With over 67,000 sailing miles under his belt, Canadian skipper Edward Walentynowicz is hoping to finish in the top half of the 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet. He shares how he is preparing for the race
Edward Walentynowicz, 68, will be a formidable challenger in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
He started sailing in the Baltic Sea while he was a university student in Poland in 1974, and since then has sailed more than 67,000 miles including 35,000 miles offshore and seven Atlantic crossings.
A marine and industrial automation electrical engineer, Edward says sailing is his ‘life long hobby’.
He owns the 30ft Express 30M, Acapella IV, which he sails out of Armdale Yacht Club in his home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He has also sailed non-stop across the Atlantic and back in the yacht. The 59-day voyage earned him the Recreational Event of The Year award from the Canadian Yachting Association.
For the Golden Globe Race 2022, Edward Walentynowicz will be sailing the Rustler 36 masthead sloop, Noah’s Jest.
Built in 1990, the boat has been refitted at Rustler Yachts in Falmouth, with further refit work carried out at the East River Shipyard in Nova Scotia.
Edward sailed Noah’s Jest solo and non-stop from Les Sables d’Olonne in France to Halifax, Nova Scotia to qualify for the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
He will need to be back in Europe by the beginning of August to take part in the prologue to the race and the SITran Challenge race from Gijón, Spain to Les Sables d’Olonne which starts on 6 August 2022.
Why enter the 2022 Golden Globe Race?
Edward Walentynowicz: Like many, I dreamed about sailing around the world solo, nonstop, for a long time and the Golden Globe Race is a perfect sport event to fulfil my dream!
A long time ago after an encounter with hurricane force winds above 90 knots while sailing a 14-ton 45-footer, I used to say, that I would never sail across Atlantic Ocean on any boat smaller then 40-foot.
I did not keep that promise and sailed four times across the Atlantic on much smaller boat – a 30-footer weighing only 3 tons – so now I am going to sail on a 36-footer around the world.
I feel that racers will be very well looked after by the knowledgeable organisers led by Don McIntyre, with great support from the enthusiastic French community represented by Les Sables d’Olonne mayor Yannick Moreau.
What did you learn from the 2018 Golden Globe Race?
Edward Walentynowicz: I learned that even with very good preparation, you can encounter unpredictable events.
For example: would you have predicted that somebody’s life could depend on a knot, which is what happened to Susie Goodall [her drogue failed on the manufactured Flemish loop on the rode in the Southern Ocean]
I believe that she was very well prepared and could have done very well without the problems with her windvane and drogue [Her Monitor windvane was bent during knockdowns in the Southern Indian Ocean and she has to hand steer to keep her Rustler 36 DHL Starlight stern-to the waves].
Losing her mast at Point Nemo was bad luck, it couldn’t have happened in a worse place.
Another point is that it is not very easy to decide when to switch from racing to survival mode.
There are many other things one could learn from the 2018 Golden Globe Race, but most important for me was Sir Robin Knox’s Johnston’s report [into the knockdowns during the 2018 Golden Globe Race], which has confirmed my approach to heavy weather sailing.
What storm tactics do you plan to use?
Edward Walentynowicz: For this race I will have a small storm jib and the warps compatible with my boat.
I will use Bernard Moitessier’s tactics for steering in waves [to keep running]. Additionally, I will take a special Jordan Series Drogue in case of emergency.
Have you practiced those tactics?
Edward Walentynowicz: Yes. I have practiced similar storm tactics on every one of my Atlantic crossings. I have never run with bare poles, even in 90+ knots of wind.
What did you learn from Jean-Luc Van Den Heede‘s win in the 2018 Golden Globe Race?
Edward Walentynowicz: This is a very good question. He has tonnes of experience in solo racing, and I have analysed every piece of information available about his preparations for the 2018 Golden Globe Race.
I totally agree with using a short mast [Jean-Luc Van Den Heede shortened the mast of his Rustler 36, Matmut by 1.5m for the 2018 GGR] in order to optimise performance and reduce the risk of capsize.
In fact, my boat Noah’s Jest is a ‘sister boat’ of Matmut (now Southern Man owed by a great racer Graham Dalton).
Why did you choose a Rustler 36 for the 2022 Golden Globe Race?
