Many of the 2022 Golden Globe Race skippers are now rationing their water as they struggle to catch rain in the Pacific Ocean

‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’ was just one of the hardships faced by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, and it is also the case for more than half of the Golden Globe Race fleet as they push on into the Pacific.

Ian Herbert-Jones, Abhilash Tomy and Michael Guggenberger are all rationing their water.

Both Herbert-Jones and Guggenberger believe their water tanks are contaminated.

A boat with an orange hull and white sails, cruising through the water

Puffin was sailed to fourth place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race by Istvan Kopar. Like Ian Herbert-Jones, Kopar also suffered with a contaminated water tank. Credit: Ian Herbert-Jones

‘I am officially water rationing,’ shared Herbert-Jones, who is still sailing his Tradewind 35, Puffin in the Tasman Sea as he makes his way towards the Snares Islands, which he must keep to starboard.

‘I think I have got just enough to give me two litres a day before I get home. I will try and catch water along the way, but I would not have thought it would be so hard. Hopefully, when I reach the Tropics I should get a nice big refill. I have also been drinking organic matter for quite some time, so there is something growing in my water tank. I always boil the water from my tank, but I am now drinking [the water] out of my Jerry Cans now.’

Austrian solo sailor Guggenberger has lost 150 litres of drinking water, which is becoming saltier by the day; he is just using it for washing. He does have cans of lemon soda and bottles of wine onboard.

All the skippers are finding it hard to catch water in the Pacific, as when the rain does fall, the conditions are usually too rough to collect it.

Sailor Michael Guggenberger on the deck of a Biscay 36 as it smashes through the water

Michael Guggenberger has found this week tough, with little wind. Instead he is having to endure heavy swell aboard his yacht, Nuri Credit: Julia Eder Martin Kadlez

‘It is dry like a desert. In 35 knots of winds and 5 metre seas, you can’t really catch water. When blowing hard, that is the only time it rains,’ said Guggenberger, who is sailing the only ketch in the fleet – the Biscay 36, Nuri.

Abhilash Tomy, who is currently in second place, is also struggling to catch water. He recently sailed through a small low pressure system, but only managed to catch just two cups of water, and has rationed himself to have one serving of rice, cooked in fresh water, a month, using salt water the rest of the time for cooking.

Abhilash Tomy is currently in second place. He has been living on 1 litre of water a day for weeks. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

The former Indian Naval Commander, who is now halfway across the Pacific, said the 4-5 metre seas makes it ‘tiring’ to keep his Rustler 36, Bayanat moving in light winds; it also puts strain on the boat and the gear.

‘The swell keeps shaking the boat. The sea state does allow you to carry the spinnaker for some stability, and I’ve been using the asymmetric too in southerly winds [..] It is more like sailing at the equator, but with lower temperatures,’ he said.

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An unusual Antarctic polar vortex is contributing to a weather anomaly which is pushing low pressure systems further south than usual. This has been causing much frustration for the Golden Globe Race skippers, as the better winds have been in the Pacific No Go Zone, which forces entrants to keep 47°S to starboard until 115°W; those who cross the line are given time penalties.

South African Kirsten Neuschafer has opted to stay as close as possible to the No Go Zone limit to catch the wind, and has made good average speeds – up to 8 knots –  over the last 48 hours, helping her to close the gap between her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha and Bayanat.

Golden Globe race skipper Kirsten Neuschafer wearing a green tshirt

Kirsten Neuschafer has made 178 miles in the last 24 hours. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

She is now 85 miles behind Tomy. The solo sailor has also removed barnacles from the hull of her boat, diving three times in the Pacific to scrape off the crustaceans.

‘ I saw barnacles on the Hydrovane (windvane steering) rudder. I had a dive and discovered the port side was all barnacles, like a reef, and the middle and starboard side was not so bad. I spent a couple of hours scrapping but didn’t’ get much off, and then the next day spent three hours scrapping and managed to get about three-quarters of them off. It is not very easy and is very tiring,’ she said.

Golden Globe Race leader Simon Curwen has now cleared the Pacific No Go Zone and is sailing his Biscay 36, Clara, south-east towards Cape Horn; he has 1,200 miles to reach the landmark, and is expected to round the Horn in around eight days time.

Simon Curwen using a sextant

Simon Curwen has had sun over the last 24 hours, allowing him to get a clear fix on his position. His next waypoint is now Cape Horn. Credit: Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580/Simon Curwen

‘I am happy now, I have my freedom [now I am out of the No Go Zone], but my freedom is not great. The wind was dead behind in the exclusion zone but once I was out of the zone, the wind went round to the north-west and I want to go south-east, so the wind is dead behind again,’ he said.

Golden Globe Race HQ has issued a weather alert to Curwen due to a Southern Ocean depression. These weather alerts are only given out to skippers if the forecasted winds are 35 knots or above.

Curwen, who is no longer receiving weather information via HF radio as he is out of range, can expect to sail through 40 knot winds, gusting 50 knots or higher and 5-6 metre seas over the next 12 hours.

Earlier this week, he said the swell meant it was ‘too lumpy to put any headsails up. I am just sailing with the mainsail because there is too much sea. If you try and pole out a foresail it just gets bashed, and if you don’t pole it out, then it just slams from side to side.  It is too lumpy for a spinnaker; it smashes backwards and forwards which is frustrating,’ added Curwen.

Guy Waites

Guy Waites is very unlikely to make the Hobart Gate before the end of the month, and is expected to be out of the Golden Globe Race. He will, however, continue sailing towards Cape Horn. Credit: Maeva Bardy

Fellow UK skipper Guy Waites, who is in the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop, has been enjoying solid 30-35 knots winds in the southern Indian Ocean, and has now past Cape Leeuwin. He has just four days to reach the Hobart Gate before it closes.

Waites is currently 1,050 miles away so is not going to make the gate; instead he will miss the Tasmanian port and  continue towards Cape Horn.

This will disqualify him from the Golden Globe Race, and all safety communications and watches will need to be taken over by his team.

Waites is just 1,650 miles from Ian Herbert-Jones, and should close the gap in the days head.

A boat with a white hull and red sails, cruising on the water, heeled over

Arnaud Gaist has now arrived back in France. Credit: B. Gerdaud

Meanwhile Arnaud Gaist, who retired from the Golden Globe Race in December due to a bending mast and barnacle growth on the hull of his long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, has now arrived back in Les Sables d’Olonne after 145 days alone at sea.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 27 January 2022 at 1000 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
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin

Chichester Class:

Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
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
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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