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DAY 120: Barnacles – the scourge of solo circumnavigators

DAY 120: Barnacles – the scourge of solo circumnavigators

Susie Goodall ETA at Boatshed.com Hobart Gate tomorrow
What is happening to those abandoned yachts?
Letter from Loïc Lepage

Dateline 16:00 UTC 29.10.2018 – Hobart, Tasmania

When Uku Randmaa set off from the BoatShed.com Film gate in Hobart in third place within the Golden Globe Race fleet last Saturday, he was not thinking about closing the gap between 2nd placed Dutchman Mark Slats, but how to keep ahead of 4th placed Susie Goodall, due into Hobart tomorrow night.

His problem? Barnacles. The bottom of his Rustler 36 One and All is covered in them, and not being a keen swimmer, he is left wondering how to get rid of all these speed-sapping encrustations. It is not helped by the fact that he forgot to pack his mask and fins before leaving Les Sables’ d’Olonne at the start of the Race
Don McIntyre, the Race Chairman currently in Hobart to welcome the leading sailors, reports: “I’ve never seen anything this bad in my entire sailing life. I felt so sad waving goodbye knowing that they will continue to grow every day to the finish. He left with a best estimate drag penalty of 0.5 – 1knot for every hour he is sailing. That’s 12-24 miles lost every day for the next 100 days!”

But the Estonian sailor is not alone with his dilemma. Finnish entrant s Tapio Lehtinen, currently languishing in 6th place, reported the same issue yesterday. Wondering why his Gaia 36 Asteria was not keeping pace with Susie Goodall’s DHL Starlight, and losing ground to Istvan Kopar’s Tradewind 35 Puffin – two weeks ago, the two were trading places on an almost daily basis – he dived over the side to check his rudder and was shocked to find the hull infested with goose barnacles. It answered his question, but being down at 41°S, the water temperature is around 11°C, which he decided was it too cold to hang about in. The encrustations proved too hard to remove anyway and Tapio says that he will need to make a scraper between now and Hobart, ready to tackle the problem there.

Mark Slats has also suffered from a barnacle infestation on his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick. On October 4, the Dutchman reported: “I was incredibly surprised how many barnacles were attached on the bottom of the boat. I went into the water during a calm period and needed 2 hours to clean the bottom. I used a filling knife followed by sandpaper and then finished with a scourer. I came out of the water like an ice cube. The water was freezing cold and really hurt my forehead, but after fifteen minutes you get used to it.”

Are these experiences a damning indictment to the ineffectiveness of modern antifouling paints? These boats all had their bottoms painted at the end of May and the coatings have not even lasted 6 months – and for the last 6 weeks or so in very cold water.

Lionel Regnier, who assisted both Uku Randmaa and GGR leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede during their final preparations, says: The antifouling was applied to Uku’s boat just after Jean-Luc’s. Uku’s had only 2 coats applied, but Jean-Luc who used the same process and applicator, had a third coat plus a ‘hot’ top coat mixed with copper powder which erodes as the boat passes through the water. The only barnacles are attached to the gel coat.”

Early today, Jean-Luc, now almost half way across the Pacific, some 2,000 miles ahead of Mark Slats, reported by satphone that he had been running under spinnaker for the past 48 hours and making 7knots. “Spinnaker up night and day! A little too stressful to sleep!”

He has only a couple of barnacles on the hull above the antifouling and says “It feels like a Pacific cruise with easy miles.” The 73-year old added that he still has a good variety of food onboard including onions and garlic, 150 litres of water – and plenty of wine! Apart from his family, he is missing nothing. The Matmut skipper expects to round Cape Horn on November 21.

Barnacles apart, Randmaa was also in good spirits at the Hobart stopover, despite losing weight. “Yes, I have lost some kilograms…and will lose more so I will be looking much younger when I get back to the finish” he joked.

And fun? “That is one of the most important things. You have to be enjoying yourself, but sometimes it is hard!” He also expressed satisfaction with his choice of boat “Rustlers are 1st to 4th, and I have no issues with the rig or sails.” He did however admit that he only had one winch handle, after forgetting to pack spares.

