He’s off! De Keyser and SolarWind make Belgium proud

The second departure of the Global Solo Challenge

By Margherita Pelaschier / Global Solo Challenge

Yesterday, Sunday, September 17th, marked the departure of Edouard De Keyser, the only Belgian skipper entered in the Global Solo Challenge. Originally scheduled for Saturday, the departure was postponed to allow the team to complete some last-minute work, more easily done with the boat moored at the dock. In addition, weather conditions were unfavorable, and fatigue had accumulated during last week’s preparations. The Solarwind team worked tirelessly throughout Saturday to allow Édouard to set off more relaxed on his long journey aboard his Solaire 34, Solarwind.

During a live social media broadcast, De Keyser stated, “I chose to delay my departure mainly due to technical issues on the boat that had not been fully resolved. I was very tired yesterday and had to make a decision; after examining the weather systems and my to-do list, I preferred to delay by 24 hours.”

Marco Nannini, the event organiser, clarified, “The organization sets a departure date for competitors based on boat performance. If a competitor feels that their personal conditions, such as pre-departure stress or fatigue, or boat conditions, such as the need for additional work to ensure safety and reliability, warrant a departure delay, this option is available. Moreover, no penalty is applied, as stipulated by the GSC Regulations. A few hours of rest and technical review can save competitors days as otherwise, in case of a boat pulling into port along the route due to damage, they would be subject to a four-day penalty. On a journey around the world that will last about six months for Édouard, a day’s delay is negligible. I, therefore, believe his decision was wise.”

Hours before the departure, the sky was cloudy, and an easterly wind was blowing at 20-25 knots, stronger than predicted. The weather situation was complicated by a cyclone just off the Iberian Peninsula. Édouard chose to wait for the worst of this depression to pass, selecting a more favorable weather window for his departure. Waiting too long would have forced him to face head winds from the west and the risk of being stuck in a calm zone in the coming days. Thanks to the postponed departure, the skipper avoided Saturday’s storms and will find himself west of the depression center just a few hours into his journey, off Finisterre, heading south with diminishing sea and wind, making his initial days of navigation more manageable.”

“The organization’s RIB, with another competitor from the Global Solo Challenge, Dave Linger, and a cameraman on board, accompanied Édouard in his first miles of navigation, which will see him away from land for about six months. Unfortunately, many of his supporters had already left to return to Belgium.

In the days leading up to the departure, in La Coruña, Princess Esmeralda of Belgium was also present, supporting the sailor. De Keyser’s project provided an opportunity for institutional meetings between Spanish and Belgian authorities. The Mayor of La Coruña welcomed the Princess in an informal meeting at the City Hall, where sports and the environment were discussed. The Global Solo Challenge thus becomes an occasion to build bridges at the institutional level between different countries and cultures, with the participation of skippers from eleven different nationalities.

Continue to the GSC website

Start dates

SkipperBoat NameBoatTCCStart
Dafydd HughesBendigedigS&S 340.890STARTED 26/08/23
Ivan DimovBlue IbisEndurance 370.890DNS 26/08/23
Édouard De KeyserSolarWindSolaire 341.010STARTED 17/09/23
Louis RobeinLe Souffle de la Mer IIIX-371.02023/09/23
Philippe DelamareMowgliActual 461.08930/09/23
Pavlin NadvorniEspresso MartiniFarr 451.18821/10/23
Ari KänsäkoskiFujiClass401.20821/08/23
William MacBrienPhoenixClass401.21021/10/23
David LingerKoloa MaoliClass401.21528/10/23
Juan MeredizWaypointClass401.22528/10/23
Cole BrauerFirst LightClass401.22528/10/23
François GouinKawan 3Class401.22528/10/23
Riccardo TosettoObportusClass401.23028/10/23
Kevin Le PoidevinRoaring FortyOpen 401.24028/10/23
Peter BourkeImagineOpen 401.25028/10/23
Ronnie SimpsonSparrowOpen 501.25028/10/23
Alessandro TosettiAspraULDB 651.25028/10/23
Andrea MuraVento di SardegnaOpen 501.37018/11/23
Curt Morlock6 Lazy KOpen 601.47009/12/23
Volkan Kaan YemlihaoğluBlack BettyVolvo Open 701.64006/01/24
M.O.S.S Australia
West Systems
Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
Race Yachts
West Systems