Ian Herbert-Jones is still deciding if he will stop at the Cape Town gate or continue straight to Hobart, having struggled with wind holes and a lack of weather information
Hobart is the third gate in the 2022 Golden Globe Race and is the only one with a time limit.
The race skippers must make the Hobart Gate in Tasmania before the cut off time of 1200 local time on 31 January 2023.
If they don’t, the entrant becomes a GGR Voyager, which will mean he or she will have to stop racing and can only continue towards Cape Horn after 1000 local time on 1 December 2024.
British Golden Globe Race sailor Ian Herbert-Jones is facing a dilemma. He is 350 miles from Cape Town, having made poor progress across the Atlantic due to a lack of wind, and now believes missing out the gate may be the only way he can reach Hobart in time to continue into the Southern Ocean.
‘I am not confident [that I will reach Hobart in time]. That’s my race now, to get to Hobart on time. I am really in a quandary about going into Cape Town. I am 350 miles off Cape Town at the moment but I am still debating sacrificing Cape Town and going south to save a few days in my contingency bank. On paper, I have time, but I know already that the conditions the guys are finding down there [southern Indian Ocean] are not normal; they are finding it hard to find good wind. Hobart is a stretch and if you don’t make Hobart, you don’t make the Horn, which is why having to go to Cape Town is so flaming frustrating,’ Herbert-Jones told Yachting Monthly.
‘It is not a protest against Cape Town. It is just seasons are working out differently. I know there are macro weather conditions going on which are changing the way the weather has been this year. And the question is can you afford the time to divert for what is a really awkward landfall, like going in and out of Cape Town?’ he added.
Under Golden Globe Race rules, missing the Cape Town media gate will result in an entrant being moved into the Chichester Class.
Any other subsequent stop, missed gate or rule infringement, would mean disqualification from the Golden Globe Race.
Herbert-Jones, who has already circumnavigated with crew in the 2007-08 Clipper Round the World Race, says he is receiving no synoptic charts via his weather fax, and is relying on information from the other Golden Globe Race skippers.
Although he is now receiving a 24-hour forecast from Cape Town radio, he needs five day forecasts to help him make the right decisions.
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‘It has been very much a luck of the draw. I’m really frustrated with the weather situation. It’s been a right difficult passage so far; nothing’s gone down the traditional route. When you’re relying on climate charts and you have no weather information, it is really frustrating. I’ve been in these high pressure holes and losing days on end and that’s been very, very, very frustrating to be honest with you,’ said the 52-year-old solo sailor, who is racing in the Tradewind 35, Puffin.
Despite his weather frustrations, Herbert-Jones is pleased with the boat, and is one of the few Golden Globe Race skippers not suffering from gooseneck barnacles growing on his yacht’s antifouling.
Puffin, which was sailed to fourth place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race by Istvan Kopar, was modified for the 2022 race. A Solent stay was installed on the yacht. Herbert-Jones also sealed his electronics behind the boat’s bulkhead with watertight boxes, installed a water tight hatch in the companionway, and fitted purpose-made covers, which can be unrolled to protect the boat’s instruments. The GRP moulded tanks were also replaced with new stainless steel water tanks.
But, he is having problems with his mast cars. So far, he has had to replace around a dozen of them.
‘If there is one thing which is going to stop me, it is the bloody track cars in my mast. I’ve replaced all of them once now and I am running out of spares. I’ve never broken one of those things in my life and I’ve now broken about a dozen,’ he explained.
Herbert-Jones has also repaired his Hydrovane windvane steering system, after a loose bolt allowed the steering system to rotate.
He says he is coping with isolation, although it has made him ‘a very sensitive guy’ and has ‘been harder’ than expected.
‘The Golden Globe Race is a massive learning curve,’ said Herbert-Jones, who prepared for the 2022 Golden Globe Race at Pwllheli in North Wales.
‘I only ever was racing against myself; I don’t have the experience or skills to set myself up, and Puffin was never the fastest boat in the fleet. So it has always been about myself and the circumnavigation. So this first part being difficult is an extra challenge. I know I have to get through that. I now have a really tight deadline to get through,’ he added.
Ian Herbert-Jones currently has strong westerlies, and looks to be heading towards Cape Town. If so, he should arrive by the weekend. He has said the wind will dictate his decision.
UPDATE: 12.19 UTC
Meanwhile, US sailor Elliot Smith, who has already passed through the Cape Town gate, is motoring for Simon’s Town on South Africa’s Western Cape after the bowsprit of his Gale Force 34 broke in half.
The 27-year-old, who prepared for the race on a shoestring budget, is reported to be OK and he has secured his mast. The weather in the area is calm, with a low sea state. He is 32 miles from Simon’s Town.
He plans to pick up a mooring buoy at Simon’s Town and assess the damage to Second Wind.
Earlier in the race, Smith reported problems with his through deck mast collar packing, which was allowing the mast to move.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 22 November 2022 at 1000 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
Elliot Smith, (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Arnaud Gaist, (France), Barbican 33 Mk 2, Hermes Phoning
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
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