Of storms, he said every one was different. “During one, I took all my sails down.” I don’t have a drogue – I believe it is too dangerous to stop the boat, but in bad conditions I tow warps which keeps the stern facing the seas. During one storm I used my spinnaker sheets – they were dirty and needed a wash, and towed four of them behind the boat.`’

He says that the worst damage to sails can often occur during calms rather than storms. “It is not good for them to flog about, so I take them down. I may lose some miles, but worth it (to avoid damage)”
For the full interview click here

FAQ: What has happened to the yachts abandoned in the Indian Ocean?

Frenchman Loïc Lepage cut one of the inlet pipes to scuttle his dismasted Nicholson 32 Laaland before he abandoning her for the safety of the Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai on October 22 and the yacht’s tracking signal stopped within a few hours signalling that she had sunk

But Abhilash Tomy’s Thuriya and Hanley Energy Endurance skippered by Gregor McGuckin, both abandoned some 45 miles south of an International Marine Reserve surrounding the Amsterdam and St Paul chain of Islands on September 23 were left afloat. The battery running Thuriya’s tracker ran out of power on October 3, but that on Hanley Energy is still pinging away on the GGR tracker.

What state is she in? Could she be salvaged? Australian Mark Sinclair trailing in 7th place aboard his Lello 34 Coconut passed close to Amsterdam Island last Friday and is now within 180 miles of the Irish yacht. He has agreed to try and intercept her position during the next two days, photograph her and report back on her condition.

Other interceptions

Is there much shipping in the Southern Ocean? Appears so. Istvan Kopar and his yacht Puffin were spotted and photographed in good order last night (Sunday) by the French warship L’Astrolable, and the Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai which rescued Loïc Lepage last week, sailed past Igor Zaretskiy’s Endurance 35 Esmeralda yesterday. The ship communicated with Igor on VHF and reported “All OK” aboard.

Susie Goodall ETA at Boatshed.com Hobart Film Gate

Susie Goodall is now expected to arrive at the Boatshed.com Hobart Film Gate some time between 08:00 UTC (00:00 local) and 18:00 UTC on 30th October (06:00 local on 31st Oct). Watch live updates and interview on www.facebook.com/pg/goldengloberace/

Letter from Loïc Lepage

In his first communication since being picked up by the Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai on October 22, Loïc Lepage has written a first-hand account of his dismasting and rescue, throwing new light on his experiences. (translated from French)

Hi Don,

“After a few days, I want to explain the circumstances surrounding my dismasting.

Saturday, October 20 (16.00 local – 10.00 UTC) – Wind SW 25-30 knots and more under frequent squalls. Sea quite strong (4 – 5m). Mainsail set with 2 reefs and jib, broad reaching on starboard tack . Speed 6 knots and more in the squalls. I was reading inside boat. During one of these squalls I heard the sound of metal breaking in the wind. Time to put on my boots. The mast is tilted a few degrees and is now out of its step on the keel. The lower rear stay had broken. I took over steering from the windvane and decided to gybe (a faster manoeuvre than tacking in these seas). By the time Laaland reacts, the mast has taken a greater inclination. It is the running backstay that has now broken. The mast breaks 50cm above the deck. It’s finished.

The whole thing lasted just a few minutes. I was booted but only wearing underwear, am soaked through and take the time to change. I come back out with bolt croppers, hacksaw, and pliers to cut away the mast. While releasing the rigging, I notice that the origin of the break is at the vang connection to the mast. The backstay has “scalped” the aerial of the Hydrovane windvane.

By the time it takes to release everything, the mast has hit the hull under the waterline 3 or 4 times whenever the boat dived into the waves.

I leave the forestay attached to the mast as a floating anchor and Laaland is “stabilised” in this strong sea.

It is 18.00 (local), it is night and I report the situation to GGR Race Control. I tell them that I am waiting for daylight before setting up a jury rig. At this point, the boat is still “dry” and I thought that the mast knocking agains the hull had only left a few scratches!

