Australian GGR skipper Mark Sinclair has retired from the 2022 Golden Globe Race citing family reasons. His Lello 34 has stopped in Lanzarote

Mark Sinclair, the only Australian skipper in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, has decided to retire in Lanzarote.

He was one of 16 sailors to cross the start line in Les Sables d’Olonne less than three weeks ago.

Speaking from his Lello 34 masthead sloop, Coconut, he revealed he always planned to stop at the race’s second photo drop in Cape Town in order to attend his son’s wedding. This would have put him in the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop.

GGR skipper Mark Sinclair only finished his 2018 GGR 100 days before the start of the 2022 event. Credit: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

GGR skipper Mark Sinclair only finished his 2018 GGR 100 days before the start of the 2022 event. Credit: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

However, strong southwesterly headwinds in the Bay of Biscay meant his start was much slower than expected.

‘It [was] a slow start, much slower than I planned and I need to be a week ahead of my last trip to make a rendezvous in Cape Town to attend my son’s wedding [..] I am running a week behind [so getting to Cape Town on time] is not going to happen,’ explained Sinclair, who added that he also hadn’t seen his family for nearly a year and there are outstanding health issues he needs to attend to.

‘Biscay was a tough exit – I screwed it up last time and I screwed it up this time,’ he noted.

A self steering system on the back of a boat

Mark Sinclair chose an Aries windvane steering system for his Lello 34. Credit: Katy Stickland

The 63-year-old finished his 2018 Golden Globe Race 100 days before starting the 2022 event, having originally sailed from France to Adelaide in 2018, making port due to barnacle growth on the hull and a lack of water.

He waited three years to restart the race in the Chichester Class.

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Coconut suffered knockdowns around Cape Horn and he arrived in Les Sables d’Olonne after 174 days with a damaged forestay, staysail inner forestay, and problems with his ageing Berryman engine, which has now been replaced with a lighter and more powerful Yanmar engine. He also acquired a staysail and genoa used by the winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Jean-Luc Van den Heede, which increased the Lello 34’s sail area by 30%.

Sinclair said the lack of preparation time meant some small jobs on the boat still needed doing.

A white ball with a red face on it on a boat

Wilson [left] was given to Mark Sinclair by his son for good luck. Credit: Katy Stickland

‘The 2018 GGR was a fantastic thing and enabled me to sail around the world and sail around Cape Horn and get my burgee from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The participation in this one has been fantastic. But, I’ve not had a day off in the last 100 days and that is part of it too. There are lots of little things on the boat that need doing, like servicing the winches. They are all minor things but when put them all together with respect to a wedding, family, some surgery I need to have, I think, let’s put the cards on the table and make the best of it,’ said Sinclair, who is affectionately known as Captain Coconut.

‘I am saddened to be leaving the race but excited I have a boat that can go almost anywhere full of food and stores, I just have to decide which route I choose to get back to Australia. The downwind leg to Panama goes to New Caledonia and Tahiti which is tempting.’

Mark Sinclair is the third 2022 GGR skipper to retire from the race. Credit: Katy Stickland

Mark Sinclair is the third 2022 GGR skipper to retire from the race. Credit: Katy Stickland

He said retiring from the GGR was ‘a very difficult decision’, and he thanked all of his supporters around the world.

‘I feel I have let then down, all the people who helped me,’ he said. ‘I stop with no regrets and look forward to the next non-GGR element in my life, getting Coconut home without any surprises.’

A man holding a sextant on a boat

Mark Sinclair is a hydrographic consultation and former member of the Australian Navy, and has extensive solo sailing experience. Credit: Bernard Gergaud

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 23 September 2022 at 1000 UTC

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


Edward Walentynowicz, (Canada), Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest
Guy deBoer, (USA), Tashiba 36, Spirit
Mark Sinclair (Australia), Lello 34, Coconut

Enjoyed reading GGR skipper Mark Sinclair retires: 13 left in the race?

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