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Day 227 – The Race for 3rd continues

Day 227 – The Race for 3rd continues

Uku Randmaa overcomes rigging failure and sliced finger, but sees lead over Istvan Kopar shrink
Kopar struggling with emergency steering and health issues
Tapio Lehtinen makes most ground after rounding Cape Horn but now faces a fishing blockade and calms

Dateline: 14:00 UTC – 13/02/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne. France

here has been good and bad news from 3rd placed Uku Randmaa and his Rustler 36 One and All. Now within 2,500 miles of the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line, the Estonian skipper has solved his immediate hunger problems by catching two large marlin during the past week, which should extend his meagre supplies of basic freeze dried food to the end of the race.

Not so good, was news that one of his running backstays supporting the mast broke on February 9, which lost him vital miles over 4th placed Istvan Kopar who is now enjoying the same Tradewind conditions 433 miles astern in terms of distance to finish. As One and All’s course meandered around on the tracker, Randmaa was forced to climb the mast twice to set up a replacement adjustable stay, and in doing so, gashed a finger badly. The deep cut has been festering since, which led him to seek medical advice from the GGR 24hr tele-medicine team at MSOS last weekend. He is now treating the wound daily and doctors are monitoring the situation.

Kopar, who is looking to take advantage of any situation to overtake Randmaa, is also fighting health issues. The American/Australian is suffering a recurring abscess under one tooth and a fungal infection under his nails. He too has called on the MSOS doctors for advice and is now taking a course of antibiotics to combat the toothache and applying antiseptic cream to his digits.

“I could not ventilate the boat in the Southern Ocean and the interior is now covered in black mould.” He reported on Monday, adding: “The black stuff is everywhere: on the plywood, sail bags, just everywhere. It is becoming a serious health issue, which could weaken my resistance to infections. I am washing everything down with bleach, but so far this doesn’t seem to be having much affect.”

Other issues onboard Kopar’s Tradewind 35 Puffin continue to centre on steering. The cogs within the gearbox linking rudder and wheel pedestal, are disintegrating and ‘jump’ whenever there is any load on them, so he has ‘retired’ the system and made up a new emergency tiller from scrap materials to replace the one that broke several months ago. He has since managed to harness this to Puffin’s wind vane self-steering. “I’m very proud of the new tiller. I had to machine a new key from a piece of rigging, which I filed down by hand to make a perfect fit. The tiller is very long, so the big challenge now is getting around the cockpit because it gets in the way of everything. I’m keeping my safety line strapped on, because it is not easy – So much so that I’m thinking of taking up Yoga classes!” he joked, adding: “The big question is whether the tiller will last for the rest of the race. There is a wooden connecting piece which could break under load and I have no more epoxy resin.”

But he has come up with a novel solution for one problem – stopping water running down the rudder stock into the boat. “I’ve cut up my hot water bottle to act as a seal which has stopped the water dripping down.” He reports.

Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen, running in 5th place aboard his Gaia 36 Asteria, rounded Cape Horn on February 6, and has made most ground during the past 9 days despite the barnacle infestation on his hull. He will need to keep his wits about him during the days ahead, first because of a huge fishing fleet – perhaps 150 trawlers – working the banks 100 miles east of Puerto Deseado, Argentina, directly ahead of Asteria’s, course. The second issue are calms forecast to descend on this region tomorrow, which will slow his progress north. That’s a worry because in the virtual race between Tapio and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s progress in Suhaili 50 years before, the 1968/9 winner is calculated to be 300 miles ahead when you compare Suhaili’s last confirmed position on February 9 with Asteria’s plot today.

Plans for the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

GGR organisers are in discussions with Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomeration to host the start and finish of the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The French port, which also hosts the Vendée Globe Race, has become a global centre for solo yacht racing and is keen to repeat the commercial adventure again in three years time. Yannick Moreau, the Mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne said this week:

“The arrival of the Golden Globe Race has shown once again just how much maritime culture is entwined within the genes of the Les Sables region. The massive public welcome Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats received at the finish will now remain in the annals of solo sailing history.

