Guy Waites has been achieving some impressive daily speeds, but will the Golden Globe Race sailor make it to the Hobart gate before the deadline on the 31 January 2023?
Guy Waites, who is currently in the Chichester Class for sailors who make one stop in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, says he is determined to keep sailing solo around the world, even if he fails to meet the deadline for reaching the Hobart Gate.
Under race rules, Waites and his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha, must reach Hobart by 31 January 2023 in order to be able to continue towards Cape Horn. If not, the UK skipper will be out of the Golden Globe Race.
Golden Globe Race chairman, Don McIntyre confirmed to Yachting Monthly that this will mean that all safety communications and watches have to be taken over by his team.
Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MCC) around the world will be notified that he is retired from the race and no longer in the safety book, and the race organisers will not be involved in any safety plan.
‘It is considered too risky to round Cape Horn too late in the season, so 31 January is the cut off for all entrants. They then cannot restart until 1 December 2023 as Voyager Class [entrants] have no usual GGR restrictions, so sat phones, GPS, weather routing etc is allowed. The GGR does not provide safety cover for Voyager Class. Chichester entrants missing the [Hobart] gate are out of the event. Retired. That takes effect once Guy passes the longitude of Hobart no matter what date, so we cover till then only,’ explained McIntyre.
Waites said it was ‘very likely’ that he wouldn’t make the Hobart Gate deadline, and may consider missing out Hobart in order to reach Cape Horn in time.
‘I need to be there [Hobart] by the 31st which is another 11 days away. I think it’s more like two weeks away [before I reach Hobart]. So, at the moment, if I can continue to make good progress every day then I think I’ll be there [Hobart] for probably the 4 February. Either way, my plan is to continue. With the speed I’m making, I think I can get around Cape Horn before the end of March; and that is probably about as late as you want to leave it. The main thing is to stay focused every day and keep the boat moving as quickly as I can, keep everything in one piece and make it round the Horn and start heading for home. There’s a lot still to be achieved by circumnavigating in spite of the one stop so, I’m happy to keep going and it’s a great experience. It’s not often in life that you get these chances, but you’ve got to make the most of them when they come along,’ he said.
Waites is keeping himself motivated by focussing on Sagarmatha’s daily speed, which is currently around 6 knots, helping the Scarborough sailor to cover 130-140 miles a day. He is just days away from passing Cape Leeuwin.
‘I’m logging my mileage every single day with the Walker Log, although it doesn’t allow for ocean current. I’m trying to make the boat go as quickly as I can. Everyday, I ask myself the same three questions: am I going in the right direction? Have I got the right sails up and are they well trimmed? I’m trying to race as much as I can, even though I’m not really included in the Golden Globe Race anymore,’ explained Waites.
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The singlehanded skipper stopped in Cape Town to lift out Sagarmatha, in order to remove the carpet of gooseneck barnacles which had grown on the hull. Waites admits that he hasn’t put a camera over the side to check if they’ve returned, as the boat has been sailing so well.
He has had the opportunity to use his small vane on his Hydrovane self-steering system, testing it in 35-40 knots.
Waites is the only skipper in the fleet to have three vanes for his windvane steering – a larger one for light winds, a standard vane, and then a smaller one for heavy weather.
Before leaving the UK for the race start, Guy Waites got a spare standard vane cut down by a local metal fabricating company. He believes this smaller vane puts less strain on the self-steering mechanism.
‘When you’ve got really strong winds above 40 knots, the windvane itself can slam from side to side, which really exerts a lot of force on it. The small vane will work in anything 20 knots and above. I’ve used it in 35 to 40 knots a couple of times, that is both upwind and downwind. Just after Cape Town, I had a pretty strong blow and used it downwind, then broad reaching and running, and it works absolutely fine. It seems to handle the conditions very well. I think it’s a worthwhile addition for anyone who’s contemplating the GGR. It also means I’ve got a spare vane if anything happens to the other two.’
Waites is joined in the race’s Chichester Class by South African, Jeremy Bagshaw, who has just left Hobart after stopping to lift out his OE23, Olleanna.
The boat was covered in gooseneck barnacles, and these have now been removed; Bagshaw also re-provisioned.
On his way out of Storm Bay, he passed fellow entrant Ian Herbert-Jones, who crossed the Hobart Gate two days ago, the 6th entrant to do so.
The UK sailor, like many of the entrants, struggled with light winds on approach to Hobart.
He has spent a few days moored in Storm Bay working through a job list of ‘minor things’ on the boat and resting, and is expected to leave shortly.
Herbert-Jones said he was 100% comfortable with his Tradewind 35, Puffin, although he was still getting used to sailing in heavy weather.
‘She doesn’t give me any worries in heavy weather; I don’t worry about the rig. I am still getting used to the heavy weather. Every gale is different. It is getting the boat set up initially so she is comfortable in heavy weather, after that, I am fine,’ he said.
Herbert-Jones, who only started sailing Puffin solo in May 2021, installed a water-tight hatch in his companionway which ‘has worked well’; he also replaced the table in the saloon with a large box for emergency equipment which divides the cabin, and allowed him to install a ‘business class compartment’, made from newly installed stainless steel grab poles and acrylic canvas, which has kept this part of the boat very dry.
The 52-year-old sailor from Shropshire, England, said he still has plenty of food onboard. There are also few barnacles growing on the antifouling on Puffin‘s hull.
He is, however, having to keep on top of mould growth. Puffin was sailed to fourth place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race by Istvan Kopar, who battled with black mould after the boat flooded during a knockdown and he was unable to ventilate the boat in the Southern Ocean.
‘The mould is still there,’ said Herbert-Jones. ‘There only needs to be the tiniest cranny for it to find a place. I empty the lockers and clean it out, but it never goes away. And, I am a big ventilator but it [black mould] still keeps coming.’
He said he had ‘messed up’ with the number of cassettes he has onboard. ‘I have just six cassettes, and I only listen to three of then. That has been a big miss. Listening to music is a really big treat!’.
Herbert-Jones, who is looking forward to crossing another ocean, said his only complaint after sailing half way around the world was that he has developed tennis elbow in both arms.
Meanwhile Elliot Smith, who retired from the race due to problems with his bowsprit on his Gale Force 34, Second Wind, has now arrived safely in Fremantle, Australia, where his team will assess the boat.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 20 January 2022 at 1200 UTC
Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
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
Elliot Smith, (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
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