Simon Curwen was the first of the Golden Globe Race skippers to pass through the Hobart Gate to continue racing towards Cape Horn
Cape Horn is now the focus for the top three Golden Globe Race skippers, who have passed through the Hobart Gate, marking the half way point of the race.
Although UK skipper Simon Curwen was the first to reach the milestone, he struggled with light winds and high pressure systems coming into the Tasmanian port which allowed both Kirsten Neuschafer and Abhilash Tomy to make significant gains on his position.
Just 250 miles separate Curwen and Neuschafer. The South African sailor took a southward course after leaving Hobart which has allowed her to avoid the high pressure system currently frustrating Tomy.
All skippers must remain at the Hobart Gate at Storm Bay for a minimum of 90 minutes before being able to continue towards Cape Horn.
This leg will certainly be challenging for all of the entrants, and like the previous Cape Town to Hobart leg, there will be a No Go Zone – 47° south left to starboard until 115° west.
The winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede sailed from Hobart to Cape Horn in 51 days.
Curwen arrived on Christmas Eve and anchored in the bay. He didn’t stay long as he was eager to rebuild his lead onboard his Biscay 36, Clara.
‘I was really chipper about two weeks ago when I thought I had a pretty good lead in the race. The ultimate objective is to get around, but having found myself having a bit of a lead, naturally you want to try and look after it and now, I have effectively lost it all. That is a bit gutting. So I will have to start again really,’ said the 63-year-old.
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Curwen made the most of the calm weather before entering Hobart to make repairs to Clara’s Hydrovane windvane steering system, re-bolting the top mount in the transom after it had come loose. The process involved removing the watertight seal in the transom locker and the tiller to make the repairs, before resealing it and replacing the tiller.
The Mini Transat veteran also has ongoing issues with wear on his furling genoa halyard. The stainless steel plate between the two sheaves is catching on the line. Every week Curwen has to take down his furling genoa and move the wear point.
Curwen was around 120 miles from Hobart by the time Kirsten Neuschafer arrived on Christmas Day.
The 39-year-old South African said overall her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha was performing well, with only minor issues like chafe on lines and a few leaks which meant it was ‘a bit damp down below’. She has lost her Windex, which meant she climbed the mast in Hobart to ‘tie some foil up there’ so she can read the wind direction.
Neuschafer shared that leaving Cape Town to sail the leg to Hobart was hard after seeing her parents, but she was soon got ‘back into the groove’, and enjoyed the sailing.
‘I was expecting more heavy weather or at least one big blow but it didn’t come through on this leg. The biggest weather was around 35-40knots. It was really pleasant sailing as the south-westerly swell was coming through which pushed me on.’
The solo sailor, who prior to the race was preparing and sailing Skip Novak’s Pelagic Australis to South Georgia, The Antarctic Peninsula, Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, said she was looking forward to her first ‘proper rounding’ of Cape Horn, sailing from the Pacific into the Atlantic Ocean.
Like Curwen, Neuschafer didn’t linger in Hobart, unlike Abhilash Tomy, who spent 20 hours at the gate, sleeping and making minor repairs to his Rustler 36, Bayanat.
The former Indian Naval Commander spent days battling light winds to get into Hobart, arriving on the 27 December 2022.
Tomy shared that his yacht almost hit rocks coming into Storm Bay, having been asleep down below.
The 43-year-old, who took part in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, said it was difficult not receiving updates or messages from home.
In the 2018 race, entrants were able to transmit on HAM radio, allowing them to stay in touch with family and friends.
‘In 2018 we were getting updates from home. If I get message from my wife I know things were fine When I am at sea I do not stop being a father and a husband and I am worried about home,’ he said.
Tomy, who first circumnavigated the world non-stop and solo ten years ago, broke his back in four places while taking part in the 2018 race after his ERIC Suhaili Replica masthead ketch, Thuriya was knocked down multiple times while running under bare poles in 75 knot winds in the southern Indian Ocean.
‘When I crossed the point where I had the accident, that was a very physical experience; I felt something leave me. Looking back I realised that throughout the  voyage until that point, my jaw was tight, my shoulders were tight but the moment I crossed that point it left me. I feel light,’ he said.
The next Golden Globe Race skipper to pass through the Hobart Gate is expected to be Michael Guggenberger, who is around 285 miles away from Storm Bay.
Jeremy Bagshaw, who celebrated his 60th birthday at sea, is over 1,000 miles behind him and should make it to Hobart by early to mid January.
Ian Herbert-Jones is about to pass the end of the No Go Zone at 44° south and then needs to push to make it to Tasmania by the end of January.
Elliot Smith, who has declared he will retire from the race due to bowsprit problems, is sailing conservatively to avoid putting any more pressure on the mast of his Gale Force 34, Second Wind. He will be stopping in Western Australia.
Meanwhile Guy Waites, the only skipper in the Chichester Class after making a stop in Cape Town to remove the barnacles from the hull of his boat, is pushing hard to make the 31 January 2023 deadline for the Hobart Gate.
He needs to sail his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha at least 160 miles a day to make it in time; in the last 24 hours, he has sailed 43 miles.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 29 December 2022 at 1200 UTC
Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
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
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
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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