Golden Globe Race leader Simon Curwen has suffered a major blow following the complete failure of his Hydrovane windvane steering system; he has no spare

Windvane steering is essential for racing in the Golden Globe Race; without it, the skippers would struggle to be competitive.

Simon Curwen, who has led the race since leaving the Bay of Biscay, is currently weighing up his options after reporting the complete failure of his Hydrovane windvane steering system.

The shaft on the topside of the vane body, which connects to the wind sensor, has sheared off. Curwen is not carrying a spare windvane (to save weight), and can’t make repairs without original components.

windvane steering on the back of a yacht

The head of the windvane has sheared off; Simon Curwen is not sailing with a spare. Credit: Katy Stickland

The UK solo skipper was sailing in 40 knot winds and 6-metre seas when his Biscay 36, Clara was knocked down; the boat’s dodger was ripped off and the Hydrovane head sheared off. The mainsail batten cars were pulled from the mast track; Curwen has since repaired them.

The 62-year-old contacted Golden Globe Race HQ to say he was fine and required no assistance. He has requested weather forecasts and advice on nearby ports to make repairs.

Curwen is continuing to sail under storm jib and lashed tiller; weather conditions have also improved, with the wind now at 28-29 knots.

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He tweeted: ‘Disaster, as concerns the race. Early today Clara was knocked down. Sailing with just tiny headsail. The windvane head sheared off. Boat and skipper fine. Working on a plan.’

If Curwen decides to stop to make repairs, he will move to the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop. He is currently 1,200 miles from Cape Horn, and has already altered Clara‘s course for the coast of Chile.

Kirsten Neuschafer is in second place, 770 miles behind leader Simon Curwen. She still holds the 24-hour Golden Globe Race speed record of 183 miles. Credit: Eben Human

Kirsten Neuschafer now has a chance to close the gap between her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha and Clara. Credit: Eben Human

Second placed skipper, Abhilash Tomy is 1,120 miles to the west of Curwen; Kirsten Neuschafer is less than 70 miles behind Tomy.

Meanwhile Chichester Class sailor, Guy Waites is sailing his Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha under bare poles and towing warps in 45 knot winds and 6 metre seas.

He has decided not to enter Hobart, which will disqualify him from the Golden Globe Race, and continue sailing towards Cape Horn.

2022 Golden Globe Race skipper Guy Waites sailing his boat. His windvane steering can be seen at the back of the boat

Guy Waites is currently sailing through heavy weather, and has been advised not to sail further south. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

Waites has been advised by race HQ not to sail further south.

The 54-year-old sailor will continue to receive support of race HQ until the end of the month, the deadline for passing through the Hobart Gate.

After that he will be disqualified, and all safety communications and watches will need to be taken over by his team.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 28 January 2022 at 0600 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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