This success results from the close collaboration that has developed between the Agglomeration of Les Sables d’Olonne and the Don McIntyre’s GGR organizational team. This is an excellent base from which to consider a new edition in 2022.

We must also consider the three sailors still competing in the current race. It’s our duty to welcome them properly and I have no doubt that Les Sables will respond just as enthusiastically to their return.”

Don McIntyre, Chairman of the Golden Globe Race, added. “A host port for the UK activities during the build-up to the 2022 Race cannot be addressed until BREXIT negotiations have been settled. Once a deal between Britain and the EU has been finalised, efforts will be made to find an enthusiastic partner to celebrate the original Race back in 1968/9. In the weeks ahead, GGR officials will be discussing with Les Sables the opportunities of basing the 2022 edition in this French port. Their support and passion for the 2018 GGR is to be admired and we hope we are here for the next edition. We are extremely grateful for the warm welcome received for this edition from officials and public “

Position of skippers at 08:00 UTC 13.02.19

  1. Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)Rustler 36 Matmut    Finished   211d 23h 12m 19s
  2. Mark Slats (NED)Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick  Finished  216d 00h 18m 30s Inc. 36h penalty
  3. Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
  4. Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
  5. Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR) Suhaili virtual race position in 1969 (9th Feb)
  6. Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria

CHICHESTER CLASS

  1. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda

RETIRED

  1. Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
  2. Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
  3. Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
  4. Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
  5. Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
  6. Are Wiig (NOR) OE 32 Olleanna
  7. Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
  8. Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
  9. Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
  10. Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
  11. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
  12. Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut

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Day 218 – The Race for 3rd

Day 218 – The Race for 3rd

Istvan Kopar now within 500 miles of 3rd placed Uku Randmaa
Uku running out of food with 3,100 miles to the finish
Tapio Lehtinen due to round Cape Horn this week
J-L Van Den Heede and Mark Slats struggle with life ashore

Dateline: 16:00 UTC – 04/02/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne. France

As Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats 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 Tradewind sailing to close the gap by 398 miles during the same period.

Stuck in the Doldrums, Uku Randmaa managed to make just 4 miles on Sunday and ended the day with his boat facing the wrong way! He has been stuck in calms for much of last week and 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 South East 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 Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and his rival Mark Slats, it will be a case of who makes the first mistake over the final 3,000 miles back to Les Sables d’Olonne.

Back in August, when Istvan 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!

Uku 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, Jean-Luc has tipped the scales 11kg lighter than when he set out. Mark Slats had shed 18kg. How much will Uku lose?

Meanwhile, Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen is within 200 miles of Cape Horn and looking to round some time on Wednesday. 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 on Saturday, which puts her 4 days ahead in virtual terms. Today, the GGR Tracker is predicting a May 7 finish for Tapio, 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 Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats are struggling with the transition between their solo sailing world and reality ashore. Jean-Luc 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 Jean-Luc (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. Jean-Luc, 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. Jean-Luc brought ashore 14 bags weighing 93kg and Mark had 15 bags weighing 113kg

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Day 214 – Mark Slats secures 2nd place finish in Golden Globe Race

Day 214 – Mark Slats secures 2nd place finish in Golden Globe Race

Arrived at 22:18:30 UTC to a rousing welcome in Les Sables d’Olonne

Dateline: 03:00 – 01/02/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne. France

42-year old Dutch sailor Mark Slats and his Rustler 36 Ophen Maverick took second place overall in the 2018 Golden Globe Race last night, and despite the late hour, received a rousing welcome from Dutch, French and British supporters there to applaud his super-human efforts in trying to overhaul race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede back up the Atlantic Ocean.

Slats, a record breaking Atlantic rower, was challenging for the lead from the start, but a tactical decision to follow the traditional clipper ship route on a wide sweep round the western side of the South Atlantic, left him at a 900 mile disadvantage to his French rival by the time he had reached the Cape of Good Hope. Van Den Heede then extended that lead to 2,000 miles through the Southern Ocean before his yacht Matmut, another Rustler 36, was pitch poled some 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn which left the Frenchman with a damaged mast to nurse for the rest of the circumnavigation.

