A major storm looks likely to overtake fourth place Golden Globe Race skipper Istvan Kopar in the Southern Ocean

Solo sailor Istvan Kopar has been advised by Golden Globe Race organisers to move his Tradewind 35, Puffin south to avoid a violent storm in the Southern Ocean.

The American/Hungarian skipper, who currently lies in fourth place, has been given permission to enter the race’s no-go zone to try and escape the worst of the weather, which is expected to reach him tomorrow (14 December 2018).

Race HQ also gave similar advice to Estonian Uku Randmaa to avoid the same storm which dismasted Susie Goodall’s yacht last week.

Race chairman, Don McIntyre said: ‘We have just advised Istvan to head south as fast as possible. We hope he can make at least 180 miles, which is the lower marker on the distance track. We then have to hope the forecast track of this storm will be correct. Going south has risks because it takes him closer to the centre of the storm and sudden wind shift zone, But if he gets south he may miss the worst of it.”

Istvan Kopar in red waves goodbye as he leaves Hobart

Istvan Kopar has struggled with his self-steering gear since the start of the race. Credit: Jessie Martin/PPL/GGR

Kopar is also struggling with steering issues on Puffin and doesn’t have a working radio to receive weather reports. As a result, he is reliant on Race HQ to advise him about approaching storms as a safety measure. The 65-year-old is also running low on water.

Meanwhile Susie Goodall is expected to arrive at Punta Arenas in Chile tomorrow having been rescued last week when her Rustler 36, DHL Starlight pitchpoled and dismasted some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn.

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Goodall is not the only Golden Globe Race skipper to have pitchpoled., Current race leader, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede was left with damage to the connecting bolt attachment to his mast that holds all four lower shrouds when his Rustler 36, Matmut pitchpoled in the Southern Ocean.

The 73-year-old, who is now in the Atlantic Ocean, chose to repair his mast at sea, but has stated he is now sailing  the rest of the race in “safe transport mode”.

He is facing pressure from second placed Mark Slats, who rounded Cape Horn on 2 December 2018, and is now gaining on him.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede wearing a hat on board his boat

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede predicts he will cross the finish line on 23 January 2019. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

At 12:00 UTC today, Matmut’s lead over Mark Slats rival Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick was down to 946 miles, a loss of 76 miles during the past nine days.

Race HQ have said that’s not enough of an average to overtake Van Den Heede, who is predicting he will cross the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne in France on 23 January 2019.

Van Den Heede is also facing headwinds, which is likely to slow him down . Matmut’s fragile mast means the French skipper must try to keep the wind aft of the beam as upwind he runs the risk of the boat slamming and sending shockwaves up the mast.

Slats doesn’t have a damaged boat, and he is continuing to drive Ohpen Maverick hard to make gains on the leader.

Mark Sinclair has decided to retire from the race. Credit: Riaan Smit/PPL/GGR

Uku Randmaa, who is in third place, is predicting he will round Cape Horn between Monday (17 December 2018) and Wednesday (19 December 2018).

Fifth placed Tapio Lehtinen, 60,  is still making slow progress, although the barnacles, which were slowing down his Gaia 36, Asteria appear to no longer be a problem after sharks ate them from the hull.

The crustaceans have, though, led Russia’s Igor Zaretskiy to wish he had applied another coast of anti-foul to his Endurance 35, Esmeralda.

The 67-year-old has made port in Albany, Western Australia, and is now demoted to the Chichester Class for entrants who make one stop.

Barnacles growing on the hull of a yacht

Barnacles seriously affected Igor Zaretskiy’s speed in the Golden Globe Race. Credit: GGR/PPL

The hull of Esmeralda was covered in barnacles when Zaretskiy hauled the yacht out to clean her and to replace a broken forestay.

The Russian is hoping to restart the race on Monday (17 December 2018).

Australian Mark Sinclair whose Lello 34 Coconut has also been plagued by barnacle growth, has announced he is retiring from the race, after reaching his home port of Adelaide last week.

He said that barnacles had slowed his yacht considerably, and though a team of friends had rallied round to clean the hull and make other repairs to the boat, he was concerned that reaching Cape Horn in early March was a little late in the season.

Latest positions at 12:00 UTC 12 December 2018

1 Jean- Luc VDH (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
2 Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
3 Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
4 Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
5 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria

Chichester Class

Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda


Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut