aware that J-L VDH may have made a call on the GGR satellite phone. At 1035hrs Nov. 6th GGR made contact with his team manager to clarify that J-L VDH should not make any Satphone calls and should only use his radio for advice about his mast. If calls had been made on the Satphone he would be moved to the Chichester class and could apply for a time penalty, but only as long as no material assistance or advice was given during these phone calls, and only if no further calls were made.

At 1900hrs on Nov. 8th, GGR received a call from J-L VDH advising that he had changed his mind and now intended to continue in the Race and not head to Chile, and confirmed that he had rung his wife in the hours after the mast problem. GGR advised that he would be moved to the Chichester Class. J-L VDH requested that he be considered for a time penalty instead of being relegated to the Chichester Class for his Satphone use, since no support was provided by the phone use and his HAM radio comms were good and providing all advice and assistance.

Findings
It is confirmed that J-L VDH did use his Satphone in the first hours after the mast damage. This action breeched NOR 3.1.4 Telephone Contact. It is confirmed that no material assistance was provided by the use of the phone and no further phone use was made during subsequent days.

Penalty
In the spirit of the Golden Globe Race and noting the fact that J-L VDH received no material assistance through the use of his GGR Satphone, GGR Organisers have applied an 18-hour time penalty to J-L VDH to be served in the GGR Penalty Box according to Don McIntyre of the Golden Globe Race.

Published in Solo Sailing
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At 1500hrs UTC 5th NOV. Golden Globe Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede called GGR Founder Don McIntyre to advise that his Rustler 36 Matmut had been knocked down badly to about 150° which had damaged the connecting bolt attachment to the mast that holds all four lower shrouds. The mast was not in danger of falling, but it was not securely tensioned. The bolt has slipped 5cm down in the mast section and slackened the rigging.. He is still in the storm with 11 metre seas and 65knot winds. Conditions are expected to moderate in the next few hours.

The 73-year old race Frenchman from Les Sables d'Olonne is now running downwind with no sails until conditions improve. He will then effect a repair that will allow him to hoist sail again and make for Valparaiso, Chile where he will make a permanent repair.

Jean Luc was not injured during the knock-down, has requested NO ASSISTANCE at this time and is confident he can make Valparaiso safely. This will mean that he will move to the Chichester Class once he makes that port to effect repairs.

This is NOT a CODE ORANGE situation for GGR and Jean-Luc is well in control of the situation. GGR will monitor his progress to port.

Kopar blamed a lack of preparation for his poor start to the race. “I dropped to last place before I could work out how to fix my self-steering, and had never put my spinnaker up before the start – that first time was scary!”

“My main goal is to save the rig, save the boat and to arrive back at the finish. Right now, I feel closer to Joshua Slocum’s achievement (first to sail solo around the world in 1895-1898) than Robin Knox-Johnston’s (first to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation and win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968/69). I can’t even get a time signal – It’s not good. Everything is guesswork.”

Kopar’s ‘bad luck’ started with getting to grips with an unfamiliar wind vane self steering system at the start and extends to a rogue wave that washed out much his electronics and books, and flooded the main cabin with 300 litres of water. The last straw was a bird that attempted to land on his masthead wind vane, bending one of the arms into his VHF radio antennae and interrupt the signal.

He didn’t check his fresh water tank before the start and says now. “In Ghana they have cleaner water than I do.” He also added that the inside of his mould-ridden boat “is not healthy – not good at all.”

Could these situations be affecting his hands? “My nails are separating from the flesh. Cuts don’t bother me, but I’m scared about the state of my nails. They are black. I don’t know if it is caused by a fungal infection, the drinking water or the fungus inside the boat.”

He bemoans chasing cross the Atlantic to get to the start on time, rather than focusing on getting to know his boat. But still smiling, he added more positively. “Now I am on catch-up and would like to catch up with Susie Goodall in 4th place – I gave my word to her mother before the start that I would look after her!” He joked.

There is certainly a race now, not for 4th, but to capture a podium position at the finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne. Kopar, Goodall and even 6th placed Tapio Lehtinen, due to reach Hobart tomorrow (Tuesday) all have eyes on Estonian Uku Randmaa and his struggle to maintain pace with his barnacle encrusted yacht One and All.

4,000 miles ahead of this group, Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is currently facing what my become one of his biggest tests so far. In a 2-minute conversation with Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne today he spoke about 65knot winds and 11 metre seas. But at least he is now within 1,900 miles of Cape Horn, which the Frenchman expects to round on November 21st.

Contrast this with the performance of last placed runners Australian Mark Sinclair and Russian Igor Zaretskiy, now a whole ocean apart from Jean-Luc’s Rustler 36 Matmut. Zaretskiy, who has had his problems fixing a broken forestay and suffering hand sores, has chalked up an average VMG of just 2.1knots over the past two months.

Sinclair is clearly getting much more enjoyment from his solitude, but still, his average VMG over the same period is only 2.3knots. Last week he took time out to track down and photograph Gregor McGuckin’s abandoned yacht Hanley Energy Endurance. “Still afloat and emitting an AIS signal” he reported to Race HQ. Sinclair expects to reach the Boatshed.com Hobart film gate on Saturday December 8. By then both Van Den Heede and second placed Dutchman Mark Slats (Ohpen Maverick) are likely to have rounded Cape Horn and heading north up the Atlantic.

Published in Solo Sailing
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French solo yachtsman Loïc Lepage was successfully transferred from his dismasted yacht Laaland by the Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai at 00:53 UTC Monday.

The rescue, which took place in the South Indian Ocean some 670 miles SW of Perth Western Australia, commenced shortly after first light once the Australian P-8A search and rescue plane was overhead. Members of the Shiosai crew were lowered down in the ship’s recovery vessel, and though the rolling swell presented a few challenges, Lepage was plucked from his yacht and successfully transferred to the ship.

Francis Tolan, skipper of the S/V Alizes II, a Beneteau Ocean 43 competing in the Long Route solo circumnavigation who also came to the aid of Lepage, was released from search and rescue tasking and sincerely thanked by both the Golden Globe Race Organisers and the Australian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra, which oversaw the operation.

In a message to Alizes II, JRCC said: “Your efforts and endeavours to provide a fellow mariner with requested assistance in challenging conditions are in keeping with the greatest traditions of a mariner at sea. Well done and thank you.”

Don McIntyre, Chairman of the GGR, added: “Everyone at the Golden Globe Race have complete admiration and the utmost respect for all involved with the successful rescue of Loïc. The professionalism, expertise and passion displayed at all levels is truly amazing. You are all a great asset to Australia and mariners everywhere.”

The 176,827 Ton Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai has now resumed her course with Loïc Lepage aboard, bound for Las Palmas, Argentina and is scheduled to dock there on 22nd November.

The tracking signal for Lepage's yacht Laaland ceased at 06:30 UTC today and is assumed to have been scuttled.

Lepage was sailing the Chichester Class within the GGR, having stopped in Cape Town to make repairs and replenish supplies. 8 of the original 18 starters remain in the GGR solo non-stop challenge.

Published in Solo Sailing
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