A few hours later, around 23.00, I saw water under my bunk (I sleep in the center between my 2 boxes of supplies). There is a waterway. I am looking for the origin of the leak: It is located at the bottom of the hull, at the level of the water tank, under a moulding housing the toilet. I began to hammer this moulding but decided the hole or crack was inaccessible. It would be necessary to destroy everything: partitions and furniture, to reach this ingress of water. I have what it takes for a sealing (fast setting resin) but I’m happy for the moment to fill the gaps with what I have to hand.

The water leak flows into a sump with a capacity of about 30 liters.

I operate the electric pump which empties it in 3 or 4 minutes. and estimate that it takes between 15 and 20 minutes to fill up again. I start to pump manually using the bilge pump located in the cockpit.

It was around midnight, I believe, that I reported the situation to GGR Race Control. As I had no hope of fixing this leak properly and if it got worse, I decided I would activate the EPIRB.

Sunday, October 22nd. It is noon (around 6 pm after dismasting). I observed that the leak has stabilised to between 30–40 litres every twenty minutes.

I would have liked to set up the jury rig in order to make a faster northbound route towards the the route taken by cargo ships, but I could not do this, and at the same time steer (I no longer had a windvane – broken aerial) and pump every half hour. In addition, if I had used the electric pilot (sealed in my emergency pack) I would have very quickly drained the batteries. Instead I drifted north northeast at between1 to 2 knots, driven by steady winds from the west to southwest. If I was sailing under jury rig, I would have only made 2 more knots maximum.

The solar panels are working because there are nice clearings, but the engine proved impossible to start. A wave had flooded the cockpit dislocating the plexiglass panel and drowning the starter keyboard.

That Sunday afternoon, GGR Race Control announces me that a cargo vessel is 400 miles north and could be with me on Tuesday. In the meantime, Francis Toban competing in The Long Route ” also offered to divert (he was 200 miles to the North). He missed the rescue operation rendezvous but I thank him for his dedication.

Monday, October 22nd. After drying the starter board contacts, the motor is operational and proved very useful during the rescue operation the next morning.

The cargo ship is in sight at night around 23.00. I had installed a flash light at the end of the boom which the crew saw and positioned their ship 1mile away from me. We then waited for sunrise around 5:00. The day before, an Australian Navy plane had offered to drop me a pump which I declined because the two manual pumps and electric pump were sufficient to manage the leak.

At 6:00 am we start of the rescue operation. SHIOSAI is positioned to windward about 400 metres away, but her crew decide to restart the operation, closer to me, but still leaving me outside the ship’s wind shadow.

I proposed to started my engine to position myself much closer to the ship. With engine set at full speed, I got to within 50metres when the crew decided to launch their rescue boat to pick me up.
There is still 20 to 25 knots of wind. Very quickly, I realiise that the ship is not very easy to maneouver and that they have difficulty getting close enough for me to disembark. This lasts a good 20 minutes and I signal to the ship’s crew to throw me a rope to recover my three waterproof bags. That would mean less to take with me when the rescue boat arrives, only, the boat crew are having trouble disengaging from the ship’s crane and are going round and round in the water.

Suddenly, the crew suggest that I moor up against the ship. I catch the second rope and am lying about 10 metred from her stern when they drop a rope ladder. I tried to climb but my harness became tangled in a handrail and I crashed back down on the deck! I did not try a second attempt and instead, waited patiently for the rescue boat to get close enough to Laaland to grab me. Our lift back on to the ship was also difficult.

The operation will have lasted more than an hour I believe, while being overflown by the Royal Australian Navy. I had stopped pumping for about 2hours, and just left the electric pump running, but just before disembarking, I opened two seawater valves and removed the speedo probe to ensure that Laaland would sink quickly

Captain Raphaël VIRTUDAZO and his Filipino crew welcomed me warmly. Now heading to Las Palmas (Argentina) on SHIOSAI, a 280-metre-long Japanese bulk cargo ship carrying 30,000 tons of edible oil for Rutterdam. Expected arrival is on November 23rd.

