Stuck in the doldrums, 2022 Golden Globe Race skipper Ertan Beskardes has been feeling the isolation with too much time to think, as he shares with Katy Stickland
The doldrums. Sailors dread this band of windless, hot and humid weather, which can drive some to distraction, and it has been no different for the solo skippers in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
Ertan Beskardes is now moving again, and is currently 8th in the fleet, and expecting to cross the equator later today, but for days he was barely making 2 knots at times in his Rustler 36, Lazy Otter.
‘There is really nothing to do. It is 30°c and the biggest problem is boredom. There are no regular wind or waves. Life becomes very, very uncomfortable. You are trying to move the boat forwards all of the time and you are damaging gear all the time. You are trying to do 1-2 knots and working the sails and the Hydrovane windvane steering all day and all night. The most I have managed is 10-15 minutes in one direction so you are constantly tacking and gybing, tacking and gybing. It does become very tiring,’ said Beskardes, who also took part in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.
Sailing through the doldrums has also taken its toll on the boat.
‘I have damaged my mainsail which I’ve repaired, damaged my spinnakers because the sails are banging all the time as there is only about 3 knots of wind. I have changed all the genoa sheets because they have chafed through on the metal guardrails. So I keep doing these little things,’ he said.
‘There are no marinas to go in and say ‘I quit’ so you have to go forward, and as soon as you have a good day, you forget about the bad ones. I am looking for good days. It is not tradewind sailing, which I’ve yet to see,’ said the 60-year-old, who learnt to sail in the Bosphorus while growing up in Turkey.
Beskardes is also trying to manage a significant electrical failure onboard, after a small fire a week after the start. He can now only charge his batteries via wind and solar power; his engine starting battery is unaffected.
‘Most of the time I am running completely blind. The only thing I use my batteries for is to charge my sat phone and my Yellowbrick tracker. If there is no wind, I can’t get any charge from the wind generator and when it is not sunny I get no charge from the solar panels.’
A family man, Beskardes said he has had ‘too much time to think’ in the doldrums.
‘I am physically OK, it is the emotional part and not staying in touch with the family which is the really hard part. It is not so easy,’ he admitted.
He has managed to speak to two fellow competitors Jeremy Bagshaw and Guy Waites; at one point, Beskardes and Waites were just 100 yards apart – ‘We took photos of each other. It was very emotional’. He has also managed to communicate with the crew of passing ships, although there is less traffic in the doldrums.
But, Beskardes has seen plenty of wildlife – whales, dolphins and birdlife – and has experienced some interesting weather.
‘There has been a lot of lightening and it has been really close, so close that I felt it inside me. I heard a bang right next to me and then sizzling [as the lightening hit the water]. I’ve never seen that before,’ he said.
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Meanwhile, the race leaders have already crossed the equator.
UK Mini Transat veteran, Simon Curwen was the first of the Golden Globe Race skippers to cross, and has been leading the fleet since the skippers left the Bay of Biscay.
‘Crossed to the other side some time this evening. Shared fizz and choc with Neptune,’ tweeted Curwen.
Abhilsah Tomy in his Rustler 36, Bayanat was second, swiftly followed by South African sailor, Kirsten Neuschafer, who has been making impressive speeds of 170 miles a day in her Cape George 36 cutter.
‘Bayanat has breached the equator. will splice it on our way back,’ tweeted Tomy.
It was race between Irish skipper Pat Lawless and Tapio Lehtinen from Finland as to who would cross next.
Both sailors have been pushing hard to stay in the front of the pack, and having caught sight of each other, the temptation was too much.
‘Went up 2 enjoy porridge & the ocean of my own only 2 realise that I was crossing ahead of Pat. Couldn’t resist the temptation to slam dunk him,’ tweeted Lehtinen. ‘Pat is an Irish fighter, so a tacking duel ensued. Now have talked on VHF & finished the cold porridges on both boats.’
Lehtinen was the first to sail over 0° latitude.
‘Fantastic to be sailing beside Tapio today. good chats on the VHF,’ tweeted Lawless, who has an injured shoulder and a possible broken rib after the mainsheet hit him in the shoulder, throwing him inside the cockpit of his Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel.
Lawless is not the only skipper who has been suffering physically.
Both Guy Waites and Austrian sailor Michael Guggenberger have experienced swollen hands and feet due to the the humidity of the doldrums and being confined to their boats.
‘I’m dancing a lot on board to keep fit and cure my ailments!’ tweeted Guggenberger, who took boxes of cassette tapes with him when he left from Les Sables d’Olonne.
French professional sailor, Damien Guillou, who returned to Les Sables d’Olonne just days after the start to repair his Hydrovane self-steering gear, has also now crossed the equator, and is racing hard to reach the leaders.
But others are realising that their racing edge might already be blunted.
South African Jeremy Bagshaw has reported that his OE32 Oleanna was feeling sluggish. He dived over the side to find that 70% of his hull, which has been painted with Coppercoat, was covered in 2cm long gooseneck barnacles. Bagshaw, 59, has scrapped them off.
Guy Waites also discovered the same problem yesterday on his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha.
‘When the breeze filled in today Sagarmatha was very slow moving, sadly she is covered in goose barnacles,’ he tweeted.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 10 October 2022 at 0805 UTC
Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
Pat Lawless, (Ireland), Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel
Damien Guillou, (France), Rustler 36, PRB
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Ertan Beskardes, (UK), Rustler 36, Lazy Otter
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Elliot Smith, (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
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 Golden Globe Race: Down in the doldrums?
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