As the fleet leaders crossed the Equator over the weekend, the computer tracking gives Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB an 18 mile lead over fellow Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede with Dutchman Mark Slats trailing in third.
But computers track straight courses – in this case from the Cape Verde Islands to the Cape of Good Hope – taking no account of the South Atlantic High pressure system, which these sailors must skirt around before getting down into the Roaring Forty latitudes.
So who of these three is better placed?
Slats’ Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick is almost 1,000 miles west from the main body of the fleet and 36 miles south of Péché who is charting a middle route down the Atlantic with Van Den Heede’s Matmut further east and with 37 miles less southing. The Dutchman’s hope is that the southeast trade winds will turn further east during the next couple of days, to give him a one or two day jump on his rivals.
Jean-Luc reported today that nothing had broken on his boat since the start and that he was picking up excellent weather forecasts from the Ham radio net. He also reported that he had not experienced any rain since the start, in marked difference to most others in the fleet including Slats who used a downpour today to replenish his drinking water.
Other potentials winners this week include Britain’s Susie Goodall (Rustler 36 DHL Starlight) whose birthday present was a move up to 4th place, and Estonian Uku Randmaa who has jumped from 7th to 5th. Goodall made the most of unexpected calms this morning to dive overboard and scrub the bottom of the boat. “It turns out that I left my deck brush on the dockside back in Les Sables d’Olonne, so I’ve had to use the brush I use for cleaning dishes.” She joked during a call to Race HQ today
The losers look to be Norwegian Are Wiig (OE 32 Olleanna) down from 4th to 6th, Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin (Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance) and Australian Mark Sinclair (Lello 34 Coconut) who has slipped 10 miles behind Frenchman Loïc Lepage’s Nicholson 32 Laaland during the past week.
Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen sailing the Gaia 36 Asteria, (8th), Russian Igor Zaretskiy in his Endurance 35 Esmeralda (9th) and Indian Abhilash Tomy sailing the Suhaili replica Thuriya (10th) have all maintained their fleet positions despite the calms of the Doldrums moving south to envelope all those in mid fleet.
Istvan Kopar reinstated to the Golden Globe class
A decision was made on Friday 27th July to reinstate the US/Hungarian sailor Istvan Kopar to the Golden Globe Class after he stopped in the Cape Verde Islands to repair the wind vane self-steering system on his Tradewind 35 Puffin.
On 17th July Kopar, who had been complaining of problems with his self-steering since the start from Les Sables d’Olonne on July 1st, called Don McIntyre, the Race Chairman, on his satellite phone reserved for emergency use and direct communication with Race HQ, to declare that he would be pulling in to the Cape Verde Islands and accepted that he would be demoted to the Chichester Class. He subsequently asked for a message to be passed to his team manager to order a new wind vane and have it shipped to the Islands. He also requested navigation advice on the best port to proceed to.
Two days later, Istvan appears to have had second thoughts about making a stop. A new wind vane could not be delivered before 31st July and he may have received advice via the HAM radio net proffered from the manufacturer on how to repair his existing vane.
What is known is that Kopar dropped anchor in Mindeo port at 06:00 UTC on 23rd July and departed again at 2100 UTC on 24th July. The Race Organisers accept that Istvan did not go ashore nor received any outside assistance during this period. He accepted his new status as a Chichester Class sailor but asked the organisers to reconsider his position, citing that his decision-making process had been impaired by stress caused by lack of sleep and that no material advantage had been gained from the stop-over.
In the spirit of the Golden Glone Race, the Race Organisers agreed instead to impose a 24-hour time penalty for inappropriate use of his satellite phone and the outside assistance gained from the navigation advice he received.
Kopar remains at the back of the GGR fleet, and like Frenchman Antoine Cousot (Biscay 36 Métier Intérim) who was relegated to the Chichester Class after stopping for two days in the Canary Islands, is currently trapped in the Doldrums.
1. Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
1 Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
by Barry Pickthall / GGR