Tactics are differing widely as the Golden Globe Race skippers head for the South Atlantic

The Golden Globe Race entrants are split down the middle when it comes to choosing their route to the South Atlantic.

As they beat their way through the South East Trades towards the Roaring Forties, Dutchman Mark Slats has chosen a more easterly course and is now the furthest south of the fleet – 800 miles west of the leader, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede.

This will enable him to skirt around the South Atlantic High pressure system, which is likely to determine who could lead the race, and he is already sailing his Rustler 36, Ohpen Maverick in a stronger, more favourable northwesterly airstream and making 7knots – 1.5knots faster than his rivals.

‘ALL OK, NICE WINDS AND I CAN MAKE SOME EAST JE’HA!’ was the message Slats sent to Race HQ on Sunday.

Meanwhile French skippers Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Philippe Péché are taking a more central route down the Atlantic.

Péché, who has been out in front from the start, has been pushed into second place by the 73-year-old Van Den Heede over the weekend, and just 100 miles separate them in terms of longitude.

Both, however, could soon run out of steam, having become caught on the western side of the South Atlantic High and are sailing into light airs.

A Golden Globe Race skipper sitting on his yacht at the race start

Uku Randmaa is currently in third place. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

The remaining fleet is equally divided on their tactics.

Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin (Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance), India’s Abhilash Tomy (Suhaili replica Thuriya), Frenchman Loïc Lepage (Nicholson 32 Laaland) and Australian Mark Sinclair (Lello 34 Coconut) are all following Slats’ example, while Estonia’s Uku Randmaa (Rustler 36 One and All), Norwegian Are Wiig (OE 32 Olleanne), Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen (Gaia 36 Asteria) and Russian Igor Zaretskiy (Endurance 35 Esmeralda) are continuing down the shorter easterly route.

Only Britain’s Susie Goodall (Rustler 36 DHL Starlight) is making the break from east to west.

As to be expected, the Golden Globe Race fleet have also has their fair share of equipment headaches.

Istvan Kopar has been reinstated to the Golden Globe class having initially been relegated to the Chichester Class after informing the Race HQ he was stopping in the Cape Verde Islands to repair the windvane self-steering system on his Tradewind 35 Puffin.

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However, he had second thought when it transpired that a new windvane would take too long to be delivered. Race organisers say he also 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, siting 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,’ said the Golden Globe Race in a media release.

‘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,’ it added.

Meanwhile Gregor McGuckin has been forced to climb to the top of his mast to fix a broken halyard.

Frenchman Antoine Cousot, who is in the Chichester Class following his stop in the Canaries, twisted his ankle while changing headsails on the foredeck. He also reported engine issues.

Engine difficulties has also been plaguing Tapio Lehtinen who has informed Race HQ that his new engine with just 49 hours of running time stops after 5 seconds.He is also struggling with his solar panels aboard Asteria, which are not working effectively.

Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has been suffering similar problems with some of the solar panels on his Rustler 36, Matmut, but still has his water generator and engine to keep batteries charged.

A Golden Globe Race sailor looks at a chart

Mark Sinclair plots his next course. Credit: Mark Sinclair/GGR/PPL

Igor Zaretskiy, who had to make major repairs to the mainsheet system on his Endurance 35 Esmeralda, has also been suffering from steering issues.

Australian Mark Sinclair has harnessed the power of the heavy winds aboard his Lello 34 by trailing the halyards behind the boat to change headsails.

For all the skippers water is becoming a serious concern with many of them drinking around 100 litres during their first month at sea.

The gale force winds and squalls they have been experiencing south of the Equator have not delivered the usual rain showers in the South East Trades or in the Doldrums.

Position report at 08:00 UCT Day 37

Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)Rustler 36 Matmut
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
Are Wiig (NOR) OE 32 Olleanna
Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Mark Slats (NED)Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut
Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin

Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim

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