The battle is on in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, with four boats chasing the leader, Simon Curwen, as the fleet heads towards Cape Town

The 2022 Golden Globe Race fleet is closing in on the next photo gate at Cape Town, and all eyes are on the first five boats.

UK solo skipper Simon Curwen is still leading, although he can’t be complacent; Tapio Lehtinen, Abhilash Tomy, Pat Lawless and Kirsten Neuschafer are all bearing down.

All of the boats are performing well, with many sailing between 165-170 miles a day.

South African Kirsten Neuschafer has achieved a new Golden Globe Race 24 hour record of 184 miles in her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha; the 39-year-old specifically wanted a Cape George 36 for the race, which has a 806 sqft sail area and is considered by many to be one of the fastest boats in the fleet.

‘Right now I’ve got everything (all my sails) up, with the main reefed, otherwise the boom touches the water. The boat is great and I am really happy with it,’ she said.

A weather chart from a weather fax on board a boat

Many of the Golden Globe Race skippers are struggling to get charts on their weather fax as they sail towards Cape Town. Credit: Katy Stickland

Neuschafer has sailed this route many times during her career as a professional skipper. Currently, she is the furthest south in the fleet, having altered course earlier in the week to avoid getting too close to Tristan da Cunha. Like many of the other skippers, Neuschafer has not received any  information via her weather fax, and is relying on her onboard barometer.

Navigation wise I am feeling quite happy, I have a good idea where I am. I am pretty keen to get there [Cape Town] and see Table Mountain and that beautiful coastline; it will be fun,’ added Neuschafer, whose only problem currently is running out of books to read!

Abhilash Tomy in his Rustler 36 is also making good use of the high-pressure system, and in the last week Bayanat has sailed 1,140 miles – a new race record.

Bayanat has passed Tristan Da Cunha, the loneliest place on earth,’ he tweeted yesterday.

Tomy, who had to be rescued in the 2018 Golden Globe Race after his boat dismasted in a Southern Indian Ocean storm, says he is treating the Golden Globe Race as a circumnavigation not a race, and is looking forward to a ‘boring, unadventurous passage’.

‘It is good to be out of the 30 knot Tradewinds, and it has become a lot more comfortable over the last few days . I have been on a port tack since 1.5° north,’ he said.

‘My aim was to keep the boat in a good shape and not to push the boat too hard and I’ve achieved that so far,’ he added.

Pat Lawless looking at his sails

A former commercial fisherman, Pat Lawless is spending many hours a day checking his navigation. Credit: Kieran Ryan-Benson

Irish skipper Pat Lawless is currently in fourth place, and had a scare earlier in the week when he thought he had discovered rat droppings onboard his Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel.

‘I screamed like a sissy,’ he confessed. ‘I got a torch and looked in. It was black pepper. But Jesus, my heart!’

He is spending four hours a day checking his navigation. ‘My headspace is taken up with my next waypoint,’ he said.

Lawless, 66, spends his days navigating, checking the boat, cooking and listening to music.

‘I listen to a lot of music; music makes me emotional, makes me soft!’ he said, adding that he was missing his family and home in Ballyferriter, Co Kerry – the most westerly village in Europe.

Continues below…

French skipper Damien Guillou is facing further windvane steering issues.

Just after the race start, he returned to Les Sables d’Olonne after the head broke off one of the mounting bolts of his Hydrovane. Under race rules, he was allowed to continue racing as long as he left Les Sables d’Olonne by 1600 UTC on the 11 September 2022, which he did.

Before the race, Guillou’s team had fitted a new High-Performance Blade and modifications were made to the windvane steering system, including to the rudder attachment for the new blade. The original blade was kept as a spare.

A windvane self steering system. Damien Guillou has had to make repairs while sailing to Cape Town

Damien Guillou has now fitted a new rudder shaft and 7mm securing bolts to his windvane steering. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

Representatives from Hydrovane offered free inspections and service to all Hydrovane units being used in the race, which Guillou did not take up.

Earlier this week, Guillou’s Hydrovane main stainless steel rudder shaft broke and he had to fit a spare. He also modified the spare shaft and blade by drilling out the original 6mm hole to 7mm, threading it and fitting two machine screws from each side to hold the blade in place.

Hydrovane is now recommending all entrants with this self-steering set up make regular checks, and this has been passed on by GGR Race Control.

It will also now be a requirement for entrants in the 2026 Golden Globe Race to make sure any windvane modifications are shared with the manufacturer and race control for comment.

Guy Waites

Guy Waites is currently sailing towards Uruguay due to barnacles on his boat’s hull. Credit: Maeva Bardy

Guillou, who is currently sixth, has been racing hard to catch the frontrunners.

For those towards the tail end of the fleet, their passage to Cape Town should be a lot shorter.

American Elliot Smith, UK skipper Ian Herbert-Jones and French sailor Arnaud Gaist are in a different weather system, and should be able to take a more northerly route.

Guy Waites, who discovered barnacles on the hull of his Tradewind 35 masthead sloop, Sagarmatha a few weeks ago, has decided to head towards Uruguay, 1,500 miles away from his current position.

The British sailor can’t remove the growth of 2 inch long gooseneck barnacles all over the boat’s hull and stern, which is causing the vessel to slow down.

He has tried to go over the side to clean the hull, but to no avail, and believes Sagarmatha will need to be lifted out of the water.

‘I have been under the boat and the stern is completely covered, I can’t even see the antifoul and I couldn’t even get them off with a tool I have. So I have turned the boat around and I am heading for Punta del Este. I can’t contemplate continuing  to Cape Town; it is too far away and  I am crawling along, barely moving,’ he said.

‘It I continue like this to Cape Town I will be so late that I wont be able to get to the Southern Ocean in time. I may as well go off somewhere nearer, get rid of the bloody things and then I can make a decision,’ he added

Waites, who is a former Clipper Race skipper, is sailing towards the Punta del Este Yacht Club, where he will consider his options. He knows he should have dealt with his barnacle problems in the Doldrums, rather than leaving them to get worse.

Barnacles plagued several of the 2018 Golden Globe Race fleet, including Tapio Lehtinen, who took 322 days to circumnavigate the globe.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 28 October 2022 at 1200 UTC

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Pat Lawless, (Ireland), Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel
Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Damien Guillou, (France), Rustler 36, PRB
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Ertan Beskardes, (UK), Rustler 36, Lazy Otter
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
Elliot Smith,  (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Arnaud Gaist, (France), Barbican 33 Mk 2, Hermes Phoning


Edward Walentynowicz, (Canada), Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest
Guy deBoer, (USA), Tashiba 36, Spirit
Mark Sinclair (Australia), Lello 34, Coconut

Enjoyed reading Golden Globe Race: Who will make it to Cape Town first?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

        • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
        • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
        • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.