Solo skipper Ian Herbert-Jones is now officially in the Chichester Class of the 2022 Golden Globe Race. He is heading to a port of refugee following problems with his self-steering gear
The 52-year-old solo sailor spent days sailing through several storms as he approached Cape Horn, enduring 60 knot gusts and 7 metres seas.
The skipper has been hand steering the boat under bare poles due to the tough conditions.
He does have an emergency autopilot onboard, but it drives through the Hydrovane rudder, and so can’t be used.
As a result, Ian Herbert-Jones is now heading to a port of refugee in Tierra de Fuego.
He has opened his safety GPS and is using his satellite phone to co-ordinate his arrival with his shore manager in the UK. This has now put him in the Chichester Class, leaving just three skippers left in the running for a podium position in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
But, Ian Herbert-Jones does have a reason to feel happy; he passed Cape Horn this morning – his first time solo – hand steering Puffin in 30-45 knots.
The former Army avionics engineer made no secret of his concerns about rounding the landmark so late in the season, having made slow progress since leaving Hobart, battling headwinds and calms.
When he last spoke to Yachting Monthly, he said: ‘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.’
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Ian Herbert-Jones has been sailing Puffin solo since May 2021, and like the other skippers, learnt from the experiences of the entrants in the 2018-19 Golden Globe Race.
Ahead of the 2022 race, he sealed his electronics behind Puffin’s bulkhead with watertight boxes and installed a water tight hatch in the companionway. He has also fitted purpose-made covers which can be unrolled to protect the boat’s instruments.
The table in the saloon was replaced with a large box, which stores his emergency equipment and divides the cabin. This allowed him to build a ‘business class compartment’, made from newly installed stainless steel grab poles and acrylic canvas to try and keep one area of the boat dry.
Despite his preparation, one of the knockdowns did result in water entering the boat.
‘It [the knockdown on 20 March 2023] really took me by surprise because it wasn’t crazy conditions out there. I had a hatch half open, of course, and one leg in my dry suit literally stepping in, because I was going to go out to do something and the next thing we were over on our side. There was not too much water, only a few bucketfuls, but because we were right over, it ran along the headline and went right across the boat. It went everywhere. It even got into the business class compartment, so the passengers were not happy!’ shared Ian Herbert-Jones.
‘I have the cabin pretty locked down, so not much stuff out. But it was shortly after breakfast so it picked a good moment to knock us over.’
He said conditions were ‘biblical’, and he was eating freeze dried food and snacks to keep his energy levels up.
Speaking to Golden Globe Race chairman, Don McIntyre, ahead of rounding Cape Horn, he said: ‘I am standing here in full oilies by my hatch. When the gusts are too much I go out and give the Hydrovane a hand and check everything is where it should be. I am spending hours looking out of my hatch at my Hydrovane, and then I whip out, take the wheel and give the Hydrovane a helping hand to get it all level again.
‘Most of the time I have the wind on my quarter and most of the waves are on my quarter or stern and completely harmless and then you get the ones that just catch us at 90 degrees.’
Ian Herbert-Jones has also been running his engine (which started first time), to keep his batteries topped up, and will need to make repairs to his mainsail, due to a 20-30cm tear above the third reef point.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 23 March 2022 at 1100 UTC
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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