Golden Globe Race skipper Ian Herbert-Jones looks set to round Cape Horn at the end of March and shares how he is preparing for what could be a 'gnarly' ride
‘Cape Horn is completely on my mind. I’m quite anxious. My ETA [to round the Horn] will be right at the end of the season, almost at the equinox [20 March 2023]. I am concerned; every day I get headwinds or half a day of calm is another day that I’m not at the Horn, and I know I am at the very tail end of the season now.’
Solo Golden Globe Race skipper Ian Herbert-Jones knows he has to push his Tradewind 35 cutter, Puffin hard across the Pacific, and is already thinking about storm tactics for rounding this most famous of headlands if the conditions turn ‘gnarly’.
He is around 3,000 miles away from Cape Horn.
‘I carry a Jordan Series Drogue. I haven’t needed to use it so far. I carry a try sail storm jib, but generally speaking, what I’m doing is getting rid of the mainsail and I am running a reefed staysail on a furler. I am able to make it into a very small storm jib, which gives me a lot of control, but I do not mind admitting at all that I am very apprehensive [about rounding Cape Horn so late in the season]. I know it can get serious very quickly down there; the biggest challenge is still ahead,’ said Herbert-Jones, who is the only British sailor left in the race for a podium position.
The 52-year-old, who is currently in fourth place, has made slow progress since leaving Hobart, battling headwinds and calms, although the last few days have bought westerly winds.
‘My take away is that since leaving Hobart, it has been bloody hard work to get this far across this bit of water,’ he said.
Herbert-Jones has been receiving regular weather updates via his HF radio from Peter Mott at Passage Guardian, which provides a free service to recreational yachts on ocean passages. He has also managed to send messages to his family.
‘It is difficult; we’ve had a lot of help from Peter Mott. Before Peter, we had almost zero forecasts. Frankly, there is a hole in the thinking around the race on weather. We are sailing like it is 1868; you just sail in what arrives, and watch the barometer carefully, but you can’t really make a tactical decision. You can only make a best guess.’
He said Puffin was performing well, with only minor issues onboard. He is also continuing to ration his water supply due to a contaminated tank, living on 2 litres of water a day.
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Herbert-Jones prepared the boat well for the rigours of a 30,000 mile non-stop voyage, and stowed plenty of two-and-a-half litre Jerry cans filled with water. He is hoping to catch water in the tropics, but admits he has caught very little so far.
‘It has been crazy. Apart from the beginning when we came down the North Atlantic, we’ve all caught nothing really between us. If you were relying on that in this race and this season, then you would be struggling,’ he noted.
Some of his fellow skippers have struggled. South African skipper, Jeremy Bagshaw was nearly out of water when he stopped at Hobart to remove the gooseneck barnacles from the hull of his OE32, which put him in the Chichester Class for boats which make one step.
Third placed Michael Guggenberger, sailing the Biscay 36 ketch, Nuri, is also rationing his water supply after a water tank became contaminated.
The 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet stay in regular contact, with Herbert-Jones talking daily to both Bagshaw and Guggenberger, as well as Guy Waites, who has retired from the race but is still sailing towards Cape Horn.
‘The HF radio has worked really well and has been a real bonus. I actually wasn’t expecting to really want to use it, but it is my social media now. We’re always in different conditions and the skippers are a big support to each other. Everyone needs a day when someone else picks you up, and then the next day you’re picking someone else up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve resigned but nobody will take my notice,’ joked Herbert-Jones, who had to pause our interview to sort out the burning popcorn on his stove which had set off the boat’s smoke detector.
He admitted the Golden Globe is a ‘lonely’ race. In the middle of the Pacific, unable to pick up radio stations and having sailed over 18,000 miles alone, he said he was missing the spoken word, having not brought enough music and audio books with him.
‘I never thought that I would be as homesick as I was when I left for this race. I travel for a living and I’m always away from home, so I thought I was immune. It’s an amazingly interesting experience to take yourself completely out of it. It has had a big impact on me,’ he said.
”I keep saying thank you to everyone that helped me get this far. None of us got here by ourselves. It is a privilege to get to do this, and I really want to say thank you and just send all my love to my family at home, my parents, my grandmother. They know I’m thinking about them, but I truly am; doing this sort of thing brings it into stark relief. I am coming home.’
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 16 February 2022 at 0900 UTC
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
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
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
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