Golden Globe: Duel in the North Atlantic

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(January 13, 2019; Day 197) – The race for the lead of the Golden Globe Race is getting interesting as Mark Slats (NED) narrows the lead that Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) has held since the fleet was descending the South Atlantic. With Van Den Heede now alongside the Canary Islands enroute to the France finish line, his lead is 197 nm with 1764 nm to go (as of 16:00).

Stats continues to push hard to windward in light winds with speeds dropping to 4.8 knots still in the right direction. Conditions will soften over the next 24 hours and the direction could swing NW that will allowing him to continue North a little easier. The small Low pressure system to the North for now is dominating the wind direction and may favor Slats more than Van Den Heed who has stronger wind, but the direction is not helping him as it is right from where he needs to go.

In 36 hours the Low pressure system dissolves into a constant light NE wind flow for both skippers so their overall relative position may not change too much before then. While they both must push North for now, there is a traditional Azores High forming ahead of them in the future with no wind in the middle that will block their path.

From there, the race will be to get across to the NW and meet the favorable SW winds that will push then across the top of the Azores and into the final run towards the finish at Les Sables, France.

NOTE: Jean-Luc Van Den Heede absorbed an 18-hour time penalty as a result of his actions when he sustained mast damage during a storm 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn. His mast remains structurally unsound which may impact his performance for the remaining miles.

Background:
The 2018 Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the inaugural solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.

The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.

A notable twist to the 2018 Golden Globe Race format is how entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.

The rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.

Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.

Source: GGR / sailingscuttlebutt

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