Golden Globe Race leader Kirsten Neuschäfer has rounded Cape Horn and is now heading into the South Atlantic. Her nearest rival Abhilash Tomy is facing problems with his self-steering gear

Kirsten Neuschäfer is the first of the 2022 Golden Globe Race skippers to round Cape Horn; the landmark is considered to be one of the biggest challenges in sailing, especially if you are singlehanding.

The South African skipper passed the Horn in 15-18 knot south westerly winds and squally conditions, around five miles from land, on Day 164 of the race.

An aerial view of a Cape George 36 cutter yacht

Kirsten Neuschäfer’s Cape George 36 cutter was launched in 1988 and was built at the Cape George yard in Washington. Credit: Kirsten Neuschäfer/GGR

She can no longer fly her twin headsails on her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha, due to a broken spinnaker pole and on approach, was sailing with one reef in the mainsail and her yankee poled out.

‘It feels good. I was hoping to see the lighthouse but I didn’t see the lighthouse, but then I saw the land when the dawn light came. It feels special to get past the Cape,’ she said.

Kirsten, 39, initially announced she was planning to avoid going through the Le Maire Strait, as she does’t have tidal information, and is aiming to go east past the Falkland Islands as she makes her way up into the south Atlantic. But this could change due to favourable wind conditions.

Kirsten Neuschafer on a dinghy in the Southern Ocean

Kirsten Neuschäfer has spend many seasons navigating the waters off South Georgia, Patagonia, The Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Credit: Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580/Kirsten Neuschäfer

This is an area the solo sailor knows well. For years, she worked for Skip Novak preparing and sailing his 74ft Pelagic Australis, to South Georgia, The Antarctic Peninsula, Patagonia and the Falkland Islands.

This is the first time Kirsten has rounded Cape Horn solo.

Continues below…

Minnehaha was chosen by Kirsten specifically for the boat’s ability to cope with heavy weather.

Built in 1988, the yacht was strengthened ahead of the start of the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and was fitted with a new mast, deck, reinforcement plates around the spreaders and cap shrouds, chainplates, hull fittings and bulwarks.

Other than a broken spinnaker pole and problems with barnacles growing on the hull, which has meant that Kirsten has had to dive underneath the boat to clean off the crustaceans, she reports that all is well onboard.

The same can’t be said for her nearest rival, Abhilash Tomy.

The former Indian Commander is struggling with problems with his Windpilot self-steering gear, due to the breakage of the pendulum blade.

In the last two weeks, Tomy has been sailing through plenty of heavy weather, which means he has used up his spare blades; he has even made a blade out of the door of the head, but that didn’t work, so has now used his spare emergency rudder to fashion a blade.

A back of a boat with a self steering system

Abhilash Tomy is one of two skippers in the race who is using a Windpilot self-steering system – the other is Jeremy Bagshaw. Credit: Katy Stickland

He reported earlier this week that he has used up the last of his spare blades and is currently sailing his Rustler 36, Bayanat north west of Cape Horn with a lashed tiller while he ‘considers his options’.

Tomy is currently 270 miles from Cape Horn, and should round the landmark by Monday. The weather is looking favourable, with north westerly winds, which will change to westerlies when he sails past the Horn

Simon Curwen, who has replaced his Hydrovane windvane steering system, is currently waiting at Isla Guaitecas in Chile for a better weather window so he can continue towards Cape Horn.

Meanwhile, third place Michael Guggenberger has cleared the Pacific Exclusion Zone and is just over 1,000 miles from Cape Horn.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 16 February 2022 at 0900 UTC

Kirsten Neuschäfer, (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

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