Please select your home edition

Golden Globe Race - Day 173: Longest day in the Southern Ocean

by Barry Pickthall, Golden Globe Race 21 Dec 2018 11:40 PST 21 December 2018
Mark Slats - still smiling © GGR

Today is the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere so the sun has the largest declination to the south for all using a sextant to navigate. It also often marks a period of unsettled weather but all seems fine for the GGR fleet for now. The thoughts of skippers are towards Christmas mixed with their drive to the finish line back at Les Sables d'Olonne.

Third placed Uku Randmaa rounded Cape Horn at 04:00 UTC on Wednesday (19th Dec). The 55-year old Estonian, has been here once before during a previous circumnavigation in 2011/12, but the emotional sighting was just as great: His text messages said it all: IT IS UNBELIEVABLE THAT I CAN SEE THE HORN. I AM THANKFUL FOR MY GODS followed by: THANKS TO SIR ROBIN FOR THE FOOTSTEPS AND ST MAWES SC FOR THE CAKE!

He is of course referring to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 50 years ago and to the 'Aunt Eileen' fruit cake that sustained Sir Robin that day, faithfully replicated by a Cornish baker and presented to each GGR skipper by members of the St Mawes Sailing Club in Cornwall for them to open at the Horn.

Uku and his Rustler 36 One and All were then becalmed for a period, but now taking full advantage of westerly reaching winds to pass to the East of the Falkland Islands, hoping perhaps to miss the worst of the headwinds that Mark Slats is experiencing. There is no settled weather pattern for the region at this time of the year so no right or wrong way to head north. One thing is for sure; after months of savage Southern Ocean conditions,Uku is enjoying the opportunity of lesser wind and lower swells.


2,163 miles ahead, Mark Slats sailing the second Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick, continues to surprise everyone with his sustained high speed to windward, regularly making 6 knots. The forecast shows continued headwinds for many days to come and in a text message yesterday, the Dutchman admitted: ALL GOOD. LIFE IS A LITTLE BORING HERE BEATING TO WINDWARD!

When you live at a constant angle of heal everything is hard to do: eating, sleeping and doing anything on a spray-soaked deck. He is also too busy trying to catch Van Den Heede to focus on Christmas, and during the stress of departure, he reported this week that he had forgotten to pack any of his presents!

Jean-Luc, sailing yet another Rustler 36 Matmut may be seeing Slats whittling away his lead bit by bit at, but knows that his wind angle gets better every day that he moves further north at 5-6 knots. He must be dreaming now about easing sheets and turning the corner around the South American bulge to benefit from the Caribbean trade winds. It has been hard work, especially with a damaged mast, but he is making good progress. His Christmas present will be seeing Matmut regain some of her lead lost to Ohpen Maverick since rounding Cape Horn, but whenever he looks up at his mast, he knows there is still a long way to the finish!

Jean-Luc's Xmas message to all his followers is: WISHING EVERYONE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR 2019

4th placed American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar currently sits between two areas of heavy weather, one to the North, the other South. He survived his biggest storm so far yesterday, and now has his Tradewind 35 Puffin running East as fast as possible. He is very happy onboard now that he has collected rain water to drink and while he will be living the Southern Ocean life for another week or more (Puffin is currently 1,300 miles West of Cape Horn), Istvan is looking forward to Christmas, and hopefully will be celebrating the New Year in the Atlantic.


In a safety call to Race HQ today, Istvan added: "No decorations, but I will be changing my underwear and having a shave on Christmas Day. I've also fixed my cassette player so will have some Xmas songs to drink a special desert wine with that I have onboard. It will be a very lonely Xmas... the hardest ever... I'll be thinking of family and missing them."

5th placed Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen sailing the Gaia 36 Asteria has pre-Xmas plans to clean barnacles from her hull without swimming. Instead of diving overboard and running a gauntlet between hungry sharks, he intended to try swinging out on the end of the spinnaker halyard, and using the boat hook with scraper attached, to walk along the hull like a rock climber. The weather maps show a near calm so we hope he is successful. Tapio wants to make Les Sables d'Olonne Agglomeration before April 22 - the GGR prize giving final party!


