News on Saturday September 24, 2022
Another sailor is out of the race!
The first time we saw the sailors after their start on Sept 4 was in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands when the first film drop began. Rules state that “Each sailor must approach the Lanzarote film drop buoy 300 metres south of Rubicon Marina with a reefed mainsail. When abeam they drop all headsails and sail slowly for 20 minutes passing over films and letters before hoisting full sail to continue the race.”
Read more about the current race, its history, the route, the sailors, their boats and a whole lot more here. It will make sense of the Golden Globe news and updates that follows here.
The irrepressible Australian, Mark Sinclair, has cited family reasons for his retirement. He had started slowly due to strong south westerly headwinds in the Bay of Biscay. His original plan had been to get to Cape Town in time for his son’s wedding. But he was too slow and running a week behind, he decided to quit. There were other reasons too; he hadn’t seen his family for nearly a year (he had to sail from Australia to France for the start of the Golden Globe race, and he did cite some health reasons as well. He was strapping up his knee quite strongly at the start. Maybe something to do with that?
It was clearly a painful experience. As Mark Sinclair said: ‘Biscay was a tough exit – I screwed it up last time and I screwed it up this time,’
Today the last sailor reached Lanzarote to drop off film and speak to Don McIntyre and the film crew videoing his arrival.
Don told the popular Frenchman, Arnaud Gaist (who is from Les Sables d’Olonne) the order of the front-runners, Simon Curwen, Tapio Lehtinen, Pat Lawless and more. He was quite happy until Don said that Simon Curwen was 700 miles ahead of him, then his face dropped a little.
First sailors checking in
First at Lanzarote was Simon Curwen in the early hours of Saturday morning, closely followed an hour later by Tapio Lehtinen. Then Pat Lawless appeared and was filmed showing his swollen knee. It’s infected and he’s on antibiotics but he didn’t wait to be given more. As he tweeted: “Delighted To Have The Lanzarote Drop Over and Done. Great tm Here I Am in 3rd place. When Its Safe I Will Keep Pushing Green Rebel.”
Abhilash Tomy was next checking in at Lanzarote.
The second race casualty
Guy deBoer approached the buoy, did his drop off then turned away to get back to the race. The next thing everyone heard was that at 0545hrs local time Sunday Sept 18, Guy de Boer and Spirit, his Tashiba 36, hits rocks 50 meters off the beach on the north coast of Fuerteventura.
Race control had been alerted at 0410 hrs local time by Kersten Neuschafer who called by sat phone to report a Mayday VHF call. Guy de Boer was on the rocks and taking water. The Spanish Rescue Coordinator centre was notified. At 0424 hrs Guy reported the boat listing 45 degrees but was worried about abandoning the boat in the dark and with heavy surf. He said he wouldn’t last long in the waters. At 0510 hours the local police and fire brigade were on the nearby beach with Guy 50metres away. Again he refused to abandon ship. Finally he made the beach at 0536 hrs after the local rescue coast guard had come out through the surf to him in the broken boat.
As we thought, exhausted by the last 13 days and past Lanzarote, Guy had fallen asleep. His boat was caught by a wind change and crashed into rocks.
The start of the Golden Globe Race 2022
The heroic Golden Globe race began on September 4, 2022 from Les Sables d’Olonne. The sailors face 8 months of isolation. They are sailing across five oceans non-stop, solo and without any of the modern aids – like GPS, or mobiles. They sail in small fibre-glass boats, guided by the stars and navigating with sextants.
It’s 1968 all over again. That inaugural race was won by Robin Knox-Johnston who is Patron of the 2022 race and was there to start this year’s challenge.
News about the first 9 days of the Golden Globe
It’s been an eventful start. The weather has been bad, with strong winds and big waves slowing the boats in the Bay of Biscay.
One of the favourites to win, Frenchman Damien Guillou, had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to fix his wind vane mount, but re-started within the time allowed – up to one week from the Sep 4 start. He’s last but it’s a long race so anything might happen. He’s going fast and is probably managing minimal amounts of sleep.
Canadian Edward Walentynowicz has retired, citing personal reasons.
American Guy de Boer was seasick and gashed his leg.
