Golden Globe: Fighting for the podium

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(February 4, 2019; Day 219) – As Golden Globe Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) and runner-up Mark Slats (NED) struggle to come to terms with life ashore, a race is developing for the final podium position between Estonian Uku Randmaa and the US/Hungarian Istvan Kopar.

While Randmaa and his Rustler 36 One and All was struggling to cross the Equator today, having managed to cover just 111 miles during the past four days, Kopar has been enjoying strong trade wind sailing to close the gap by 398 miles during the same period (as of 12:00 UTC).

Stuck in the Doldrums, Randmaa managed to make just 4 miles yesterday, having been stuck in calms for much of last week with the frustration came through with his latest text message: NO, WIND. SH…!

In contrast Kopar’s Tradewind 36 Puffin has been hitting 6 knots, reaching across the southeast trades and eating into Randmaa’s lead. Even better for him, the latest forecast suggests that the SE and NE trades will close together in the next few days to negate the Doldrums all together, placing both skippers in the same weather pattern.

Then, just like Van Den Heede and his rival Slats, it will be a case of who makes the first mistake over the final 3,000 miles to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

Back in August, when Kopar was struggling with a troublesome windvane self steering system in last place, and later losing all radio communication, who would have put money on the American challenging for a podium finish now? This is adventure at its best. The only thing one can expect is the unexpected!

Randmaa has another problem to contend with – a lack of food. The Estonian reported today that he is down to his last 29 bags of freeze-dried food and a similar number of cup-a-soups. The GGR tracking is currently suggesting a March 7 finish, so unless he can start catching fish he is now down to a daily intake of 500 calories – a quarter of what he should be consuming.

For the moment, the fishing is not going too well. Race HQ has received a succession of text messages saying that a fish took his lure. He lost his last one on January 23rd. Back in Les Sables d’Olonne, Van Den Heede has tipped the scales 11kg lighter than when he set out, and Slats had shed 18kg. How much will Randmaa lose?

Meanwhile, Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen is within 200 miles of Cape Horn and looking to round in two days. His Gaia 36 Asteria is covered in barnacles, which have cut her speed in half. This has now cost him the lead in his virtual race against Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s passage around the globe 50 years ago.

Suhaili was abreast of the Horn two days ago, which puts her 4 days ahead in virtual terms. Today, the GGR Tracker is predicting a May 7 finish for Lehtinen, but the Finn is enjoying every moment of his extended adventure. This is his second voyage through the Southern Ocean and he has been in constant wonder at the dramatic seascapes and wildlife. Last week he messaged: SOUTHERN OCEAN – SAME PLANET – ANOTHER WORLD – LEAVING WITH MIXED FEELINGS!

Back at the finish, both Van Den Heede and Slats are struggling with the transition between their solo sailing world and reality ashore. The French skipper was comparing notes with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the first Golden Globe Race in 1968/9, for both struggled to walk any distance after stepping ashore, though Van Den Heede (73) seemingly had little problem performing on stage with his rock band well into the early hours, while celebrating his win at a party held in his honour on the day he finished.

Sleep has also been a problem. Slats is finding it difficult to stay asleep for more than 90 minutes without getting the urge to get up and check the sails. Van Den Heede, who lives in Les Sables d’Olonne, says that the only way he can overcome this is to go back to the boat where he sleeps soundly.

As part of their efforts to help save the planet, both skippers saved all their rubbish onboard. Today, this was weighed and compared with the food and other disposables taken onboard at the start. Van Den Heede brought ashore 14 bags weighing 93kg and Slats had 15 bags weighing 113kg

Relative positions of Lehtinen and Knox-Johnston in their virtual race around the Globe. This show’s Suhaili’s position on 2nd February and Asteria at 12:00 UTC today.

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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