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2nd GGR Summary: Lanzarote to Equator Passing

This 2nd GGR SUMMARY by JUSTUS SLAAKWEG is a great overview to better understand the basis of this section of the GGR. Justus will be giving us his summaries for each stage of the GGR with the next scheduled to take us from the Equator down to below Africa leading into the Southern Ocean. I hope you enjoy it and a reminder that every Saturday I will be answering any questions you may have. We call for Questions on Fridays on GGR Facebook. Justus is an avid GGR fan who has kindly offered these interesting overviews so THANKS!!! Justus.


Founder and Race Chairman

Second review: Lanzarote to equator passing

Departure from Lanzarote

From the departure from the mandatory passing gate at Marina Rubicon the fleet has it’s first test of gale force winds: 30-40 knots of wind reported by ABHILASH and MARK SLATS. This does not pass without some issues: SUSIE and MARK SINCLAIR reporting waves coming in and wet chart tables. NABIL broke his welds of the Self steering vane, which will lead to his retirement.

The leaders (PHILIPPE, JL VDH, MARK SLATS) spend the longest time in the gale force wind, extending their lead into the doldrums.

Image 6 (below the text, numbering continues from latest summary 19th of July): fleet in strong winds, leaders into Doldrums.

Passing of the Doldrums

On the route towards the Doldrums a strategic decision is to leave de Cape Verde island to port (east) or to starboard (west). The wind information on the tracker shows the westside has more wind. Keep in mind the sailors do not have any graphic weather information: they need to rely on their barometer and own interpretations or via information the reaches them via the HF or HAM radio.

Keeping the island west means more wind, but also more miles.

ABHILASH and LOIC take the westerly route and gain little advantage as the rest of the fleet experience light winds in the beginning, but end up staying longer in the Doldrums as the rest of the fleet.

See image 7 (below the text) from July the 23rd: with the most of the fleet already out the Doldrums ABHILASH, LOIC and MARK SINCLAIR still need to escape.

Image 7 also shows ISTVAN mooring outside of the Cape Verde islands. Istvan decided to head for port after technical issues with his wind vane. As he has not received outside assistance of materials the Race Official kept in in the GGR instead of Chichester Class and only gave him a time penalty for usage of his Satellite phone outside of the rules.


If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Doldrums: see Image 8 (below the text) for an Explanation. The Doldrums refers to a band of Low Pressure around the equator with very light to no winds (the blue area in image 8).

The heating of the air around the equator leads to expanding atmosphere. This makes the air rise above the equator and travel north or south of the equator and return on horse latitude in the form of the Trade Winds. This leads to severe or light winds, but also to thunderstorms, squalls and hurricanes.

This is also the area where the Trade Winds meet in opposite directions ( yellow and orange arrows). The red arrows show the direction of rotation for high pressure zones: clockwise on the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise on the Southern Hemisphere.

East or west?

After being released from the Doldrums the next strategic decision is to follow East or West around the South Atlantic High Pressure System. MARK SLATS is the first to pick the eastern route with GREGOR following 3 days later. Although sailing larger distance they have the advantage of following the trade winds on a beam reach instead of sailing upwind, as seen in image 9.

Image 9 from july 30 ( below the text): this shows MARK SLATS and GREGOR on the eastern route, with MARK SLATS being most south compared to PHILIPPE and JL VDH.

The following fleet has expanded more compared to Image 7ABHILASHMARK SINCLAIR and LOIC also chose the eastern route, but ABHILASH and LOIC are entering an area of light wind. In Image 7 GREGOR was on the same latitude as SUSIEImage 9 shows GREGOR more south.

Most challenges the sailors have experienced these days is by far the heat around the equator. Some report to have already used a lot of fresh water (ANTOINE) while others reported little use of continues replenishment during squalls (MARK SLATS). The light winds are used by the sailors to do rigging checks (ARE) or cleaning the hull (SUSIE).SUSIE also reports a setback as she has dropped her spinnaker pole.

Image 10 (below the text) shows ABHILASH and LOIC have not suffered from the light patch of air and the order of the fleet has not changed much. All are now experiencing moderate winds varying from close reach to beam reach. UKU has taken over SUSIE, but they remain close with TAPIO and ARE.

Next step:

Some already report preparing for getting south: as they approach Cape Town they will need to be ready to catch the high speed train of the westerlies in the Roaring Forties.

More to come, see you next time.

By Justus


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