Loïc

 

Latest positions at 16:00 UTC today 29.10.18

  1. Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)Rustler 36 Matmut
  2. Mark Slats (NED)Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
  3. Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
  4. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
  5. Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
  6. Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
  7. Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut
  8. 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

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On a ROLL!! Family is everything

On a ROLL!! Family is everything

My life these past four years is all GGR. The last 117 days I live and breathe it 24hrs. I know every sailor, every wind, every wave. I can feel entrant emotion and sometimes pain. Occasionally I anticipate their thoughts and actions. We are a little family of intrepid voyagers and adventures from all corners of the world recreating 50 years of history in the spirit of Sir Robin Knox Johnston and SUHAILI.

There are no real surprises in this game as anything goes in extreme adventure. But sometimes I too ask WHY? I am not sailing but I live it. In my subconscious I am there beside them and wake in the depth of night to wonder about one or a more. Are they ok, cold, wet, even safe? Any attempt at sleep thereafter can be challenging, so I get up and check the tracker just like many of you. I look closely for signs.

Sometimes they ring. Again, I wake immediately stumbling for the phone then the light, balancing pen and paper at the ready. Their initial relaxed HELLO means nothing to me as they hope to sound in control no matter what. It’s the following words that have me holding my breath. You what? Can you repeat that..You’re OK? Great! Do you need anything? Fantastic! I breathe again. Thanks for calling! I try to sleep, but rarely do as night turns to day my fingers still dancing across the keyboard. It’s what I want to do, so it’s OK. I am living it with my sailing family.

When that call comes describing a rollover and lost mast it is tough on us both. When it’s all over we question WHY? I personally know more sailors who have been knocked down or rolled over in the Southern Ocean that have kept their mast, than lost them. That includes me. So WHY are four GGR rigs on the seafloor? I am still thinking about it and so are many sailors. I have no simple answer for now other than suggesting it’s tough in the Southern Ocean. Maybe even tougher than it was 50 years ago. Climate is changing the world over.

All boats and rig’s went through thorough rebuilds and checks prior to the start. No one could look at GGR rigs and question their integrity. No one did. They all looked good. They were a great display of industry best practice based on around the world standards and I was happy with them. Over the next nine months we will investigate many things, talk to mast makers, riggers and the sailors themselves to see if lessons are to be learned. If there are and I hope so, we will make recommendations to entrants for the 2022 GGR. They won’t be new rules ( we already have plenty) because the GGR is for sensible sailors who are watching and learning from this extreme test and no one would intentionally go far South with a rig they believed was anything other than ready!

At any level the GGR is a HUGE challenge both emotionally and physically. I have said many times in the past that…The world has never seen anything like this for 50 years. Maybe the activities and dramas of the past months just confirms that the challenge today really is as tough as it was back then.

And then there is Susie! She has given me the toughest moments of the Race so far. What a sailor she is. Youngest person in the fleet with the courage and determination of a.????? How can you even compare her. From the very beginning she has done everything right. She is still there fighting. She has had serious challenges that have nothing to do with the weather or the boat. Social media can make it look all too easy, or all too hard, but it can never really get inside the depth of emotion it can take to keep going day after day. She has had some bad luck like all entrants. She has made good and bad decisions too. But Susie has pressures maybe more than most because she is the lone woman in the GGR with an amazing story and a great smile. On the Ocean we are all equal, but when I saw another version of ABHILASH’S and GREGOR’s storm about to form right on her projected position I thought ..OH NO! Not Susie

I checked, then checked again all possible forecasting options to take her away or through it. It was hopeless. I had to send her BACK!. How could I even suggest that!. I checked with Jesse another solo circumnavigator. He agreed she had to run, run fast and run now. I sent the message…SUSIE GO BACK! Susie rang to confirm and decided to go for it, not believing her own decision. I am not sure when I decided I would rather be out there sailing through the storm than sitting awaiting the outcome, but I did. It was tough for me. Was it the right advice or not?. Would she roll and lose the mast or worse? Time moved very slowly. It was my personal nightmare reminding me of the strength and trust of FAMILY. I am not a Race Director, I am simply family. We are close in our own way, we really are. She did it and it is her story and what a story it is. A GGR sponsor would make Jane and I VERY happy but not half as happy as when Susie rang to say it was nearly over!!! That was a dandy!!

