It was not an easy start for the 16 skippers in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, with strong headwinds making progress south slow

Strong southwesterly headwinds pounded the 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet, as the solo skippers left Les Sables d’Olonne and entered the Bay of Biscay.

A low pressure system to the west of the Celtic Sea brought 25-30 knot headwinds, causing an early split in the fleet.

Finnish skipper Tapio Lethtinen and Damien Guillou of France were leading a handful of the fleet westwards, beating into the weather, while others, like Irish sailor, Pat Lawless, South Africa’s Kirsten Neuschaffer and the UK’s Simon Curwen led the majority of the fleet  south towards the Galician coastline, where conditions were milder, although they are still battling with confused seas and 15-20 knot winds.

GGR skipper Ertan BEskardes waves to the crowds. Strong headwinds at the start made it difficult for many of the skippers

UK skipper Ertan Beskardes was knocked unconscious after falling into his cockpit. Credit: GGR/Nora Havel

Former Indian Commander, Abhilash Tomy, who is racing in the Rustler 36, Bayanet, described it as ‘washing machine conditions’.

He is back racing in his second Golden Globe Race, having been dismasted in the 2018 event, which left him with a broken back and needing rescue from the Southern Ocean.

Wind holes for those who headed south are also causing frustration.

Kirsten Neuschafer, aboard her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha, tweeted: ‘Very frustrating. No wind and big residual sea state. Tough start and not good for morale. Otherwise OK.’

Tapio Lehtinen was the one of the first skippers to decide to sail into the strong headwinds and has now turned south towards Cape Finisterre. Credit: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

Tapio Lehtinen was the one of the first skippers to decide to sail into the strong headwinds and has now turned south towards Cape Finisterre. Credit: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

The 39-year-old skipper is a favourite for a podium position, with many of the other skippers commenting on her Southern Ocean experience (she previously worked for Skip Novak), and her fast boat, which has 806 sq ft of sails, the largest in the fleet.

Guy Waites, a former Clipper Race skipper, was also exasperated by the lack of wind, although he has managed to retain his sense of humour.

‘Round and round the Bay of Biscay like a SITraN bear, one step forward, one step back, wind holes everywhere!’ he tweeted.

The weather has already claimed some casualties.

Continues below…

French favourite, Damien Guillou is already heading back to Les Sables d’Olonne after problems with his Hydrovane self-steering system on his Rustler 36, PRB.

While sailing through 30 knot winds in 3-4 metre waves, he noticed movement in the windvane’s rudder, which threatened the attachment of the blade to the boat’s transom. It meant he could no longer use the windvane, for fear of it being ripped off.

The 39-year-old skipper is allowed under race rules to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to make repairs, although he must restart by 11 September 2022, or face being relegated into the Chichester Class for boats which make one stop.

A man wearing a blue t shirt on a boat waving to another boat

Pat Lawless believes his Saltram Saga 36 is one of the fastest boats in the fleet, and looks set to be one of the first skippers to round Cape Finisterre. Credit: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

Other skippers have also suffered equipment failure.

American Guy DeBoer has lost all HF/VHF communication aboard his Tashiba 36, Spirit, and has also suffered seasickness.

UK skipper Ertan Beskardes has also had his fair share of problems aboard his Rustler 36, Lazy Otter.

He had electrical issues after a short circuit onboard and decided to head further south before making repairs.

Yesterday, he was knocked unconscious after his boat fell off a wave, causing the 60-year-old to fall into the cockpit, hitting his head and injuring his arm. He was working on deck at the time.

Golden Globe Race HQ was advised and he was being monitored by the race’s MSOS 24hr telemedicine doctors.

Beskardes, who also took part in the 2018 race, anchored off Gijon in Spain, which he is allowed to do under the race rules, to rest for a few hours, before continuing with the race.

The latest tracking information from 0800 UTC in 8 September 2022, show the split in the fleet. Credit: GGR/Yellow Brick Tracker

The latest tracking information from 0800 UTC in 8 September 2022, show the split in the fleet. Credit: GGR/Yellow Brick Tracker

Pat Lawless aboard his Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel looks set to be one of the first of the skippers to round Cape Finisterre, before heading to the race’s first photo gate at Lanzarote.

Ex-Mini Transat racer Simon Curwen is close on his heels, although he is choosing to sail his Biscay 36, Clara, closer to the Spanish coast. Abhilash Tomy has also tacked to chase the leader.

Tapio Lehtinen, who placed 5th in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, is now sailing toward Cape Finisterre, having spent days beating into strong headwinds and heavy seas aboard his Gaia 36 cutter, Asteria. Behind him are UK sailor Ian Herbert-Jones and Australian Mark Sinclair, while French skipper Arnaud Gaist, 50, has headed far north to escape the weather.

Meanwhile Canadian Edward Walentynowicz is considering retiring from the race for personal reasons. He has told Race HQ that he will ring his wife before making any decision.

If he decides to continue racing his Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest, then he will receive an 18 hour time penalty for making the call.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 8 September 2022 at 0800 UTC

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Pat Lawless, (Ireland), Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Ertan Beskardes, (UK), Rustler 36, Lazy Otter
Guy deBoer, (USA), Tashiba 36, Spirit
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Elliot Smith,  (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Edward Walentynowicz, (Canada), Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest
Mark Sinclair (Australia), Lello 34, Coconut
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Arnaud Gaist, (France), Barbican 33 Mk 2, Hermes Phoning
Damien Guillou, (France), Rustler 36, PRB

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