Simon Curwen has announced he is moving into the Chichester Class and is heading for a port of refuge. His decision means Kirsten Neuschafer is now the leader in the 2022 Golden Globe Race

Kirsten Neuschafer has never made a secret of her desire to win the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

The ambitious South African sailor chose her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha because she believed it was fast and solid enough to take her safely through the Southern Ocean.

The yacht has the largest sail plan in the fleet – 806 sq. ft.

In the last few weeks, Neuschafer has expressed her frustration with the race rules; the Pacific No Go Zone, which is there for safety reasons, stops the skippers from sailing below 47°S until 115°W. This prevented the 39-year-old from sailing south in search of wind, and trying to catch up with Simon Curwen.

Kirsten Neuschafer has made no secret of wanting to win the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The South African skipper has plenty of Southern Ocean sailing experience. Credit: GGR 2022

Kirsten Neuschafer used to sail with former Whitbread Round the Race skipper, Skip Novak, working as a skipper for his Pelagic Expeditions. Credit: GGR 2022

But, as with any yacht race, there is an element of luck as well as skill and judgement.

Simon Curwen, who has led the 2022 Golden Globe Race since leaving Biscay, has now declared he is moving into the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop, and is heading to a port in Chile to make repairs to his broken Hydrovane windvane steering system.

Just hours ago, the UK sailor tweeted: “With heavy heart, after a day of trials, I have taken the decision to make a pit stop in Chile and move to Chichester Class.”

“With no way to safely hold a course I was a sitting duck to all weather fronts. Howdens [his sponsors] have offered to send parts.What support:)”

Curwen was 1,200 miles from Cape Horn, sailing in 40 knot wind and 6 metre seas when his Biscay 36, Clara, was knocked down. He was sleeping down below when the wave hit.

Simon Curwen is around 250 miles ahead of Kirsten Neuschafer. Credit: Jane Zhou/GGR 2022

Simon Curwen is sailing to Puerto Montt in Chile to make repairs. Credit: Jane Zhou/GGR 2022

‘I was going very slowly; I had no sail up just a well furled staysail, sheeted centrally, and no main at all. I don’t know what happened first, whether the Hydrovane got knocked out and then I got slewed round and then hit by a wave or whether it was one event, and I will never know,’ he said.

‘I don’t recall the details of what happened; maybe I was concussed, I am not sure. I don’t think it was a full knockdown in traditional terms because there was not enough chaos down below.’

The knockdown sheared off the topside of the vane body, which connects to the wind sensor. It also bent the shaft of the Watt and Sea generator, ripped off the sprayhood, which was folded down at the time and tied to the handrail, and sheared off a teak handrail.

Continues below…

Curwen chose not to carry a spare Hydrovane to save weight so can’t make repairs. He is currently sailing using sheet to tiller steering, as well as hand steering.

‘The casting [on the Hydrovane] that has gone is so integral to the whole mechanism, I can’t think of anything, other than to replace it,’ he said.

Curwen also has a problem with the boat’s engine.

‘The ignition valve is not functioning so I can’t turn the key in it,’ he said.

Sailor Abhilash Tomy holding a line

Abhilash Tomy will be back to full racing mode by the end of the week. He is having to rest due to old injuries. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

He is now heading for Puerto Montt in Chile, and is planning to make repairs and then rejoin the Golden Globe Race in the Chichester Class.

Curwen’s decision means Kirsten Neuschafer is now at the front of the 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet.

She is currently 130 miles ahead of nearest rival, Abhilash Tomy, who is racing in the Rustler 36, Bayanat.

Kirsten Neuschafer is preparing her Cape George Cutter, CG36 Minnehaha on Prince Edward Island.

Kirsten Neuschafer prepared her Cape George Cutter, CG36 Minnehaha on Prince Edward Island. Credit: Patricia Richard

Neuschafer has been sailing further south than Tomy, who is resting due to health issues, as well as working on the boat.

He had to hand steer Bayanat for more than 12 hours during recent rough weather, which caused a spasm in his back and leg forcing him to take some rest.

Tomy has titanium rods in his back after he broke four vertebrae in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, when his ERIC Suhaili Replica masthead ketch, Thuriya was knocked down multiple times in 75 knot winds in the southern Indian Ocean.

He is expected to get back into racing mode in the next few days.

Kirsten Neuschafer is expected to come to the end of the Pacific No Go Zone by tomorrow, which will give her the freedom to chase the wind to try and increase her lead. She is around 1,900 miles from Cape Horn.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 31 January 2022 at 1000 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

Chichester Class:

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna


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

Enjoyed reading Golden Globe Race: Kirsten Neuschafer leads the fleet?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

        • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
        • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
        • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.