Living the GGR through the Yellowbrick tracker is unique but throw in the daily tweets and soundcloud calls and you have a complete picture. It is rich food for your imagination. Many tell us it is more LIVE and connected than they ever would have dreamed. LOIC LEPAGE is gone and now there are only eight. You can feel the difference, you can see the difference. Who will make it to the end? This adventure has matured and like many I respect these eight more than ever before. It is a long road and we are not fully half way. J-L VDH is flying while IGOR ZARETSKIY is fighting his own battle half a world away. This is a race, an adventure, a struggle to survive and a celebration of something we rarely see these days. True human endeavor and raw courage.

I wonder what tomorrow brings?

Don

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DAY 114 – Loïc Lepage rescue successful

DAY 114 – Loïc Lepage rescue successful

Dateline 16:30 UTC 22.10.2018 – Hobart, Tasmania

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.

 

PLEASE NOTE!!!

Facebook is our frontline LIVE and information update platform for everything on the GGR. You can catch it all too on the DAY BY DAY section of the LIVE buttone on the GGR web site.. We do not want to bombard you with emails. Usally there is on average two email updates a week with extras as something important is happening. To keep up with the very latst you can listen to the GGR SOUNDCLOUD phone calls from entrants each week. You can read all the entrant daily tweets for what they are doing on twitter. You can also watch all the Facebook LIVE sessions on the tracker for explinations and read the daily written summary explinations of WHAT IS HAPPENING on GGR Facebook. We try to cover everything but when there is a lot happening you need to go to a few places to keep up. Hope you are enjoying the coverage!…all the best…DON and the team.

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Susie Goodall survives ‘horrific’ storm

DAY 113 – NEWS UPDATE

Loïc Lepage rescue update
Susie Goodall survives ‘horrific’ storm
Igor Zaretskiy suffers broken forestay
Uku Randmaa ETA Hobart Gate Oct 26. Susie Goodall, Nov 1

Dateline 16:30 UTC 22.10.2018 – Hobart, Tasmania

Loïc Lepage rescue update

French solo yachtsman Loïc Lepage is expected to be evacuated from his dismasted yacht Laaland shortly after first light on Tuesday (23:30 UTC Monday). By then both the bulk carrier Shiosai and the sailing yacht Alizes II will have reached Laaland’s position in the South Indian Ocean some 670 miles SW of Perth Western Australia, and will await the arrival of an Australian P-8A search and rescue plane overhead before starting the rescue operation.

The forecast for the region is good – 15-20 knot winds and a 3 metre swell. The primary plan is for Lepage to be recovered from his liferaft tethered on a long line to his dismasted yacht, by a boat crew from the bulk carrier Shiosai. Francis Tolan, skipper of the S/V Alizes II, a Beneteau Ocean 43 competing in the Long Route solo circumnavigation will providie backup. If conditions prove adverse, then the MV Shiosai may provide a weather lee for Alizes II to conduct the transfer instead.

Lepage has been fully briefed by GGR Organisers and will evacuate wearing his survival suit and carrying a second EPIRB on standby, VHF radio, personal location beacon and his grab bag. He has set up a bright strobe light on deck and rigged his Echomax inflatable SOLAS radar reflector 2 metres off the deck.

The 62-year old Frenchman from Vannes has also cut away all rigging so that there are no water hazards around the yacht, and has his engine ready to start should he be called to manoeuvre his boat. Both Satphone and VHF radio are on standby for incoming communications.

The Australian P-8A search and rescue plane will remain on station until the evacuation has been completed.

Susie Goodall survives ‘ horrific’ storm

In a satphone call to Race HQ today, British skipper Susie Goodall spoke for the first time about a ‘horrendous’ few days when her Rustler 36 yacht DHL Starlight was caught in a horrific Southern Ocean storm some 250 miles south of Cape Leeuwin, Australia.

The storm developed just as suddenly and with the same ferocity as the one that led to Gregor McGuckin and Abhilash Tomy being rolled and dismasted two weeks ago. “The storm really kicked in between 9pm and 9am. I had 70knot winds and 13 metre seas. They were nasty…practically vertical with breaking crests. I don’t know how we got through it. My self-steering broke and I had to hand-steer for 7 hours. We suffered several knock-downs and I feared that we might get rolled at any time.”

