Golden Globe Race leader Kirsten Nesuchafer has discovered the bowsprit of her yacht is bending downward slightly and is monitoring it as she continues to sail up the Atlantic east of the rhumb line
Kirsten Neuschafer is now sailing more conservatively, having discovered a problem with the bowsprit of her Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha.
The Golden Globe Race leader told Yachting Monthly that the stainless steel cap on the top of the bowsprit is bending slightly; she had been flying the spinnaker prior to identifying the issue.
‘The bowsprit with the rigging is slopping downwards and making its way into the wood below. And I don’t know why because there is no downward force with sailing and I have not had any collisions, so it is beyond me.’
‘It has affected my sailing a bit; I am sailing a little bit more conservative so it has probably slowed me down. I am keeping a very good eye on the bowsprit now. I have been beating since I noticed it, and it hasn’t moved. I am sure I have fallen well behind Abhilash [Tomy] by now and I want to try and win, but I need to be a little bit more careful with the bowsprit now,’ said the South African singlehanded sailor.
She is also monitoring chafe on the boat’s lines and has made repairs to her Hydrovane windvane steering, using cable ties after a grub screw came loose.
During her passage across the Pacific, one of the spinnaker poles broke, which now prevents her from flying her twin headsails.
Is she missing them?
‘It would have been nice to use them going around Cape Horn as there was some real downwind conditions, and I had a few days off the Falklands, with real downwind conditions where I would have enjoyed it. But, I just set the standard goosewing with the main, which was not as fast and not as stable, but it was better than nothing.’
”There won’t be too much dead downwinding now, so I am not really bothered. It is actually nicer not having it and just having the single sail because with the twin sail you have two sheets on one side and, if you reef the sail, you needed to put tension on both these sheets otherwise there was this unequal tension on the two wings, and now I don’t have to bother with that.’
First into the Trades
Neuschafer is the first of the fleet to cross her own track, and is now entering the South East Trades. She has chosen to take an easterly route, away from the rhumb line, unlike her nearest rival Abhilash Tomy.
‘I read up in Ocean Passages for the World what is the best route for this time of year and the route is to pass 80 miles south of the Falklands and make for a point to the east of 35°S and 30°W at this time of year, and this is what I’ve been doing. I don’t know if it was a good idea to follow the suggestions or not. I guess I am where I am,’ she said.
Ocean Passages for the World recommends that between April to August, skippers make for a central point in about 35°S and 30°W, but to the west of it.
From there, there are two routes northward. In March, it is recommended that from 35°S, sail north-northeast to 20°W and 25°S before running northward with the South East Trades to cross the equator between 22°W-25°W.
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Neuschafer says she is not thinking about an ETA for crossing the equator.
‘I am just trying to get through the Horse Latitudes and then there are the Doldrums to get through and after the Doldrums then I need to avoid getting stuck in the Azores High, so there are so many variable that I am really taking it day by day,’ she explained.
Minnehaha has a weather fax onboard, but Neuschafer is not receiving any information. She is also out of range of broadcasts by Peter Mott at Passage Guardian, who has been broadcasting weather forecasts to the Golden Globe Race entrants via their SSB radios.
Under race rules, race skippers can use their SSB Radios for receiving information, although they can’t transmit.
‘I got some weather information a few days ago. I picked up the official Brazilian weather bulletin but I can’t really hear Peter Mott anymore. The only way I can hear him is by using relays. Unfortunately, I am not getting weather fax. I can’t pick up the signal from Chile anymore. Coming down the Atlantic, I tried to pick up the signal from Rio de Janeiro and going back up I’ve tried again, but it seems they are no longer transmitting.’
‘There is not really much I can do. Sometime forecasts mention where the ITCZ is so I could try and get information from someone on SSB or Peter Mott or a passing ship, but all I can do is just follow Ocean Passages for World on where to cross and hope for the best,’ she added.
Neuschafer, who is a professional skipper, has plenty of food and water onboard, having collected 100 litres to fill her aft water tank over the last few days.
She will be using some of her water supply to clean the patches of mould from down below, although now she is in the South Atlantic, conditions are more pleasant onboard.
‘I am loving the heat. Every night, when it is calm enough, I can open up the hatches and open up the dorade vents again so the boat can breathe. I had quite a bit of condensation in the boat in the colder areas [when in the Pacific] and things do get wet and then mould does start growing, so there are some patches of mould but nothing excessive. Unless it is raining and the wind is coming in from behind, I can leave the companionway open so there is always a through draught going through the boat now.’
Heavy weather tactics
Neuschafer shared that since the start of the race, she has only had to use storm tactics twice – once by trailing warps before she rounded Cape Horn, and then heaving-to north of the Falkland Islands.
‘When the blow hit me just before Cape Horn, I used warps. I trailed 120m of warp behind and I put it through a big snatch lock from one side of the stern going right around and coming back so it was easy to retrieve. North of the Falklands, I got into a northeasterly, gusting 35 and crossed seas. It didn’t make any sense to sail against it because there was too much green water coming over the deck, so I eventually hoved-to and that worked fairly well. The boat was really stable, and really comfortable down below; nothing broke at all,’ said Neuscahfer.
Storm tactics will certainly be on the mind of fellow South African Jeremy Bagshaw, who is currently hove-to riding out a storm, with 50 knot north-westerly winds and 7 metre seas.
A large wave has smashed his sprayhood but otherwise he is fine.
The skipper of the OE23, Olleanna, who is in the Chichester class for entrants who make one stop, is 700 miles northwest of Cape Horn. He was alerted to the weather by Golden Globe Race HQ.
A second storm – with forecasted gusts of 60 knots and 9 metre seas – is expected today, and Bagsahw is trying to move above 51°S to avoid the worst of the conditions.
Fourth place Ian Herbert-Jones has now cleared the Pacific Exclusion Zone and is making good progress in steady southwesterly winds, sailing 155 miles in 24 hours aboard his Tradewind 35, Puffin.
Cape Horn is 1,500 miles away, and he is expected to round the landmark in two weeks time.
However, the UK sailor reported this morning that his mainsail has a 30cm rip near the leach, between the 2nd and 3rd reef points, which could slow his progress.
Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 09 March 2022 at 1200 UTC
Kirsten Neuschäfer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin
Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna
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
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
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