Edward Walentynowicz: I signed up for the Golden Globe Race 2022 very late in January 2020, so I’ve had to act swiftly to have any chance of being ready for the start line.
I felt that there was no time to do research on suitable boats, but I noted that Rustler 36s did very well in 2018 Golden Globe Race [Out of the five boats to finish, three were Rustler 36s].
When I checked on the availability of boats, I found only one Rustler 36 with a keel stepped mast in the UK.
I bought Noah’s Jest a week before Canada was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to my plans, I was unable to get back to my boat for 14 months after that due to the COVID-19 situation.
I was lucky to have my boat transferred from Plymouth to Falmouth’s Rustler Shipyard on the last day before the UK COVID-19 lockdown.
The shipyard agreed to start the deck and hull refit as soon as they were allowed to reopen.
How are you preparing Noah’s Jest for the 2022 race?
Edward Walentynowicz: Noah’s Jest is a 32-year-old boat and required a total refit of the hull and deck for the Golden Globe Race.
This was done at the Rustler Shipyard in Falmouth, UK, under the guidance of marine surveyor Will Copeland on my behalf.
I had to wait over a year to be able to move my boat from the UK to France, which I did in May 2021. New rigging and a mast from Sparcraft and sails from Voilerie Tarot were installed on the boat by Jerome Laguette (Voilerie Tarot in Les Sables d’Olonne). He has also made sails adjustments.
Since returning the boat to Halifax, I have been working on electrical and communication systems as well as refitting the inside of the yacht.
The East River Shipyard removed teak from the cockpit and made some repairs to the rudder. Many other Notice of Race related tasks are in the works.
My friend from Ottawa, the very experienced sailor Maciek Smaga, has built a hard dodger and he is now in Halifax to help with final race preparations.
Two of my other sailing buddies have also been involved in my race preparation. I also had some help from staff and members of Armdale Yachting Club in Halifax.
My boat is going back to Rustler Shipyard in Falmouth for minor repairs and a check up before the race.
The marine and rigging Golden Globe Race survey will be also done in Falmouth.
A final sails adjustment will be carried out in Les Sables d’Olonne.
What will your sail plan be?
Edward Walentynowicz: My sail plan is determined by race marks and having to sail to four photo gates, so there is very little room for any tactics.
Perhaps the only space for tactics is on the return leg up the North Atlantic.
Are you looking to win or get round?
Edward Walentynowicz: There are quite a few racers and professional sailors in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
I am not a racer nor a professional sailor.
My experience on southern hemisphere sailing consists of only two-months sailing on bigger boats, but I signed up to the Golden Globe Race because I think I have enough overall experience to go around solo.
I hope to get safely to the finish line and to place in the first half of the pack.
For this race there will be no HAM radio transmissions allowed only registered, licensed maritime-approved HF Single Side Band (SSB) Radio, with discussions limited to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) weather. Weather Fax will be allowed for the race. Some of the 2018 Golden Globe Race skippers raised concerns about picking up GMDSS in the Southern Ocean. Do you share these concerns?
Nevertheless, disallowing HAM radio frequencies and having everybody use official marine weather forecasts stations levels the field.
Unfortunately, due to new technologies used in navigation nowadays, there are not too many SSB broadcasts and weather fax stations left around the Southern Ocean.
In this situation one must relay on observation and sail on.
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Jean-Luc Van Den Heede consulted meteorologists and studied the weather to choose the best route which helped him make early gains in the 2018 race. Do you plan to do the same?
Edward Walentynowicz: It would be nice to have meteorologist consultations, but I do not have this option available.
I have studied the weather for this circumnavigation over the last two years and I think that I have a pretty good idea what to expect.
How is your celestial navigation going?
Edward Walentynowicz: I used celestial navigation for the first time over 38 years ago, while sailing across the Atlantic to Halifax from Poland and back, as there was no GPS available back then.
Last year I passed the RYA certification exam, which included celestial navigation.
I am an engineer and celestial navigation calculations are easy for me.
I also practiced celestial navigation during my Golden Globe Race qualifier [All entrants have to sail 2,000 miles nonstop using their windvane steering and celestial navigation], and I am quite confident in doing it well.
Have you finished your 2000-mile qualifying passage? What did you learn from it?
Edward Walentynowicz: My qualifying passage was sailing from Les Sables d’Olonne, France to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada last year.