Susie explained that everything was soaked through above and below deck including bunk cushions and her sleeping back. “I definitely lost some weight during the storm because I couldn’t leave the helm to eat and I am now constantly cold and can’t get warm.”

Her hands suffered particularly. “I’ve never had such soft hands” she joked, adding “They are not a pretty sight. They are covered in sores and cuts, and now taped up to keep the salt out.“

With the storm closing in around her, Susie took the decision to turn round and head back west and get herself in the better sector. She didn’t escape the big winds but at least she had them hitting her from one direction only before passing overhead. What did for McGuckin and Tomy were the countering seas caused by the winds swinging through 180°. As a result, Susie may well boast that she is the first solo sailor to have passed by Cape Leeuwin three times during a circumnavigation! “I’m just glad the boat is still going.” She admitted

The storm has now passed but left an ugly sea, making it impossible for the moment to repair her wind vane self-steering. “It’s working but not very well. It will only hold a course on a beam reach, so I am having to hand steer with little sail up at the moment.”

With 1,000 miles to go to the Boatshed.com Hobart film drop, Susie is predicting an ETA on November 1st.

Igor Zaretskiy suffers broken forestay

Russian skipper Igor Zaretskiy sailing the Endurance 35 Esmeralda, now trailing at the back of the fleet, almost 6,000 miles behind race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, was forced to spend 4 hours at the top of his mast, repairing a forestay fitting. In a message to his team, he said “I thought I might die because the waves were breaking over the boat.”

On his return to deck Igor reported that he had lost all feeling in his hands and feet and has since been resting up in his bunk. That explains his very slow progress in recent days, but the Russian says that he is now looking forward to get sailing again and today’s tracker plot shows Esmeralda making 4.3 knots in the right direction again.

Both he and 7th placed Australian Mark Sinclair (Lello 34 Coconut) have some catching up to do even to beat Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s relative position in Suhaili 50 years ago. The Tracker now shows Suhaili as being more than a day ahead of them.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede sailing the Rustler 36 Matmut, is now well out in the Pacific, enjoying a 2 week lead over 2nd placed Mark Slats (Ohpen Maverick) who left the BoatShed.com Hobart film gate behind yesterday. Speaking via Satphone to Race HQ today, the 73-year old Frenchman reported “Good winds today and yesterday…I try to go as fast as possible.” He made repairs to his gennaker and was full of praise for his Hydrovane self-steering. “In a gale it has a big advantage because it is not steering the boat’s rudder, but has its own. This little rudder is far more efficient than the big rudder.”

The next GGR skipper to pass through the BoatShed.com Hobart film gate will be Estonian Uku Randmaa (Rustler 36 One and All). His current ETA is Friday 26th October, followed by Susie Goodall on1st November.

Latest positions at 16:30 UTC today 22.10.18

  1. Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)Rustler 36 Matmut
  2. Mark Slats (NED)Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
  3. Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
  4. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
  5. Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
  6. Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
  7. Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut
  8. 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

 

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Operations begin to rescue Loïc Lepage

DAY 112 – CODE RED ALERT
Operations begin to rescue Loïc Lepage from his dismasted and leaking yacht 600 miles SW of Perth, Australia
Mark Slats passes through Hobart film gate

Dateline 21.10. 2018 – Hobart, Tasmania

SITUATION UPDATE At 15:00 UTC on October 21.

At 18:27 UTC on Saturday 20th Oct. the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra (JRCC Aus.) picked up a distress beacon alert from French solo skipper Loïc Lepage. They had already been alerted by GGR organisers that his yacht Laaland had been dismasted and was taking in water some 600 miles SW of Perth, Western Australia, and took on responsibility for coordinating a rescue mission.

