Michael Guggenberger is currently in fourth place, around three to four weeks behind the leader of the Golden Globe Race. He is surprised to be in the last eight skippers

Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede showed that preparation was the key to taking first place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

It was a lesson Michael Guggenberger took onboard when getting ready for the 2022 event.

The Austrian solo skipper spent years getting his Biscay 36 masthead ketch, Nuri ready to race solo around the world. So far, other than an electrical issue with his engine and replacing some chaffed lines, Guggenberger has had no major problems with his boat.

His submarine-style companionway door also means Nuri is ‘bone dry’ down below, and he has no issues with water ingress.

‘I am a little bit surprised I am still here but, you know, I prepared really well. I like my position. It’s amazing how few boats are left so I am kind of amazed I am still in the race and not having any big issues,’ he explained.

2022 Golden Globe Race skipper Michael Guggenberger looking out of his submarine door on his boat

The inches-thick companionway door means Nuri is nice and dry down below. Credit: Katy Stickland

Of course, there are some minor issues: he fears he may run out of coffee and sugar before the finish, and he wishes he had packed some more seeds and nuts to put in his loaf of bread, which he bakes daily.

‘I am actually really happy. I think I brought too much of everything; I would rather have too much than too little though.’

Guggenberger, who learned to sail just over 10 years ago, is sailing the only ketch in the Golden Globe Race fleet.

In light of the rescue of fellow entrant Tapio Lehtinen, he has now changed where he stows his liferaft in heavy weather.

Initially, he decided to stow it in the forepeak of the boat, and had made a pulley system so he could haul it through the forepeak hatch to the deck of the boat in 21 seconds. The Notice of Race states that a liferaft has to be brought on deck in less than 25 seconds.

‘I tried to get it [the liferaft] out of the bow when the boat was moving and it was hard to get it out. So, I now plan to stash it in the cockpit in bad weather. I have my mizzen mast in the cockpit, so with the liferaft in there, the cockpit is full so I don’t like it to be there all the time,’ Guggenberger told Yachting Monthly.

A windvane self steering gear on a Golden Globe Race 2022 yacht

Michael Guggenberger has made the vane of his Hydrovane smaller, as it kept catching on the boom of his mizzen mast. Credit: Katy Stickland

Like nearly every other Golden Globe Race skipper, he is not receiving any information via his weather fax, although he is managing to receive weather forecasts via his radio from Western Australia and South Africa. Ultimately, he is relying on his barometer and Race HQ to inform him of any bad weather. Skippers are usually notified if storms are forecast.

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He is not finding the isolation an issue, and is keeping himself fit by exercising every day.

Sharing his daily routine, Guggenberger said: ‘I get up in the morning, around sunrise, so 0500 and I have a coffee and I check the course and check everything. If there is anything to do, I do it immediately and then I eat breakfast. After, I sit around and watch the albatross and then do my navigation. I have lunch, and then if I don’t talk to the other guys [GGR fleet HF radio schedule] I have an afternoon nap, and I read a book or listen to a lot of music. After my nap, I do some exercises: mostly I dance to music and do some exercises and then I read a bit. After dinner, I have HF chat on the radio and then some reading again and then I sleep from 2300-0500. I have not seen a ship in the last 16 days so I sleep in 2 hour chunks; I have a look around and see what the boat is doing. It depends a little bit on the weather, and if it is changing, it is less sleep. The good thing is the boat is waking me up, because as soon as something is different, I wake up.’

Michael Guggenberger has sailed 4,000 miles solo in his Biscay 36, mostly offshore to prepare for the race. Credit: Petra Rautenstrauch

Michael Guggenberger hopes to reach the middle of the southern Indian Ocean in around 10-12 days time. Credit: Petra Rautenstrauch

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore says he takes each day as it comes and does not try to calculate his ETA to the Hobart Gate to prevent ‘frustration’.

‘I have a mark in the middle of my chart of the Indian Ocean, and once I am across that, I should be able to calculate the number of days it will take to reach Hobart, but I am not calculating much because you have days when your plan is gone, and the wind is not so good. Calculating your ETA can lead to a lot of joy but it can lead to a lot of frustration. I will probably be at the middle mark in about 10 days,’ he said.

A man standing on the bow of a Biscay 36 with white water spray

Michael Guggenberger hasn’t experienced enough bad weather yet to test out his wave sail, which will be used to slow the boat down. Credit: Julia Eder Martin Kadlez

For now, Guggenberger is just enjoying the voyage and the wildlife encounters.

‘The beauty of it is to be out here, living it. It is really beautiful. When the weather is hard, it is not so nice, but when the weather gets nice again then it is beautiful, easy sailing; no effort. The joy after the hardship. I am sitting here watching albatross flying. There are many young birds, and they are just learning to fly. It is really beautiful to see that. Yesterday I had two whales moving next to my boat, 50 metres away. It is magical.’

Meanwhile, French skipper Arnaud Gaist has announced he plans to divert to St Helena and return to Les Sables d’Olonne, due to problems with barnacle growth and his mast.

Arnaud Gaist's long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, is also his home

Arnaud Gaist’s long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, is suffering from mast and rig problems

In his latest tweet, he wrote: ‘With the barnacles and my weakness in the mast: it would be Cape Horn in April 🙁 I divert to St Helene and return to Les Sables.’

Last week, Gaist contacted GGR Race HQ to inform them that due to problems with his mast and rigging, he could no longer sail his long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, to windward. He said the mast was bending and efforts to re-establish symmetry by tensioning the rig had failed.

He said the mast base was moving and a lower shroud needed tightening. The bobstay fitting supporting the bowsprit was also under stress, suggesting deeper issues with the symmetry and compression of the whole rig.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 01 December 2022 at 1600 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

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