Russian skipper Igor Zaretskiy returned to Moscow today for a health check. If all proves well, he will be back on his Endurance 35 Esmeralda within a week and restarting the GGR from Albany, Western Australia in the Chichester Class. If not, he has until 14th January to restart, or wait for the winter season in the Southern Ocean to pass and restart after November 14.

Explaining this restart announcement made by GGR organisers today, Don McIntyre, Race Chairman says: "It is important for safety and risk minimisation for us to know that Igor will round Cape Horn no later than the end of March when the winter storms in the Southern Ocean start to become prevalent. We have used the sailing progress set by Istvan Kopar from Cape Leeuwin and added an additional 3 days to calculate a total sailing time to the Horn of 78 days. Should Igor have an operation, then he will need to undergo another GGR medical and gain a release from his doctor that he is good to sail. We wish Igor well in the coming days and hope to see him back in the Race very soon."

Following our update on Gregor McGuckin's Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance on Monday, two groups have expressed interest in salvaging the yacht currently drifting some 1,200 miles West of Fremantle. The main attraction it seems is the barrel of Glendalough 7-year-old 777 single malt Irish whiskey onboard. The recovery of his boat would also make a great Christmas present for Gregor too!

For the GGR team it is business as usual 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week and we will continue to post news as it happens on

On New Year's Day it will be exactly 6 months since the start of the Golden Globe Race from Les Sables d'Olonne so we will be saying cheers to our sponsor Champagne Mumm. And so too will our skippers. Two bottles were loaded aboard each yacht before the start, so even Mark Slats will have something to celebrate with!

Related Articles

Golden Globe Race 2019 overall
Final GGR finisher takes 5th place Barnacle growth was the root cause of Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen's slow solo circumnavigation but the 110 day difference between his and Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede's time was definitely enjoyable. Posted on 20 May
Golden Globe Race day 322
Tapio Lehtinen takes 5th place Tapio Lehtinen, the 5th and final placed Finnish skipper competing in the Golden Globe Race crossed the finish line at 20:21 hours today accompanied by Bernard Moitessier's famous yacht Joshua and a flottila of excited wellwishers Posted on 19 May
Golden Globe Race day 312
Now 1,100miles from the finish line Tapio Lehtinen, the fifth and final placed Finnish skipper competing in the Golden Globe Race enjoyed an unexpected rendezvous off Faial Island in the Azores yesterday with the local representative of his Windpilot self-steering sponsor. Posted on 9 May
Celebrating Sir Robin and Earth Day
And a cleaner vision for our planet This week marks the 50th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's mind-bending solo circumnavigation, and a day when people consider ideas for lowering our species' collective environmental wake. Posted on 23 Apr
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede crowned winner
2018 Golden Globe Race prize giving held in Falmouth Exactly 50 years to the day that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston returned to Falmouth UJK after 312 days at sea to become the first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe, 73-year old Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede was crowned winner. Posted on 23 Apr
Sailor's salute Sir Robin
On 50 year anniversary of Golden Globe victory Britain's leading sailors are paying tribute to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston today on the 50th anniversary of the date, 22 April 1969, that he entered history books as the first person to ever sail solo, non-stop around the world. Posted on 22 Apr
Golden Globe Race day 284
Tapio Lehtinen crosses Equator As Tapio Lehtinen, the last of the Golden Globe race skippers, crossed the Equator on Tuesday to start the last part of his solo circumnavigation back to Les Sables d'Olonne, plans are now well advanced for the GGR prize-giving celebrations Posted on 11 Apr
Two additional skippers complete the GGR 2018
Golden Globe Race podium complete at last While it's tempting to get sucked into the latest round-the-buoys results from destinations exotic or far removed, it's also important to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the Golden Globe Race 2018 skippers. Posted on 26 Mar
Golden Globe Race day 263
Istvan Kopar secures fourth place American Hungarian solo yachtsman Istvan Kopar finally reached the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne, France at 13:58 UTC today to take 4th place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race. Posted on 21 Mar
Golden Globe Race day 260
Kopar was making 5.1knots, having managed to cover 120 miles Day 260: At 04:00 UTC today, American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar and his Tradewind 35 yacht Puffin was within 250 miles of the finish line and expected to reach Les Sables d'Olonne around 09:00 UTC on Thursday 21st March. Posted on 18 Mar
Marine Resources 2019 - FooterVaikobi 2019 - Footer 1Melges 14 2019 Footer