Ertan Beskardes from the UK fell into his cockpit when he was hit by a wave on deck, hurt his arm and suffered concussion. He sent a message: “all good on board, just slow progress, weather good, food super”.
Pat Lawless is having problems with a knee injury but it’s not stopping him at all.
The send off
We saw them off, along with other journalists, on Sunday Sep 4. The previous day and all that morning there were frantic, or seemingly low key, preparations for this great race. Tapio Lehtinen’s team were stitching a sail repair on an old sewing machine beside the boat. The morning of the departure, the Finn was more preoccupied with his small grandson, showing him the alarm clock he will use.
Pat Lawless was seen off by a huge Irish contingent who, along with complete strangers, were scrawling good luck notes on his sail. A young Irish piper played a moving Irish ballad, and there wasn’t a dry eye among the onlookers.
And the irrepressible Australian, Mark Sinclair, a broad grin on his face, shouted out as he left “Do I owe anyone any money?”
They set off around 2pm in a pre-arranged order, starting with Tapio Lehtinen. Well why not? Finns are always on time, and usually early.
Small boats with coloured sails, large yachts, official boats and press boats followed them out to sea. They tacked back and forth, coming close enough to talk to the onlookers on their boats.
Then there was a warning signal followed by the signal to start the race and they were off.
Why sail this race?
I had asked Are Wiig, the Norwegian skipper who sold his boat Olleanna to Jeremy Bagshaw, what it was like to leave. “Behind you are months of preparation and you look back at all those boats filled with friends and family. Then you look to the direction you’re going in…and just see the sea and the sky stretching out in front of you. You forget all that in those first hours as you test the boat, and to some extent yourself.”
Pat Lawless, who had been a cabinet maker then a deep sea fisherman before taking up ocean racing said: “I have tried and tried to figure out (why I am doing the race), but I can’t come up with a logical answer. It’s just a need I have to fulfil; it is a beautiful need, more romantic than dramatic.”
Each has their own reason, their own dreams to fill and perhaps their own demons to overcome.
Follow the race
You can follow the Golden Globe race news on the real time live tracker on the official Golden Globe Race website.
You can also follow each sailor on their once-a-day tweet which they send to the main race organisers who then send it to each sailor’s onshore team. It’s a concession to the 21st century but it doesn’t break the rules. No interaction is allowed and nobody states their position at sea.
These tweets give a wonderful snapshot of what each sailor is experiencing.
At 10.04am on Tuesday Sep 13, Jeremy Bagshaw tweeted: “Well that was intense. Wind went thru 270 degrees & 20 knots in 15 mins! Now baro up from 995 to 1001, fetching S into big messy sea.”
12.11am from Guy Waites: “Sagarmatha” rain squalls and weather fronts all finished off with a favourable wind shift. rolling along down the latitudes!”
Four Rendezvous Gates
There are four Rendezvous Gates where the sailors pass over film and letters and can be interviewed in passing (they don’t stop) by specific journalists.
Fascination with the Golden Globe Race
I have found myself caught up in the race in many ways, via the tweets and the live tracker. My partner (who was also at the start) and I have picked our particular favourites. You might have guessed mine: it’s the Finn, Tapio Lehtinen. And despite taking a slightly eccentric course at the beginning to try and outsail the worst of the weather (was he going back to Helsinki?), is currently second behind Brit Simon Curwen.
My partner is opting for Pat Lawless, particularly after he photographed Pat’s (very) small wood burning stove in the cabin.
Follow the race and you’ll find yourself picking out a particular sailor to champion.
If you want to know more about the technical aspects of the race (in an easily digestible read), then click on Alastair McKenzie’s Mech Traveller piece – Golden Globe Race 2022 – Sailing ‘Old School’.
More about Les Sables d’Olonne
More about Vendée Tourism
More about the fabulous French Atlantic Coast
If you’re interested in sailing, then check out the other solo, round-the-world super race that sets off from Les Sables d’Olonne every four years. The Vendée Globe Race 2020 was spectacular.
Declaration: I travelled to Les Sables d’Olonne courtesy of DFDS from Newhaven to Dieppe. I was on a self-drive trip and was hosted by Vendée Tourisme and Les Sables d’Olonne Tourisme.