The Golden Globe Race skippers have to reach the Hobart Gate by 30 January 2023. Those at the front should make it by Christmas, but the real test will be for the sailors at the back of the fleet

High pressure systems and light winds have slowed down the progress of Simon Curwen, allowing both Kirsten Neuschafer and Abhilash Tomy to make serious gains on the Golden Globe Race leader as they head towards Hobart.

Perfect downwind conditions have meant both have sailed over 1,100 miles in the last week, with Neuschafter gaining 500 miles on Curwen, who is just under 200 miles from the Hobart gate.

The UK skipper is facing yet more high pressure systems. He has also yet to tack his sloop-rigged Biscay 36, Clara, to port, wanting to avoid beating into headwinds.

Since 2006, Kirsten Neuschafer has been sailing professionally, including sail training and deliveries as well as working for Skip Novak on his Pelagic Expeditions

Kirsten Neuschafer has made impressive gains on Simon Curwen, and is now only 200 miles behind him. Credit: Robert Mitchell

But, the calm weather has allowed Curwen to carry out maintenance on the yacht, which will give him a quicker turnaround at the Hobart gate in Storm Bay.

‘I had an issue with the Hydrovane (windvane steering) which was the main job I did while becalmed. It was a mounting issue, where some of the bolts had worked loose on the upper mounting. These have now been tightened so the issue is resolved,’ said Curwen.

He said the weather had been ‘frustrating’. ‘I had hoped to be in Hobart by now and I reckon I have a few more days of beating to get in.’

A self steering gear on the back of a boat

Simon Curwen has made repairs to his Hydrovane after the bolts on the upper mounting came loose. Credit: Katy Stickland

Neuschafer is just 400 miles from the Tasmanian port, and is able to maintain a port tack on her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha. The South African solo sailor will pick up north westerly winds which should help her close the gap.

But she could also feel the pressure from Abhilash Tomy, who is 650 miles away from Hobart, and 250 miles from Minnehaha. Southwesterlies over the next few days means the former Indian Naval Commander is likely to make gains of 80-100 miles.

Tomy’s Rustler 36, Bayanat has been making speeds of around 160-170 miles a day over the last week. He has also recently changed his mainsail, after it ripped.

Both Michael Guggenberger and Jeremy Bagshaw have been advised by Golden Globe Race HQ to move further north to avoid a forecasted 60-70 knot storm, which is expected to pass by them in the next few days.

Sailor Michael Guggenberger on the deck of a Biscay 36

Michael Guggenberger has increased his lead over Jeremy Bagshaw over the last week. Credit: Julia Eder Martin Kadlez

Austrian sailor Guggenberger is sailing around 140 miles a day in his Biscay 36 ketch, Nuri, and should arrive in Hobart by the end of the year.

Bagshaw, who is sailing the smallest boat in the fleet, has just endured a week of heavy weather sailing in his OE32, Olleanna, and is expected to make the Hobart gate by mid January.

All skippers have to make the Hobart Gate by 30 January 2023 in order to be able to continue towards Cape Horn. If they don’t, the entrant becomes a GGR Voyager, which will mean he or she will have to stop racing and can only continue after 1000 local time on 1 December 2024.

All of the top five skippers have achieved over 1,000 miles a week, and British skipper Ian Herbert-Jones has now joined them, setting a personal record of 1,007 miles on 17 December aboard his Tradewind 35, Puffin.

Herbert-Jones has sailed conservatively since the race start, but his average speeds means he should make Hobart in time.

Continues below…

Guy Waites perhaps faces the biggest challenge of the fleet.

The Scarborough sailor has now lifted his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha out of the water and removed the gooseneck barnacle infestation from her hull.

Two coats of antifouling have been applied and the yacht is back in the water.

He is now waiting for the best weather window to continue his voyage but will need to sail at least 160 miles a day – around 6 knots – in a straight line to make it to Hobart in time.

A boat being lifted out of the water

The gooseneck barnacles covering the hull of Guy Waites’s Tradewind 35 have now been removed. He will continue the Golden Globe Race in the Chichester Class for entrants which make one stop. Credit: Karin Smit

Waites is now in the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop.

Meanwhile, the Golden Globe Race dream is over for American skipper Elliot Smith.

Having repaired his broken and bent bowsprit on his Gale Force 34, Second Wind, the 27-year-old contacted Golden Globe Race HQ on 16 December 2022 to report it had bent again and he had secured the mast with halyards.

Elliot Smith is now heading to western Australia where he will stop, ending his Golden Globe Race dreams. Credit: Simon McDonnell/FBYC

Elliot Smith is now heading to western Australia where he will stop, ending his Golden Globe Race dreams. Credit: Simon McDonnell/FBYC

He planned to make repairs at sea by dropping the forestay, holding the mast with two spinnaker halyard and staysail stay in order to fit a spare shorter cap shroud as a forestay. He then planned to cut the end of reefing gear extrusions, refit it with link plates and chain to the stem fitting at bow.

But despite climbing the mast 10 times, the 3-metre swell made repairs challenging. He also lost tools and spares overboard including his spare stay, critical to the success of the repair.

Smith is now heading to western Australia, and plans to stop in either Fremantle or Albany.

‘I think I am going to have to call it. For two days I’ve tried to sort it and I have lost a lot of things overboard including my back up stay, and I am going to have to stop. I can’t continue,’ he said.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 21 December 2022 at 1000 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

Chichester Class:

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

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

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