It was my first 4,000 miles on a Rustler 36.
I found that Noah’s Jest is very safe, but somewhat slow.
It was my longest Atlantic crossing ever, partially due to light winds and having to wait for hurricane Henry to make a final move, so I could cross over to Nova Scotia.
Despite this lengthy sail, I felt that it was pleasurable and did not feel lonely.
What self-steering set up are you planning on using?
Edward Walentynowicz: I am going to use the Hydrovane.
Actually, I have two [Hydrovanes], and knowing that you can damage your self steering gear by hitting a floating container or some other object, I have already installed a shaft for my spare.
While I tested the Hydrovane on my other boat Acapella IV in the summer of 2020, I realised that it would be extremely difficult to install a spare shaft while racing.
What antifouling will you be using?
Edward Walentynowicz: Noah’s Jest was painted in the UK with Sea Jet, the same paint Jean-Luc Van Den Heede used on Matmut.
Since this paint is not approved in Canada, I had to use CSC Micron on my ruder which needed to be redone here.
Apparently, CSC is compatible with Sea Jet. I have used CSC Micron on other boats for a long time with great success.
Are you confident you will be on the start line for 2022?
Edward Walentynowicz: I still have lots of tasks to complete, but I hope to be ready for another Atlantic crossing from Halifax to Les Sables d’Olonne by the second week of June 2022.
Then I have some more work to be completed in Les Sables d’Olonne and Falmouth (UK) before the prologue race in August.
The schedule is very tight, but I hope to be on the start line on 4 September 2022.
A major equipment failure, or a serious health concern for me or my close family could stop me from participating in the race.
You have plenty of sailing miles. How do you think you will cope sailing solo around the world?
Edward Walentynowicz: I think that I will be busy all of the time and I will not have time to think much about being ‘solo’.
As you are not allowed modern equipment in the race, just trying to analyse the weather from allowed sources, keeping calculated positions up to date and looking after the boat and myself, will keep me very busy.
Even if I do not have any urgent work, I always stay busy. This probably protects me from being lonely.
After all, we still have SSB Radio, and I am pretty good at using it to communicate with the outside world.
Is coping with isolation an issue?
Edward Walentynowicz: Coping with isolation has never been an issue for me and I do not expect this to be a challenge.
How do you handle challenges while alone at sea?
Edward Walentynowicz: I handle challenges the same way as I do anywhere else.
With my technical background and hands on experience, I tend to solve any technical problems relatively easily as I have been doing it on my boats for over 30 years.
I am used to solving many boat related tasks on my own, so it does not bother me. I also usually perform better under stress.
What will you miss while taking part in the race?
Edward Walentynowicz: I will miss my family and friends, especially my wife Magda and my dog Amber.
What treat will you be taking?
Edward Walentynowicz: I will have some delicious and nutritious treats like Lindt’s dark chocolate with double hazelnut, Naked Berry Delight bars, lots of Expedition Foods chocolate chip biscuit pudding and perhaps other treats.
I hope to have few bottles of good Champagne to celebrate just in case I pass the famous capes.
I may have a Christmas box from my wife with special treats in it.
The 2018 Golden Globe Race was a celebration of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The GGR 2022 is a celebration of Bernard Moitessier. What words of wisdom from Moitessier will you be following in the race?
Edward Walentynowicz: Both Bernard Moitessier and Sir Robin Knox-Johnson are my sailing heroes, from whom I have learned a lot, especially from Bernard Moitessier.
In the early 1980s, my first Atlantic crossing was without GPS and I was relying on celestial navigation; when I faced waves towering over our 17m high mast, despite very little time to react, my brain went over the books I had read and stopped at The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier. He advised: “Take it 15-20° from the stern.”
I did it and it worked.
Moitessier was one of the pioneers in developing storm tactics and wrote about it in his books.
When I read The Long Way in the early seventies, I learned that warps do not work very well for 15 ton boats.
Now, having used warps on my own boats (which were less than the weight of Moitessier’s boat Joshua), I know that warps do work very well, but each boat is very different and requires specific warp arrangements, which are also dependent on the weather.
For example, my 3 ton, 30-footer Acapella IV would not have crossed Atlantic many times if I had not used warps during storms.
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