Michael Guggenberger is currently in third place in the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The solo skipper is in the trade winds and is making gains on the front of the fleet
Michael Guggenberger has a plan for the doldrums.
The Austrian singlehanded sailor is currently in the trade winds, making gains on the front of the Golden Globe Race fleet in his Biscay 36 ketch, Nuri – in the last 24 hours he has sailed 140 miles and made speeds of 6.6 knots.
‘I’m trying to get every bit of information that I can. I know the centreline of the doldrums from the Brazilian forecast. I talked to a ship on the 24 March and they gave me information on the position of Simon Curwen and Abhilash Tomy , so I know where the boats are,’ he told Yachting Monthly.
‘I think it is better to be west than east. I am thinking of using the Guiana current – which comes around the corner of Brazil towards the northwest – to carry me through the doldrums if they are too wide, as a good knot or two in the right direction should help me. I am travelling up [the Atlantic] at 30°W until 5°S and may divert if the doldrums are wide. I will then go northwest until I am out of them again and then I will go north again, on about 35°W.’
Guggenberger, who is less than 500 miles from the doldrums, and 900 miles from the race leaders, is no longer getting weather fax, but is receiving forecasts from Passage Guardian. However, Peter Mott, who runs the Passage Guardian service, is now away on holiday.
‘Down here, you won’t get anything via a weather fax because Brazil is not sending, South African is not sending, so all those stations have gone now in the South Atlantic. It is OK in the Indian Ocean as you receive Australia early and the Pacific is covered by Australia and Argentina. I will have to wait for the Canary Islands when we can receive Hamburg.’
Guggenberger, who is sailing the only ketch in the fleet, has plenty of food and water, having collected 250 litres recently. He is, however, becoming bored of his menu and is missing fresh food.
‘I’m actually a person who eats the same things a lot. If I like something, I can eat it everyday for a very, very, very, very long time, but not having the choice makes a difference, you know? Because now I have to eat it,’ said the 44-year-old.
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After 207 days alone at sea, Guggenberger says he is handling the isolation well, and is enjoying navigating using traditional techniques, rather than relying on electronics.
‘I do really love navigating like sailors did in the old days; grasping what weather information you can and then using your charts, sailing directions, knowledge and your own experiences, but I do miss my people. Jeremy [Bagshaw] put it in a nice way when he said “I miss the opportunity to laugh”. When you have people around you, they make you laugh and I am really missing that. I’ve become very used to being very emotional; I allow it and I enjoy it.
‘It never really takes a lot of energy. If I am sad, I will cry for a few minutes and then I think okay, I’m sad, and then I’m not sad anymore. The craziest thing is that I can not read [fiction] books on this trip, because I read one story with a really harsh scene, and my brain makes pictures and then they don’t go away. So, I only read technical books about sailing and weather and listen to music.’
Guggenberger, who learnt to sail in 2011, said his sailing technique had changed ‘a lot’ since the start of the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and he feels at one with his boat.
‘I’m much more serious about safety. I do know the line and I do know to go close to that line, but not over the line. My connection with the boat is getting a lot better. If I’m sitting inside the boat and there is a wind change, and we ride over the waves differently, I go out and adjust the sheets and then off we go again. A year ago, that was like half an hour of trial and error.
‘It makes me feel confident. The quietness inside of me is beautiful as well. I see a squall on the horizon and I think OK, a squall is coming and I wait the right amount of time, and do the stuff that is needed, and then I hide inside and wait until it is over. I still need to be careful, and I try to be aware but I am probably even more aware [of the boat] because I am so relaxed.’
He shared that when he gets back to Les Sables d’Olonne, he plans to ‘tidy up’ Nuri and put her up for sale before returning home.
Within the next week, Guggenberger should have crossed the equator.
Kirsten Neuschafer was the first of the 2022 Golden Globe Race entrants to cross the equator, followed by Curwen and Tomy.
But Neuschafer is struggling in the doldrums, having sailed just 13 miles in the last 24 hours. The South African sailor is further east than her two nearest rivals.
Curwen, who is in the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop, is closing the gap, and could take the lead shortly.
Tomy, who has moved further west of the rhumb line, is making the most of the wind, having sailed 72 miles in the last day, with speeds of 5.8 knots. However, he will have to tack at some point to make his way towards the Azores.
Golden Globe Race HQ has advised him to move as far north as quickly as possible to avoid the worst of the weather, which should bring 30-40 knot winds and 4-5 metre waves.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 31 March 2022 at 1100 UTC
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
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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