JRCC issued an immediate MAYDAY relay to all shipping and at 20:30 UTC, a Challenger aircraft was despatched from Perth with a droppable pump onboard to assess the situation and photograph the disabled yacht. The plane arrived on scene at 23:09 UTC and raised communications with Lepage via VHF radio. Loïc advised that he was conducting repairs to his engine and did not require the pump or any other supplies to be dropped. He also stated that water ingress was at a rate of approximately 160 litres per hour but that the onboard pumps were keeping up. The aircraft reported that the mast did not appear to be attached to the vessel, and that no other significant external damage was visible.

Throughout this period, JRCC Aus. continued to seek assistance from merchant shipping, while GGR Organisers sort to communicated with other sailing vessels in the region. Due to the severe conditions, two merchant ships advised that they were unable to assist for safety reasons.

At 00:28 UTC, an RAAF P8 search and rescue plane was tasked to overfly the area and later a civilian aircraft was relocated from Sydney to Perth to provide back-up. The Maritime Services vessel Stoker has also been placed on stand-by.

At 01:22 UTC Francis Tolan, the skipper of the S/V Alizes II, a Beneteau Ocean 43 participating in the Long Route solo circumnavigation, positioned some 300 miles NW of Laaland’s position, offered his assistance.

Then at 03:14 UTC, the bulk carrier Shiosai, which had been heading west across the Great Australian Bight, also agreed to assist, and altered course towards the distress position.

At 05:07 UTC, GGR Organisers spoke to Lepage via satphone. The Frenchman advised that water ingress remained at the same rate, that the onboard pumps were keeping up, and that he was not in imminent danger of sinking. He also reported that the yacht’s engine, which had suffered some damage from water ingress into the boat, would not start, and that a jury rig had still to be set-up. Laaland continued to drift in the approximate position 38° 50.33’ S 104°15.27E, and that Loïc was seeking rescue and transfer off his vessel.

Lepage has since repaired his engine and been advised to motor in a northerly direction to shorten the distance between him and the rescue vessels. JRCC Aus. intends to utilise the MV Shiosai and SV Alizes II as surface rescue assets and to keep Stoker on stand-by until Mon 22 Oct when a decision will be made based on a re-assessment of weather conditions and progress of Shiosai and Alizes II overnight.

In addition, an RAAF P8 search and rescue plane will fly direct from Learmonth to the distress position with an ETA of 00:30 UTC Monday. Two other planes have also been tasked to provide air overwatch as required from now until the completion of the operation.

Mark Slats 2nd at the BoatShed.com Hobart Film Gate

The second placed Australian born Dutch skipper Mark Slats arrived at the BoatShed.com Hobart film gate in daylight earlier today and took full advantage of the sunshine and warmth to dry out wet clothing and bedding and to check the rig of his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick.

Recalling his experiences across the South Indian Ocean, he said: “It was pretty rough, but I’m still going and the boat is in good shape, so I am happy. The Indian Ocean has been very hard and very painful a lot of the time. They say the Pacific is much better, so I am looking forward to that!

Describing the storm that led to Indian Abhilash Tomy and Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin being rolled and dismasted, he said: “The seas were unbelievable, but the waves were horrific up to 15 metres high. I copped one wave that broke over the back and filled the boat, and everything inside was wet.”

He thought he had been lucky with the weather, but then reminded himself  “I had 9 days of calms and then 5 days in a row of 40-50 knot head winds from the NE. That really got me down and I got pretty depressed…but then 10 minutes of good winds and speed and all was well again!”

When Mark set out with the GGR fleet from Les Sables d’Olonne on July 1st, he forgot to pack his gloves, but overcame this by wearing neoprene socks on his hands in bad weather and cutting up a jumper to make a pair of mittens to steer with.

“The worst damage has been to my electrics,” he conceded. “I have no way to monitor the batteries, no radio and no cassette players. I had two of these and two Walkmans but all have got wet. Only my VHF radio and AIS are still working.”

Last week, Mark thought he might have suffered a fractured rib when a toolbox flew across the cabin and hit him on the side during a knockdown. Today, this had all been forgotten. “Oh, it is not a problem. It only hurts a bit when I am lying down for any length of time.”

After 90 minutes, Slats rehoisted his sails and set off in pursuit of French race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, now more than 2,000 miles closer to Cape Horn, the next big turning point.

Click here to view interview with Mark Slats in Hobart

 

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