Golden Globe Race skipper Mark Slats has said he is thinking of retiring from the race after being banned from broadcasting on the HAM radio net

Mark Slats, who is less than 50 miles from Golden Globe Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, has announced he is thinking about retiring from the race after being banned from broadcasting on the Ham Radio Net.

Race organisers said the Dutch skipper does not have the required licence, and has been warned by the Dutch authorities to stop broadcasting, which has left him unable to communicate with his shore team.

Under the rules of the race, all of the entrants are able to use this free communication system to gain weather forecasts and maintain contact with their teams, but, it is the responsibility of each skipper to ensure that they abide by national and international regulations.

In a media release, race organisers said: ”National telecommunication authorities have often turned a deaf ear to unlicensed operators using made-up call signs while at sea. But this may be coming to an end following a warning from one National regulator to a GGR skipper. They warn: “You use an amateur callsign and are making connections with amateur radio operators. The call sign letters are not registered, and thus illegal. I ask you to stop. If you have a legal amateur callsign then I urge you to present it”.

‘Fair warning both to unregistered GGR skippers and to legitimate Ham radio operators communicating with them. In Britain, the Ham Radio net is controlled by OFCOM, which recently revoked more than 500 licences for non-compliance. This includes communicating with unregistered Ham radio operators. The maximum penalty is 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine and loss of their licence.’

The latest message from 41-year-old Slats on social media suggests that if he is unable to get weather information, he may think about quitting.

“Thinking about retiring from if I cannot weather safety first,” he wrote.

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Golden Globe Race organisers said a daily weather report is sent out over the Ham Radio Net, which Slats should be able to receive.

There is no race penalty for competitors who broadcast on the net without a licence.

This is not the only problem facing Slats.

He has informed Race HQ that he is having to use his emergency desalinator to turn salt water into fresh after running out of fresh water a week ago.

Barnacles have also made an unwelcome return, attaching themselves to the hull of Slats’ Rustler 36, Ohpen Maverick.

Despite cleaning the hull during a period of calm three weeks ago, Slats said the crustaceans have come back. Efforts to clean the bottom of his yacht were thwarted after the appearance of a shark.

Jean Lic Van Den Heede in his Rustler 36

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is still out in front, but the gap is narrowing. Credit: Tim Bishop/PPL/GGR

But, there has been some good news. Slats has managed to slice a further 393 miles out of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede’s lead.

The pair have less than 1,700 miles to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, and the gap between the two skippers has now narrowed to just 49 miles at 0800 UTC today.

Van Den Heede has led the race since the Southern Atlantic Ocean, however, his Rustler 36, Matmut was pitchpoled in the Southern Ocean, resulting in damage to the mast which is forcing the Frenchman to sail more conservatively.

He also still holds a weather advantage and once passed the influence of the Azores high pressure system, should be first to benefit from the reaching winds that will give him an easier passage north towards the Bay of Biscay.

It is expected he will cross the finish line on the 1 or 2 February 2019.

Latest positions at 15:00 UTC 15 January 2019

1 Jean- Luc VDH (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
2 Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
3 Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
4 Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
5 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria

Chichester Class (No time limit)

Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda (plans to restart from Australia in October 2019)


Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut