UK-Turkish solo sailor Ertan Beskardes has retired at Cape Town, citing loneliness for his decision. There are now 10 skippers left in the 2022 Golden Globe Race

Loneliness, and how the skippers deal with months alone at sea, is one of the challenges of the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

Some embrace sailing singlehanded around the world; for others, missing the contact with family and friends is a real struggle.

A family man, UK-Turkish skipper Ertan Beskardes has previously shared with Yachting Monthly his battle with loneliness and boredom while sailing through the doldrums.

With his Rustler 36, Lazy Otter barely moving at 2 knots on occasions, he had too much time to think.

Now, at Cape Town, he has decided to retire from the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

Ertan Beskardes was greeted by fellow Golden Globe Race 2022 skipper Pat Lawless. Both sailors have retired. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/GGR 2022

Ertan Beskardes was greeted by fellow Golden Globe Race 2022 skipper Pat Lawless. Both sailors have retired. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/GGR 2022

‘I would have continued to Hobart, and I spoke yesterday to Abhilash Tomy, and I made all the plans for leaving Cape Town, knowing it would take four to five days to get to 40° latitude. But, this morning, I realised there was a choice. Do I want to be sad, upset and crying for the next five-and-a-half months? That was the choice, whether I wanted to have that in my life,’ explained Beskardes, 60.

‘I have no excuses. The boat is perfect, I am well provisioned. It is just me really. It is, what it is. I accept this wonderful experience for the last 10 weeks and the huge discoveries about myself, but really there is no point going on with something where I am not going to be happy most of the time. I know there are people who will be disappointed that I won’t be completing this, but there is a very high price you pay mentally for this, and I don’t want to return home different than I am.’

Ertan Beskardes made the decision this morning to retire, citing loneliness. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/GGR 2022

Ertan Beskardes made the decision this morning to retire, citing loneliness. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/GGR 2022

Beskardes was a late entry in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, retiring after five days in A Coruña.

The boat’s HAM Radio and engine were not working and having spent six months away from his family while preparing for the race, he realised that neither he or Lazy Otter were ready to sail around the world.

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In the 2022 race, he had to manage a significant electrical failure on board after a small fire a week after the start. He was relying on wind and solar power to charge his batteries before making repairs. Other than that, he said the Rustler 36 took ‘everything in her stride. She is very comfortable. When a 6-8m wave comes,  it lifts her bottom and off she goes. Even if you get it wrong, she forgives you for it.’

Beskardes admitted he felt like he was ‘going mad’ with loneliness while trade wind sailing.

Ertan Beskardes - 2022 GGR skipper

Ertan Beskardes found the loneliness of sailing solo particularly hard through the trades. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR 2022

‘You get into the trade wind sailing, and you don’t even adjust the steering for three weeks, the boat just goes, so you have endless hours of worry, thinking about stupid things and for some people they’re beautifully suited for it. I spoke to some of the entrants, asking what they did all day as I was going mad,’ he said.

An emotional Beskardes said the decision to retire from the race after 72 days at sea was difficult, but he doesn’t see it as failure.

‘It was a difficult decision, as I didn’t want to let down all of these people. You feel guilty that you are not completing what you started. In life, I never saw my experiences as failures when I failed, it is something else you learn about yourself and ultimately, that is the thing, to know what your limitations are.’

Hydrovane self steering gear on the back of a yacht

French skipper Damien Guillou has also retired in Cape Town due to problems with his Hydrovane self-steering gear. Credit: Katy Stickland

He also paid tribute to the ‘amazing kindness’ of the ship captains he communicated with in the Atlantic, and the ‘chit chats’ he had with the other entrants. ‘That was really nice and you share things you wouldn’t really share with anyone else.’

So far, three skippers have retired at Cape Town in the 2022 race; Irish entrant Pat Lawless and French professional sailor Damien Guillou both stopped in South Africa after suffering from windvane steering problems.

In the 2018 race, of the 17 skippers who crossed the start line on the 1 July 2018, five had retired by the time they entered the southern Indian Ocean; three of them due to problems with their self-steering gear.

UK skipper Simon Curwen is still leading the 2022 fleet, followed by Tapio Lehtinen, Kirsten Neuschafter, Abhilash Tomy and Michael Guggenberger, who have all passed through the Cape Town Gate.

South African Jeremy Bagshaw is expected to arrive at Cape Town either tomorrow or Friday.

Ian Herbert-Jones learnt to sail while in the Army

Ian Herbert-Jones has HF radio problems which could limit his ability to get weather reports. Credit: Ian Herbert-Jones.

American skipper Elliot Smith is still 600 miles away, with UK sailor Ian Herbert-Jones 200 miles behind him. The former Clipper Race crew member has HF radio problems.

Meanwhile Frenchman Arnaud Gaist and UK skipper Guy Waites are currently sailing in fresh winds, but an anticyclone, which is moving east, could hamper their progress.

All of the 2022 Golden Globe Race skippers have to make it to the Hobart Gate in Tasmania before 1200 local time on 31 January 2023.

If they don’t, they will become a GGR Voyager, which will mean he will have to stop racing and can only continue towards Cape Horn after 1000 local time on 1 December 2024.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 14 November 2022 at 1200 UTC

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
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

Enjoyed reading Golden Globe Race: Loneliness ends race for Ertan Beskardes?

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