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Chinese solo sailor caught in the Doldrums

by Sail-World Cruising on 18 Dec 2012
Guo Chuan on the winch of his Class 40 called Qingdao after his hometown .. .
What's disturbing a Chinese solo sailor attempting to sail a circumnavigation of the world non-stop and unassisted in a Class 40 racing boat, is not gales or cyclones, but no wind - or little wind - at all, according to his land-based support team.

As Guo Chuan has been passing through the area of the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) or the Doldrums, he has found the going frustratingly slow.

In fact, the greatest worry was that the mast could be damaged by the incessant swinging of the mainsail in the lumpy seas caused by disturbances elsewhere.

'The yacht hardly sailed forward when there was little wind, while in-situ swinging with the waves was a great threat to the mainsail,' Guo said through a satellite phone.

Starting from Qingdao, a port city of east China, on November 18, Guo has been sailing in the vicinity of the Solomon Islands this last week.

'I must watch out for alarm and any abnormal sound and make timely adjustment, to avoid big damage to the in-situ yacht.' Guo said.

Besides, Guo said he was very anxious with his current conditions as he was eager to set sail again and continually searched the horizon for any sign of wind coming. However, with the southern hemisphere and Cape Horn in front of him, the lack of wind wasn't all negative.

'The lack of wind indeed provided me a great opportunity to repair some devices of the yacht, like the radar and the spare anemoscope.' he said.


The wind has been coming in stronger and stronger since last Friday, and Guo has reached the southeast of Solomon Islands, heading for Cape Horn. As his route has taken him past the Solomons, he has had to deal, not only with the ITCZ, but also the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), the scourge of sailors in the eastern Pacific in the southern hemisphere.

The 47-year-old Guo was the first Chinese sailor to take part in the Clipper Round the World (2006) and the first Chinese to complete the Volvo Ocean Race (2008-2009).

His goal is to travel 21,600 nautical miles in about 130 days, in his Class 40 boat 'Qingdao', named after his hometown.

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