That gave Slats an opportunity – which he grasped with both hands. By the time he rounded Cape Horn, the Dutchman had regained 500 miles, and by the time they had reached the Azores, the difference between them in terms of distance to finish was less than 50 miles. That was when Slat’s luck ran out. Questions over the validity of his Ham radio licence, left him ostracised by the amateur net and without regular weather updates at a critical period. “I didn’t get forecasts for 7 days and ran straight into calms.”

There were also issues with Van Den Heede’s Ham licence but as he put it when talking to Slats on the dock, “I had a few French friends who kept broadcasting to me.” He was soon 400 miles ahead again and kept this cushion to the finish.

For Slats, the most frightening moments came in the Indian Ocean when caught in the same 60-70knot storm that put paid to Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin and Indian Abhilash Tomy’s challenges. “We agreed to keep in radio contact every 3 hours.” Recalled Slats. “We spoke to each other on the first two scheds. but there was no one there for the third. I learned later from Race HQ that they had both capsized and lost their rigs.”

The full force of that storm hit Ohpen Maverick soon after and she suffered two major knockdowns. During the first, Slats was thrown overboard and saved only by his lifeline, which catapulted him back on to the cockpit floor. “It was a massive knockdown through 120°, then I suffered another which filled the boat right up to the level of the nav station. “That’s when I began to pray – and they were obviously answered because after pumping by hand for an hour, and with two electric pumps working, I managed to get the boat dry.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the first Golden Globe Race 50 years before: sent Mark a congratulatory note. “You have my respect for a very difficult voyage well accomplished. To be second to Jean Luc is to be at the highest level of solo sailing. A fantastic performance.”

Mark Slats set a time of 214 days, 12hours, 18minutes 43seconds but carries a 36 hour penalty for improper contact over the Sat Phone by his team manage which leaves him with a race time of 216 days 00hours 18minutes 30 seconds.

Click here to watch Press Conference with Mark Slats

Click here to watch full dockside interview

Click here to read timeline of how the Race played out

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GGR NOTICE of RACE Determination NO. 5 MARK SLATS 30th January 2019

GGR NOTICE of RACE Determination…NO. 5 MARK SLATS 30th January 2019.

MARK SLATS BREACH of NOR 3.1.4 TELEPHONE CONTACT.

Background

28th January 2019 At 10:30, Race HQ received a communication from Dick Koopmans, Mark Slats‘ team manager, saying that a storm was predicted in the Bay of Biscay just as Mark Slats was expecting to finish, and asking for the Race finish line to be moved 50 miles offshore. This was denied.

11:59, Race HQ responded to Koopmans saying that Race Chairman Don McIntyre had sent a weather warning to Slats and that Mark had subsequently called via his safety sat phone to discuss the weather scenario. Slats advised that he was receiving weather forecasts onboard and was aware of the approaching storm. The email advised Koopmans that Slats was not slowing down and planned to continue towards the finish line. It added. “But if you want a message passed on about the weather, we are happy to do that. Just email here.”

12:21 Koopmans replied by e.mail saying that “I spoke to Gerrit Hiemstra, one of our leading meteorologists in Holland…In his opinion it is completely unsafe to sail into the Bay of Biscay. He suggests to stay outside and finish in La Coruna or Brest, but not in Les Sables d’Olonne. This is also the (unofficial) opinion of the Dutch Coastguard and Falmouth Coastguard.

I am very unhappy with your advice and consider to call Mark on his Iridium phone, whatever the consequences may be.”

13:16, Race Chairman Don McIntyre responded: “Just a reminder, we never give directives to entrants. We give opinions and the final choice is up to entrants. Mark is receiving weather reports on his radio….

