Having lost most of his lead while struggling with light winds around Hobart, UK Golden Globe Race skipper, Simon Curwen has now regained it, and could soon be 1,000 miles ahead of the rest of the fleet

Simon Curwen admitted he found it ‘a bit gutting’ to have lost almost all of his lead over the 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet by the time he arrived at the Hobart Gate.

The Chichester-based solo sailor has led since leaving the Bay of Biscay, but this soon disappeared when he had to sail his Biscay 36, Clara through calms on his approach to the Tasmanian port; this enabled South African Kirsten Neuschafer to catch him and at one point just 24 hours separated the two skippers.

Consequently, Curwen didn’t spend a long time at Storm Bay and it looks like his strategy has paid off.

After just over two weeks in the Pacific Ocean, he now has an 860 mile lead over Abhilash Tomy, who is currently in second place; Neuschafer is less than 60 miles behind Tomy.

A yacht with a blue hull and white sails

Abhilash Tomy has now moved up to second place in the fleet, although he is facing more unsettled weather in the coming days. Tomy and his nearest rival Kirsten Neuschafer, should reach the Pacific exclusion zone in two days time. Credit: GGR2022/ D&JJ

Curwen’s gains are partly due to the fresh south-south-westerly winds, although he has recently slowed due to a high pressure system, but this is about to come an end, and the Mini Transat veteran should soon be making over 100 miles a day, thanks to forecasted northerlies.

Consistent northerly breeze should help Simon Curwen to gain at least another 100 miles on Tomy and Neuschafer, increasing his lead to 1,000 miles.

He said he wasn’t going to be making any more predictions about Clara‘s speed, but did confirm that he was receiving weather information from the New Zealand Met Service, although he admitted it was ‘complicated to interpret,’

‘I am loving it [getting the weather information] but I am not really understanding it, but at least I can anticipate a bit what is coming [towards me],’ he said.

A woman on the deck of a boat

Kirsten Neuschafer is now receiving weather information via her weather fax and HF radio. Credit: Kirsten Neuschafer/GGR 2022

Tomy and Neuschafer have both been left frustrated due to wind holes, but this should improve from today, although it will be unsettled going forward. Both should reach the edge of the Pacific exclusion zone in the next few days.

Neuschafer went further south than Tomy, which allowed him to make gains.

‘I went quite far south, in terms of taking the seas and I was fixing the sail track one day and I didn’t take a sun sight, and then the next day when I took a sight I was 60 miles further south then I thought and needed to get back north,’ said Neuschafer.

‘I had a light north-northeasterly so getting north was tricky. And then when I got past the winds died,’ she added.

A male sailor in wet weather gear with a yellow hood on the edge of a yacht while sailing through white water

Michael Guggenberger is expected to round Cape Horn by March. Credit: Michael Guggenberger/GGR 2022

Tomy also has the benefit of a so-called ‘secret weapon’ – a sail. Details are scant, although Golden Globe Race chairman, Don McIntyre shared that the sail won’t help Tomy point his Rustler 36, Bayanat, but ‘he can make ground reaching with his sail.’

In the last week, the former Indian Naval Commander also had to climb the mast after two bolts came loose on the mast’s first set of spreaders.

Fourth placed Michael Guggenberger, who is 780 miles behind Neuschafer, has also made good speeds this week, reaching 138 miles in the last 24 hours due to a low-pressure system north of New Zealand.

Continues below…

But it is Scarborough skipper Guy Waites, who is achieving the fastest daily speeds of the Golden Globe Race fleet.

His Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha, sailed 1,029 miles in the last week, a new personal best for Waites, who is now in the Chichester Class for sailors who make one stop in the race; he had to lift out his yacht in Cape Town to remove gooseneck barnacles and re-antifoul the boat.

As he is in the Chichester Class, Waites was able to enter the exclusion zone in the southern Indian Ocean to make the best use of the southerlies, without facing any penalties.

Guy Waites has changed the boat's mast for a double spreader. Credit: Guy Waites/GGR

Guy Waites has less than 20 days to reach Hobart. Credit: Guy Waites/GGR

‘I have had some quite challenging weather the past week and it is that which forced me south of the 44° south limit. It was not to go out rule breaking for any particular reasons, but the right thing to do to keep Sagarmatha in a defensive position against breaking seas,’ he explained.

‘I had 40 days when I left Cape Town [to reach Hobart]. I now have 22 left and I am not quite half way so I need to get the hammer down,’ added Waites on Monday.

Sagarmatha must reach the Hobart Gate by 31 January 2023 in order to continue into the Pacific Ocean and towards Cape Horn.

Waites will slow down in the next few days, but he still has an ETA of 9 February to reach Hobart, so there is a chance he will make the deadline.

A man sitting in the cockpit of a boat with an orange hull and white sails

Ian Herbert Jones has gained 200 miles on fifth-placed Jeremy Bagshaw. Credit: Karin Smit/GGR 2022

Both UK skipper Ian Herbert-Jones and South African Jeremy Bagshaw are close to arriving in Hobart, but are having to contend with a succession of high and low pressures.

Bagshaw in his OE32, Olleanna, is 200 miles away from the gate, but he is experiencing little wind. He is now expected to arrive by the weekend.

Herbert-Jones has been the one to gain due to the complex weather, and his Tradewind 35, Puffin has gained 200 miles on Bagshaw in the last week, and now just 350 miles separate them.

Meanwhile, Elliot Smith, who has retired from the Golden Globe Race due to his damaged bowsprit, is making the most of the breeze from the south west as he sails his Gale Force 34, Second Wind, towards Fremantle, Australia. His team is already making arrangement for his arrival.

Golden Globe Race organisers have also confirmed that they a dropping the Punta del Este film gate.

‘While the previous three gates are part of recreating the original 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race entrants dropping films and letters, the Punta Del Este drop was mainly to grab Southern Ocean footage for media opportunities. The long split of entrants rounding Cape Horn now makes that task not relevant. This will also allow more tactical opportunities for the sailors to make gains, or suffer losses in their choice of course as they round Cape Horn and climb north to the equator,’ said Race HQ.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 11 January 2022 at 0800 UTC

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin

Chichester Class:

Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha

Retired:

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


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