With just 3 months to the June 1st start from Les Sables d’Olonne, it is now a race against time for some of the 19 sailors left in the Golden Globe fleet to complete their boats, jury rig tests, and in one case their solo qualification distance before the fleet gathers in Falmouth on June 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s departure at the start of the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race back in 1968/9
For American Carl Huber, who sold his house and just about everything else in the garage to compete, time has already run out. Cost overruns in preparing his Baba 35 Jamma Jeanne have forced him to withdraw in the hope that he can return for the next GGR in 2022.
Huber had just returned from crossing the Pacific aboard the famous New Zealand maxi yacht Ceramco NZ, to meet the strict 8,000 mile general sailing experience each competitor must have under their belt, only to find the escalating costs involved in repowering and rigging Jamma Jeanne had exceeded all expectations.
“I’ve been holding out for a miraculous event but none was forthcoming and am now very reluctantly and painfully conceding.” He says, adding: “I consider the 2018 event to be very unique and continue to support the vision and the race. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Race Founder Don McIntyre and his team and reserve judgment on 2022.”
Nabil Amra, Francesco Cappelletti, Gregor McGuckin, Tapio Lehtinen, Philippe Péché, Uku Randmaa and Igor Zaretskiy have still to complete their 10-mile jury rig trials around a triangular course, and Nabil still has some miles to go to meet the minimum 8,000 mile general sailing and 2,000 mile solo qualifications in order to start.
Yachts on the move
Susie Goodall relaunched her Rustler 36 DHL Starlight in March and completed her jury rig test during a passage to Plymouth where a new Selden mast was stepped before she set sail for Southampton where Goodall will complete her preparations prior to the start.
Having completed initial sail and jury rig trials of his Suhaili replica yacht Thuriya, Indian entrant Abhilash Tomy had her shipped by road to Kochi at the end of March and loaded on a ship bound for Rotterdam. Tomy expects to have her relaunched and sailing in Holland by the end of April and plans to base his final preparations there.
French skipper Antoine Cousot is sailing his Biscay 36 ketch Métier Intérim down to the Loire Valley this week and motoring up river to Nantes for a private naming ceremony on April 5. He then plans to continue mixing sea trials and work on the boat to ready her for solo voyage across the Celtic Sea to Cork and Dublin before returning to Falmouth early June for a final haul out and antifoul in readiness for the Suhaili 50 Falmouth Parade of Sail and the SITRaN race back to Les Sables d’Olonne on June 14.
British/Turkish skipper Ertan Beskardes is mid-way through a solo voyage from the Med back to Falmouth and made a stop in Gibraltar just before Easter to continue on-going repairs and upgrades to his Rustler 36 Lazy Otter enroute.
“Many of the problems are due to the yacht’s age and lack of use.” He says. The rough weather leg from Sardinia to Palma highlighted several leaks through hatches, air vents and around the engine, which have now been fixed. “I also found that the heat exchanger had sucked up parts from the water pump impeller and some of the piping was leaking which have now been replaced. I am very happy with the boat and getting to know her better every day.”
Ertan expects to reach Falmouth during the latter part of April, where a new set of sails await his arrival.
Estonian solo circumnavigator Uku Randmaa plans to return to Les Sables d’Olonne on April 9 for a week of sailing trials with his Rustler 36 One and All and to check up on work carried out in his absence to fit a watertight bulkhead. He also has new sails to test and a new liferaft to install.
“I have been very busy getting my radio licences and medical examinations completed. I didn’t realise just how much paperwork has to be completed before sailing off around the world!
I hope to spend another week on the boat in May to doing more trial sailing before returning to Les Sables d’Olonne again in June to sail over to Falmouth for the Suhaili 50 Parade of Sail.”
Philippe Péché has been busy sailing his Rustler 36 PRB since her launch a month ago. His first trial sail was from La Trinite to Lorient with GGR Race Director Patrice Carpentier when the cold Spring weather confirmed the need for a heater to be fitted. Early attempts to complete his jury rig test were thwarted by a complete lack of wind on the day and he will now re-attempt to set up and complete the 10-mile triangular course test with his A-Frame system with the main mast in situ.
On April 7, Péché intends to sail solo to La Rochelle to replace the yacht’s 25-year-old self-steering system with a French-made Beaufort unit, then plans to base himself in Les Sables d’Olonne and take every opportunity to test all the new systems in rough weather conditions in the Bay of Biscay.
Australian Kevin Farebrother’s Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha was offloaded in La Havre in March and transported by road to Les Sables d’Olonne ready to be relaunched and have her rig stepped on Kevin’s arrival from Australia at the beginning of April 2.
“I’m planning to get the yacht ready during April and spend much of May test sailing her out in the Bay of Biscay. I want to get my food supplies from the UK and plan to fit in a trip to visit family in the North East some time in April or May.”
French veteran Jean-Luc van Den Heede still has a list of work to prepare his Rustler 36 Matmut, and since most of this has to be done outdoors, the cold, wet Spring weather has not helped. “I prefer to anticipate wear rather than improvise makeshift repairs and plan a long navigation to test sail the boat before the start.”
The yacht will be baptised at a public ceremony at Cite du Vin, Bordeaux on April 28 before being hauled out for antifouling in May ahead of a final test sail to Falmouth at the beginning of June.
Australian Mark Sinclair plans to be reunited with his Lello 34 Coconut, at the end of April. The yacht arrived in the UK in March on the same ship that dropped fellow Australian Kevin Farebrother’s Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha in Le Havre. Mark will be based at Plymouth Haven Marina throughout May making final preparations before sailing west to Falmouth for the Suhaili 50th anniversary celebrations between June 11-14.
