Golden Globe Race skippers are pushing hard to catch leader Simon Curwen, as the fleet heads further south towards Hobart

Leader of the Golden Globe Race fleet, Simon Curwen, might soon start feeling the pressure, as his fellow competitors push hard to catch him as they head towards the race gate at Hobart, Tasmania.

South African skipper Kirsten Neuschafer has averaged 179 miles a day this week in her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha, The yacht has the largest sail plan in the fleet – 806 sq ft – and still holds the 24-hour Golden Globe Race speed record of 183 miles.

Currently in second place, Neuschafer, 39, has experienced some frustration with light and variable winds.

Kirsten Neuschafer has made no secret of wanting to win the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The South African skipper has plenty of Southern Ocean sailing experience. Credit: GGR 2022

Kirsten Neuschafer has made no secret of wanting to win the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The South African skipper has plenty of Southern Ocean sailing experience. Credit: GGR 2022

‘It is pretty frustrating as the wind is coming and going. When the wind is there, it is great. I am sailing with twin headsails. They are quite a bit of work as it is a question of rigging and de-rigging the poles the whole time. I’ve hoisted the spinnaker a few times but there is not enough wind, and the wind is coming and going. I am sticking with the head sails as I can easily furl them if the wind dies,’ she said.

Earlier this week, Neuschafer sailed close along the edge of the race exclusion zone at 44° south, which all skippers have to keep to starboard.

She said a lack of sun meant she was not navigating as accurately as she hoped, admitting it was ‘a bit of a guess’, but she was trying to keep a buffer zone of 1° between the edge of the exclusion zone and her position.

A man in a blue tshirt bending over the deck of a boat

Abhilash Tomy is hoping he will finish the race within the next 120 days. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR 2022

She has also tried to clear any barnacles from the bottom of Minnehaha‘s hull, but had to cut her time in the water short after being stung on the face and hands by Indo-Pacific Man o’ War siphonophores, known as bluebottles.

‘I do have barnacles that I’ve not been able to get off. I tried to dive the other day but was getting stung by the bluebottles on my hands and my face, so I gave it up. But it is clean around the prop, but I can’t see much. It doesn’t look like I am getting more. I would like to get them off but the water is so cold now and there is a lot more swell,’ she said.

Neuschafer is around 779 miles behind Simon Curwen, who is sailing below 44° South at an average of 158 miles at day; he is still predicting that he will arrive in Hobart by 19 December 2022.

Continues below…

Just 278 miles separate Neuschafer and Abhilash Tomy.

Tomy, 43, has now passed the mark where his ERIC Suhaili Replica masthead ketch, Thuriya was dismasted in a southern Indian Ocean storm during the 2018 Golden Globe Race, which left him with a broken back and needing rescue.

‘We have exorcised our devils. The boat by rounding Good Hope and I by passing Cape Comorin at this latitude,’ he tweeted.

The former Indian Naval Commander has stayed north of 42° South this week, due to a lack of sun which is preventing him from taking sun sights for navigation. He is averaging 151 miles a day, and believes he has around 120 days of racing left.

Currently, he has 120 litres of water onboard, and is taking steps to conserve water by cooking rice in sea water.

A man wearing a cap sailing

Jeremy Bagshaw has now joined the Golden Globe Race 1,000 miles a week club. Credit: Macmedia2021/ Simon McDonnell

Jeremy Bagshaw, who is sailing the OE32, Olleanna, the smallest boat in the fleet, has smashed his seven day distance record – sailing 1,022 miles this week.

He joins Curwen, Neuschafer, Tomy, Michael Guggenberger, Pat Lawless, Damien Guillou and Tapio Lehtinen in the 1,000 mile club.

Meanwhile towards the back of the fleet, Elliot Smith has decided to sail his Gale Force 34, Second Wind further north to make the most of the upwind conditions.

Like UK skipper Ian Herbert-Jones, Smith will need to push the boat hard in the coming weeks if he is to make the 30 January 2023 deadline for the Hobart gate. If he doesn’t, he will not be allowed to start crossing the Southern Ocean until 1 December 2024.

Smith had to anchor in False Bay after passing through the Cape Town gate to make repairs to Second Wind‘s bowsprit, after it broke on one side and was bent on the other. The bobstay was also bent.

The 27-year-old American skipper spent three days making repairs, although he made no landing and received no physical support, so remains in the race.

A repair bowsprit on a boat

Elliot Smith spent three days anchored making repairs his boat’s bowsprit. Credit: Simon McDonnell/ FBYC

Commenting on the repairs, Golden Globe Race chairman, Don McIntyre, said: ‘While not perfect, our opinion is that managed correctly by the skipper, the repaired bowsprit is not unsafe. He has addressed the compression issues and added extra security to stop it folding up again. The inner forestay supports the mast well and combined with running backstays secures the mast without consideration of the forestay when sailing with the staysail and reefed main. The furling genoa is being swapped for a smaller jib and the entire Southern Ocean legs can be sailed under staysail alone.’

Guy Waites, who is trailing the fleet due to severe barnacle growth on the hull of his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha, is hoping to reach Cape Town by the end of the week, although he has been struggling with light winds.

He will lift out the boat to remove the barnacles and then will make a decision whether he will continue in the race. If he does, he will be in the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop.

‘The next hurdle will be whether I get to Hobart in time. I am not going to make a decision on that now, it will need to be made nearer the time. I’ve already thought through the scenario that I might not be in the Golden Globe Race, but I am doing everything I can to continue,’ said the British solo sailor.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 2 December 2022 at 1100 UTC

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Elliot Smith,  (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha


Edward Walentynowicz, (Canada), Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest
Guy deBoer, (USA), Tashiba 36, Spirit
Mark Sinclair (Australia), Lello 34, Coconut
Pat Lawless, (Ireland), Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel
Damien Guillou, (France), Rustler 36, PRB
Ertan Beskardes, (UK), Rustler 36, Lazy Otter
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
Arnaud Gaist, (France), Barbican 33 Mk 2, Hermes Phoning

Enjoyed reading Golden Globe Race: Catch the leader?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

        • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
        • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
        • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.