I would strongly suggest that you do NOT call Mark. I have offered to message him any advice you wish to send him in relation to safety avoiding the storm. I am awaiting for that advice. All decisions are the responsibility of the skipper.…I am now officially asking you for your advice on the safest route for him to take if you wish to be involved with efforts to send him to the safest place. I will then pass him that from you.”

13:28: message from GGR HQ to Mark.Dick advice: head to la Corunna or Brest to miss the storm.”

13:33 Email from Koopmans to GGR: ”Ignoring authorities like Coastguard and top meteorologist. I do not trust the Race Committee on their knowledge in the situation. I think safety is now more important than rules.

I will send Mark messages to his Iridium phones from now on.

13:34. Email from Koopmans to GGR: Do not speak to Mark in my name.”

13:38 Race HQ to Koopmans: Mark will be penalised for breach of rules. We have NOT been directed by any authority and if you look at your emails, we are awaiting your advice on where to send him. Your actions and comments DO NOT relate in the best interests of Mark’s race and we are both working towards Mark’s Safety. PLEASE place your message through GGR. If you need clarification, please ring. WE ARE STILL WAITING YOUR ADVICE.

YOU RISK PENALISING MARK FOR NO REASON AT ALL…YOUR CHOICE. WE HAVE MADE IT CLEAR WE CAN SEND ANY MESSAGE TO HIM. WE ARE STILL WAITING. YOU MUST NOT CONTACT MARK

13:46: Email from Koopmans to Race HQ: “Safety is more important than penalties. You can read all the messages later and decide on penalties.”

RULES APPLICABLE

3.1.4 A Skipper may only contact the GGR control by GGR sat phone or YB3 texting during the Voyage and may not use these to contact any other party except in an emergency.

3.1.12 Failure to comply with any of these rules , will lead to the skipper having to abandon the Race.

GGR FINDINGS

Koopmans is the Official Manager of MARK SLATS as required in the NOR.

Koopmans ignored GGR written advice multiple times to NOT contact MARK SLATS or a Breach of the Notice of Race would occur and a penalty would be applied.

Koopmans messaged Slats directly (confirmed by Mark Slats)–

A breach of the Notice of Race 3.1.4 is confirmed.

PENALTY

MARK SLATS is moved to the CHICHESTER CLASS.

TIME PENALTY SUBSTITUTE

The GGR committee has determined that as a result of the actions following the unauthorized satellite communications, NO materiel benefit has been gained.

A Time Penalty Substitutes has been considered by the committee and while the entrant has not requested it due to time constraints, the committee has allowed it.

For the unauthorized sat phone use an 18 hour time penalty is applied.

For the total disregard (with intent) to warnings by the GGR to the Manager, an 18 hour time penalty is applied.

As the GGR committee had previously agreed that the penalty Box be moved to 20degrees North Latitude, the total 36 hour penalty will be added to Mark Slats’ finish time and his OFFICIAL FINISHING TIME will be amended accordingly.

MARK SLATS returns from Chichester Class to the GGR. ENDS.

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Day 212 – Van Den Heede receives huge welcome back in Les Sables d’Olonne

Day 212 – Van Den Heede receives huge welcome back in Les Sables d’Olonne

Finish time: 211d – 23hr- 12m 19s
Mark Slats – back on course with a 36 hour penalty

Dateline: 17:00 UTC 29. 01. 2019 – Les Sables d’Olonne, France

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede wrote his name into the record books by not only winning the 2018 Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race today, but becoming the oldest in history to complete such a race. The 73-year old French veteran of six solo circumnavigations takes over both titles from Britain’s Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the sole finisher of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 50 years before. Until the finish gun fired at 09:12 UTC, Sir Robin had held the title as the oldest solo circumnavigator in a race, after completing the Velux 5 Oceans Race in 2007 at the age of 68.