Still to launch
Work on American Istvan Kopar’s Tradewind 35 Puffin has been delayed by four snowstorms to have hit his Oyster Bay base on Long Island New York during the past month, but he expects to set out on his first ocean test to Bermuda in mid-April.
“My schedule has been extremely overloaded. We are currently fitting a wind generator and solar panels and I am working on my safety gear and provisioning.”
Istvan plans to set sail for Bermuda accompanied by his team manager Ian Gumprecht to minimize the risks during this first offshore sea trial across the Gulf Stream before continuing across the Atlantic solo to Southampton where he will pick up new sails and finish the tune up.
Italian skipper Francesco Cappelletti has used crowd funding successfully to raise money for new masts to convert his Endurance 35 007 from sloop to ketch rig. Based in Pisa, work on the yacht continues with a planned launch at the end of April.
Dutch entrant Mark Slats says that he is now fully recovered from his record breaking Transatlantic row back in December, Mark and his project manager Dick Koopmans expect to complete the refit of his Rustler 36 Maverick and relaunch her during the last week of April ready to be rigged, and start sailing trials.
“We’ve completed all strengthening work, filled in the windows to stop any leaks, and are now working flat out to be ready for the start”
In between, Mark has been on a speaking tour around Holland publicising the GGR, and this week, has an invitation to lunch with the King and Queen of the Netherlands.
US/Palestinian Nabil Amra reports that work has now resumed at the Falmouth Boat Co to complete his Biscay 36 Ele May in time for his arrival in the UK on April 21. Having just resigned from his job as a foreign exchange trader on the Minnesota Stock exchange, Nabil has a last fundraising event in his home city on April 9 and after some precautionary dental treatment, intends to start sea trials, perform the jury rig test and complete his 2,000 solo qualification miles before the Suhaili 50 Falmouth Parade of Sail on June 14.
Are Wiig is looking forward to the ice melting. The Norwegian has been working on his OE 32 Olleanna ashore over the winter months and plans to set sail from Oslo on the 900-mile leg to Falmouth at the end of May.
Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen is another waiting for the ice to melt. Work on his Gaia 36 Asteria is nearing completion at the Nordic Refit Centre in Larsmo. The hull has been stripped inside and out and strengthened, and both interior and deck rebuilt, making this 1965 vintage Sparkman & Stephens design as near to a new boat as possible. Her relaunch is planned at the beginning of May and Tapio will use the voyage down to Falmouth as her proving trial.
French skipper Loic Lepage says that everything should be ready to relaunch his Nicholson 32 yacht Laaland at the end of April. “The set-up for the race is going well. I've just bought new sails, liferaft and beacons and am now gathering food supplies for the race. I will be test sailing in the Bay of Biscay throughout May and plan to arrive in Falmouth around June 8.”
Russian entrant Igor Zaretskiy is now in the final phase of preparing his Endurance 35 Esmeralda ready to re-launch in Alicante Spain later this week. Team spokesman Rasim Poloskin reports: “The boat refit has fallen behind the schedule, but finally we have our new sails and the yacht has been re-rigged. We are now working on the emergency tiller and jury rig system.
Igor is now taking a crash course on HF communication and Our Facebook followers are helping him with this. They have already get in contact with Terre & Mer Ham radio community, and are also trying to organise a Russian speaking HAM network around the Globe. Igor’s English is still an issue. So we are working out how to get a bit more than just position and weather reports from him for our Russian audience.”
Once launched, Igor will complete his jury rig trials then sail from Alicante to Les Sables d’Olonne and on to Falmouth for the Suhaili 50 Parade of sail celebrations.
British solo circumnavigator Robin Davie knows he is in a race against time to get his Rustler 36 C'est La Vie ready for the start on July 1. He had planned to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne early in March to step a spare mast bought from Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, but as Easter approached, he was still in Falmouth surrounded in glassfibre dust, busily completing the restoration work on his yacht. “I’ve built a plywood doghouse to give me some protection, but still need to give it a glassfibre covering and bond it in place over the companionway hatch, as well as finish off the hull. I now have to re-launch in mid-April come-what-may.”
Having sailed more than 2,000 miles under jury rig around Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands during the 1994 BOC Challenge, Davie has been excused making the jury rig test on C'est La Vie, and is determined to spend the rest of April and May test sailing out in the Bay of Biscay and be race ready by the start.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is busy preparing his yacht Suhaili to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his departure from Falmouth at the start of the original Golden Globe race back in 1968, during a 3-day jamboree between June 11 -14.
One noticeable absentee among the historic yachts scheduled to attend, is Joshua, the yacht that French hero Bernard Moitessier sailed in the same race. Now a national treasure, her movements are strictly controlled and government officials have not given permission for her to sail outside of French waters. None are more disappointed than the ‘Friends of Joshua’, the dedicated group who maintain and sail the yacht as a working museum display in La Rochelle – so much so that they are sailing over in their own boats to join in the celebrations anyway.
Joshua’s place alongside Suhaili at the head of the 2–hour Parade of Sail around Falmouth Harbour on Thursday June 14 will now be taken up by Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV, the path-finding yacht that proved for the first time that small boats can survive in the Southern ocean. Chichester went on to become the first to make a solo one-stop circumnavigation. Gipsy Moth will also mark the leeward end of the line at the start of the SITRaN Challenge race from Falmouth to Les Sables d’Olonne commencing straight after the Parade of Sail.
Joshua is still expected to take part in the start of the 2018 Golden Globe race from Les Sables d’Olonne on July 1.