The end is in sight for solo skipper Mark Sinclair, who is around two weeks out from finishing the 2018 Golden Globe Race

The 2018 Golden Globe Race is almost at the end for its last singlehanded skipper – Mark Sinclair.

But it has been far from easy.

His Lello 34, Coconut has a damaged forestay and staysail inner forestay, light and variable winds for most of the time in the Atlantic has meant slow progress towards the finish and he has no working sat phones after the the yacht was knocked down multiple times yesterday (16 May 2022) during a Storm Force 9 gale around 900 miles west of Les Sables d’Olonne.

Mark, 63, is sailing in the race under the Chichester Class, having stopped in Adelaide due to diminishing water supplies and barnacle growth on the hull.

Mark Sinclair is planning on taking part in the 2022 Golden Globe Race...he just needs to finish the 2018 event! Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Mark Sinclair is planning on taking part in the 2022 Golden Globe Race…he just needs to finish the 2018 event! Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

He restarted the race three years later, leaving on 5 December 2021 with the aim of being the event’s sixth finisher; he also plans to take part in the Golden Globe Race 2022, which starts on 4 September 2022.

Known to his fans as Captain Coconut, Mark rounded Cape Horn in February 2022, sailing Coconut through 50 knot winds and 6 metre seas.

The Australian hydrographic consultant has since made slow but steady progress up the Atlantic but is now blighted by problems with his rig.

The Lello 34 Coconut being sailed during the 2018 Golden Globe Race

Coconut has a damaged forestay and staysail inner forestay. Credit: Tim Bishop/GGR/PPL

‘Last Tuesday (10 May 2022) in the middle of the night I heard all of this banging. I got up and the staysail was flogging at the luff. I went up there and had a look and the uniform stay had detached exactly like the forestay had detached at the top of the mast and was just being held up by the halyard, so I didn’t have a forestay or an inner forestay and I thought this isn’t good,’ he told Golden Globe Race chairman, Don McIntyre.

‘I braced everything up for the night. Wednesday I was up the mast in a bosun’s chair for an hour. I couldn’t put that inner forestay back to where it should be but I put a big D shackles through the lug on the mast and two D shackles from that to the lug that hangs up the top of the forestay. I have now  tightened it up as best I can by moving the furler up and tightening them at the bottom. I have an inner forestay again,’ said Sinclair.

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He said the failure of two split pins on the forestay and inner forestay were to blame, but Coconut is “over rigged’ with lowers, intermediaries and tops, so the rig does have ‘some redundancy’, although he is concerned about his repaired forestay and the headsail furler extrusion gyrating.

He was hove-to under trysail during 30 knot southwesterly winds and 5-6 metre seas when Coconut was knocked down several times.

Sailor Mark Sinclair wearing a black tshirt and glasses

Mark Sinclair is a big fan of heaving-to when sailing in heavy weather. Credit: Mark Sinclair/GGR/PPL

Although the storm is now moving north, the knockdowns means his satellite phones, which he is allowed to use during weekly checks with race HQ, are no longer working.

He has also lost his number 4 staysail in the heavy weather after it was swept away. His number 3 jib has also be shredded in the Gale Force 9 winds. Coconut’s metal HF radio receiver whip on the boat’s transom has also been bent 90° by the waves.

He also shared some of the highlights of the last few weeks, including a 20ft whale which surfaced around 5m ahead of Coconut, and an overnight guest – a swallow which spent the night down below.

‘I still have drinking water and am now eating a lot of dehydrated food. I have drunk all the good drinks so my treat is now a flask of made up skimmed powdered milk. I have a few tins of beans left and pepper steak but all the nice things have gone. I did have dehydrated sweet and sour pork the other day and it was quite good actually,’ shared an upbeat Sinclair.

A lello 34 yacht sailing during the 2018 Golden Globe Race

Coconut is a Lello 34 and was built in 1980. Credit: Mark Sinclair/PPL/GGR

‘The only thing keeping me going is BBC Radio 4, but the programmes are recycled so I listen to The Archers twice a day, but some of the programmes are good so I am being educated on BBC Radio 4 which is quite quaint.’

Sinclair is still hoping to cross the 2018 Golden Globe Race finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne on 28 May 2022, earlier if the breeze improves.

‘If the breeze comes in I will be in in seven days, if not it will be two weeks,’ he said.

What is the 2018 Golden Globe Race?

The 2018 Golden Globe Race was held 50 years after the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, which was won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the race’s only finisher.

Skippers taking part had to sail around the world, alone, using no modern boat equipment. GPS, weather routing and autopilots were not allowed.

Essentially they had to sail their pre-1988 production long-keeled 32ft-36ft boats by navigating with charts, the stars and other celestial bodies – celestial navigation – and using only the equipment available to the 1968-69 skippers.

The race began on 1 July 2018 from Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast.

18 skippers started but only five finished. Some abandoned the race after their boats were dismasted, and three of the sailors had to be rescued from the Southern Ocean. Others found the solidarity of being alone too much or suffered gear failure.

All of those who finished the race had circumnavigated around the world before.

The winner was French offshore sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede who made it round in 211 days.

The 2022 Golden Globe Race will start from Les Sable d’Olonne on 4 September 2022.

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