Age is clearly no barrier, for Van Den Heede has led this race ever since rounding the Cape of Good Hope. At one point he and his Rustler 36 yacht Matmut had built up a 2,000 mile lead over second placed Dutchman Mark Slats, until pitch-poled during a ferocious southern ocean storm some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn. He and his yacht survived the ordeal but when she righted herself, Jean-Luc was devastated to find that the pressure on the bolt holding the lower shrouds had torn a 10cm long hole down the mast section.

His first reaction was to head north to the Chilean port of Valparaiso to replace the mast, which would have put him out of the running for the main prize, but two days later, he had worked out a way to repair the damage and headed back towards Cape Horn once more under reduced sail.

Slowly but surely, Mark Slats narrowed the lead, regaining 500 miles by the Horn, and by the Azores, Van Den Heede’s advantage was less than 50 miles in terms of distance to finish. But then the French veteran showed his experience, delivering a master class in ocean racing tactics to pull back a 400 mile advantage over his 41-year old rival.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, one of the first to welcome Van Den Heede at the finish, said: “Jean-Luc is to be congratulated for a magnificent performance, made all the greater by the jury repairs he had to make to his mast to stay in the Race. I’m sorry to lose my record as the oldest to race solo around the world, but it couldn’t go to a better person.”

Race Chairman Don McIntyre, who was inspired by Knox-Johnston’s achievement in winning the first solo race back in 1968/9 to organise this 50th anniversary event, was just as ecstatic: “How fantastic. What a win for Jean-Luc. He has proved that age is just a number. Jean-Luc’s performance is a classic example of planning, preparation and execution. This has been a great celebration for adventure and resurrecting the history of the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.”

A joyful Jean-Luc Van Den Heede said: “Before the knockdown, I had a 2,000 mile lead but the repairs cost me a week which cut the lead back by 500 miles. Then, once back in the Atlantic, Mark Slats kept nibbling way at the distance and became a real threat. At the Azores, my one option was to go north as fast as I could, and a day after making that tack, Slats followed me. I could see from the weather forecasts that he was heading directly towards the high pressure system there, and a day later he was cooked. He is still cooked now – and I am here!”

More than 100 vessels ventured out into the cold wet January weather to welcome Jean-Luc back to his home port, and the entire town of Les Sables d’Olonne, including classes of school children, braved the conditions to line the harbour walls and give their hero the warmest of welcomes.

Talking about his earlier solo circumnavigations, Van Den Heede said. “My two previous Vendee Globe races (which also start and finish in Les Sables d’Olonne) were just practice races for this Golden Globe Race.”

The Golden Globe Race is unique in the fact that all the yachts are traditional long keel cruising boats between 32-36ft long. Skippers must rely on sextant, chronometer and paper charts to navigate by and can receive no outside assistance. Second placed Mark Slats, who has been penalised for receiving information directly from his shore manager yesterday, called Race HQ at 15:00 UTC seeking an update on the approaching storm predicted to blow into the Bay of Biscay on Thursday. This Low pressure system has changed direction over night and is not now expected to impinge on the course, so Slats has altered course away from refuge in La Coruna and is once more on course for Les Sables d’Olonne

Race Chairman Don McIntyre issued for following statement: “Mark Slats is currently 350 miles from the finish line and we now expect him to finish late Friday. The GGR Committee has assessed the evidence surrounding the breach of GGR Notice of Race Rule 3.1.4 – Telephone contact – and applied a 36 hour time penalty. which would normally be served in a penalty box at sea. However, because of a previous decision not to serve penalties in the Bay of Biscay at this time of the year, the penalty will be added to his finish time. A full account of the findings will be published in the next 24 hours.

The original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968/9 had 9 entrants and only one finisher – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who became the first to sail solo non-stop round the globe. This race has also had a high attrition rate with five of the original starters still in the hunt. Jean-Luc’s performance has beaten Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s time by 100 days – a remarkable achievement. Four gave up for personal reasons, one suffered steering failure and five were rolled, dismasted and rescued in the Southern Ocean, including British yachtswoman Susie Goodall. Another set a jury rig and successfully made it to Cape Town unaided, and two more were forced by circumstances to stop in Australia.

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