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The weekly satellite phone calls are quite revealing. For me as the person usually answering, I must manage a safety call that is not part of the GGR philosophy. It is a satellite phone. The entrants crave the very real social connection and sometimes ask for information I cannot give. You will hear me ask… are you OK? The boats OK? And then I give them space to talk. I tell them their tracker is good! and we are receiving their satellite tweets. If I know they have some maintenance or equipment issues I will asks for more information. We like to build a picture of their actual reliability, or potential to face new challenges ahead. It’s all business.

The media listen in to pick up snippets and so do many supporters and friends. It is the only window into their world that us mere mortals have. In the GGR office it can be quite emotional. They are all part of our family and daily lives. We live with emergency phones we hope never ring. We know them, their back stories and everything passes through us.

So what do I think about each entrant so far. How would I rate their status heading into the Southern Ocean? Are they OK and where do they and their boat sit in the GGR going forward? I am often asked, so at risk of alienating some here are my personal impressions.

TOMY ..Is enjoying the experience with total passion. He is confident in himself and his boat which is in good shape, no issues reported. He was born to do this again. He is having fun, always smiling and apart from hitting something last night is sailing very well. The isolation is NOT worrying him. 96%

ANTOINE..His stop in Marina Rubicon was a surprise to many. It was as much for him as his boat to take stock and sort both out. He is moving forward reliably and is not pushing hard so may have found himself and the pace for the boat that he is comfortable with? All entrants know that once you pass under Cape Town there is no turning back and this will be on his mind for sure. 79%

ARE..Is simply in his own world. Making himself busy every day, totally relaxed, nothing is a bother and never bored, happy as a man living his dream in a boat he loves and ready for anything! He looks forward to every day and is eager for the South. It is that simple..Loving life!! 96%

GREGOR..Has a fire in his belly with a lot at stake and plenty to prove. He is working hard. His boat is good but there are a few little issues to contend with and he does that well. He is comfortable in his world having fun and wants more! 95%

IGOR..He is definitely OK ! a real sailors sailor, tough and hardy. I sail with Russian sailors most summers to Antarctica and they can do anything and fix anything . This is IGOR! He knows sail shape and has one of the Biggest boats in the GGR. It is a lot to look after, so he is and will be kept busy. He smokes hard, talks perfect Russian to us all and has a huge smile..He is OK! 91%

ISTVAN..Is pure determination in the face of adversity. A strong sailor and experienced seaman who takes it all in his stride. He knows what has to be done and worked hard to get where he is, but still little things are against him. He is a stayer, and nothing can stop him. He keeps smiling when others may not, so he is doing well. Looking for icebergs last night shows he is trying to think of everything! 89%

JL VDH ..What can you say about this OLD man?? He even carries a small toy inflatable dingy to replace the rudder pin on his wind vane! Well prepared, confident, superb sailor and seaman that is living his life every day and will be sad crossing the finish line. 99%…Unbelievable!

LOIC..is to me a hero. It has not been easy at every level for him to be heading as you read this toward the Southern Ocean. A life dream he nearly lost a few times and now he is entering the toughest part. He is in the biggest battle of his life maybe and does this when others would have Quit. It shows. He moves forward every day the best he can with what he has. RESPECT! 87%

Capt’n COCONUT...Is loud, singing, confident with a plan for every occasion. His boat is good and the colour is like its skipper, Bright and Bold! Never complaining always looking after his boat, not going fast but not going slow, he knows you must finish to win so he is racing! He is doing it His way, and nothing is going to change that. Navy shining through. 95%

MARK SLATS…is BIG! He is powerful and driven to succeed, but sometimes the little things cause problems. Forgetting all gloves seems simple but in snow and windchill temperatures below zero can have a flow on effect. The boat is good, he is ready and JL VDH is a good target! 94%

PHILIPPE…Is a Racing sailor and his Race could be run? Wind vane failure maybe the end game. Next day Losing the tiller a simple challenge. Sometimes a fast sailor must move forward and there will be plenty to do in Cape Town. A new wind vane? Or a new life? 82%

SUSIE..Sailing well, laughing, doing research, fixing things with everything in her stride. She is on the program clearly happy enjoying what she loves and doing it oh so well! Importantly she is consistent and in touch with the leaders. Great Boat, great sailor, great Race, great future! 96%

TAPIO..Is frustrated beyond words, but happy to be in the GGR. With electrical issues knocking the edge off pure pleasure, he is still a happy man. He balances life onboard to enjoy special moments then sort the problems. A true seaman that understands the word seamanship, he hopes he sails past Cape Town. A true gentleman with passion and skill. 90%

UKU… On an ordinary sail, that is about to get tough and he lives that. Simple on the outside, detailed on the inside. He is an unassuming serious sailor expecting anything. Always OK, boat good, missing home and little problems are to be expected. He gets on with it. Simple! 95%

- Don McIntyre

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