- Jeremy Bagshaw rounds Cape Horn in between heavy weather systems
- Abhilash Tomy reduces the gap with Kirsten Neuschäfer who thinks she’s chasing him
- Simon Curwen in Chichester Class could play line honours with the leaders after a 1,000-mile week
- Ian Herbert-Jones 550 miles from Cape Horn in good weather conditions so far, but will they last?
- The virtual GGR has a winner, Don currently 22nd!
Jeremy Bagshaw (ZAF) who’s had his fair share of issues, with barnacles forcing him to moor in South Africa and stop in Australia, has been a model of determination in continuing his round the world adventure.
The Saffer has sailed more in heavy weather during this GGR than anyone in the fleet and spent three days in storm conditions towards Cape Horn, running bare poles most of the time. He was emotional to have rounded Cape Horn after 191 days, as he shared in his safety call. He is the 5th 2022 GGR sailor to do so, leaving Ian alone in the Pacific.
I’ve had pretty rough weather on the way down. I lost my inflatable danbuoy, a wave broke my dodger, my external sat phone antenna and the wooden vane of my windvane. Unfortunately it was squally, rainy and cloudy at the horn so I did not see much. The weather lifted for 10 minutes so I could just see the lights. Earlier in the day I could see Hermite Island for an hour. I am now looking forward to being at 34 south, my favourite latitude, the one of Cape Town and Punta del Este.Jeremy Bagshaw, Olleanna
With both Jeremy Bagshaw and Kirsten Neuschäfer, 100% of the South African entrants have now sailed around the Horn. The southern sailing nation is used to heavy conditions, and can now boast two more Cape Horners joining Bertie Reed. 30 years before Kirsten rescued Tapio, the famous salty sea dog picked up a fellow South African sailor, whose yacht had been hit by a growler near Cape Horn in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge.
Ian Herbert-Jones (GBR), in fourth position and the last GGR sailor in the Pacific, is currently 550 miles from Cape Horn. Worried about arriving late in the season, he and Puffin are enjoying surprisingly good conditions on their way down since they escaped from the dreaded Pacific exclusion zone.
However he also had his fair share of breakages. After he repaired a couple of issues with the Hydrovane in stronger conditions, a large section of the mainsail has ripped, as he shared in his safety call. Ian will spend the weekend in manageable conditions, but the last stretch to the Horn on the 21st and 22nd will be very windy!
I’ve had a few repairs on the way down on the Hydrovane, and I have a rip in the mainsail that I decided to repair after Cape Horn. It’s cold and windy here, so I sail on the 3rd reef and stay sail all the way down to bare poles when the wind picks-up. It’s as we say of the English winter: it won’t kill you but it isn’t nice!Ian Herbert-Jones, Puffin
Atlantic showdown and a fragile lead at the fleet’s forefront
The fleet’s experience in the Atlantic is very different to Ian’s, with the scorching sun and extensive areas of calms giving the skippers a hard time in the horse latitudes. Simon Curwen (GBR), in Chichester Class, has been the luckiest so far, enjoying idyllic downwind conditions all week. He has massively closed the gap on Abhilash, but he is no longer racing, just cruising.
Modern racing yachts know their exact position several times a day. They download GRIB files for routing and get their fleet ranking at least once a day. This is not the case for the GGR sailors. Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF), who has been leading the fleet since January, still thinks she is chasing Bayanat when in fact she is more than 300 miles ahead.
Having discovered a problem with her bowsprit on which Minnehaha‘s genoa is rigged, Kirsten has been sailing more conservatively while trying to catch up with an imaginary leader. While her easterly course gave her a clear advantage last week, this week she ran into a windless wall in the latitude of the horses.
Working hard to get 40-60 miles a day out of Minnehaha, Kirsten, who chose her route based on centuries-old data, now thinks she has made a wrong decision and is unaware that she is still a few hundred miles ahead of Abhilash Tomy (IND) who is now done with rebuilding his Rustler and is finally enjoying the great sailing conditions!
After the Southern Ocean, this is very enjoyable sailing. It’s warm, dry, I have wind, a lot of water, and a lot of sleep. I still have a few electrical problems and my new foils are not working well, but I’m not bothered!Abhilash Tomy, Bayanat
After a rather low morale for Kirsten on Wednesday’s safety call, the wind finally came back from the east at the end of the week. Minnehaha is back to her more usual speeds of 6-8 knots, increasing her lead over the rest of the fleet, while Abhilash and Bayanat, who have slowed down considerably, now have to go through the wall that stopped the leader!
Simon Curwen (GBR) in Chichester Class on Clara had his best week of sailing in a long time, surfing in south-easterly winds brought by the high pressure south of his position. Alternating between full main/maxi spinnaker and reefed main/genoa when the conditions are too rough, Clara/Howdens, has sailed between 140 and 155 miles a day. The red Biscay is the only boat to have exceeded 1,000 miles this week, coming within 500 miles of Kirsten while the skipper enjoyed the sailing tremendously as he shared during his weekly safety call.
In the same weather system as the two leaders, 4,000 miles from the finish, with the dreaded doldrums to cross, Simon could well play the line honours with Kirsten and Abhilash en route to Les Sables d’Olonne, but he too has to cross the wall in front, first!
Playing with fire
It was a week of calms for Michael Guggenberger (AUT). In third position, he looked like he could give the leaders a run for their money for a while but his gap with Simon increased significantly after he got stuck in the centre of a high pressure.
Cpt Gugg is now a week behind Simon, and has been trying to cross the centre of the high to get downwind conditions to the east of it, to no avail. After days of calm, he has done all the work on his to-do list, but he is also enjoying the sunny, quiet sailing conditions after several months in the Southern Ocean.
Alas, the forecast shows no mercy for Nuri: the high pressure extending north this weekend, meaning more calms in the days to come. It is certainly a long way home through the horse latitudes, getting baked in the cockpit in the scorching sun before taking on the dreaded doldrums.
The (virtual) GGR has a winner!
With 630 starters, the GGR 2022 Virtual Race organised by Real Sail and McIntyre Adventure is a hit! As with the real world race, the attrition rate was high, with 122 entrants left racing to the finish. While Don is doing well in 22nd position, it is player BooBill from Team Canada who finished 1st on March 13 at 07:02:19 UTC time, completing the course in 189 days. Congratulations BooBill, come and pick your GGR Trophy in Les Sables d’Olonne during the official prize giving ceremony!