Please select your home edition
Armstrong-A-Wing-728x90 gif TOP

Golden Globe fleet dive into doldrums, frustrating first test for many

by Don McIntyre 29 Sep 23:17 PDT
Captain Coconut Mark Sinclair, the hero of the GGR 2018 and only Chichester Class finisher pulled out in Lanzarote © GGR22 / Nora Havel

A week after the fleet crossed the Lanzarote gate, Simon Curwen (UK) is leading the fleet into the Doldrums through the 10th parallel, where the elastic fleet expands and compresses depending on the conditions.

This week, it’s been mainly compression for the leaders Simon Curwen (UK) and Tapio Lehtinen (FIN), who after making most of their time west of the stormy low-pressure system are now hitting the windless wall of the Doldrums. With the wind strengthening from the North, the back of the fleet has made good progress on the leaders, and the mid fleet pack. This benefited Damien Guillou (FR) in his chase back to the top, reducing the gap from 700 miles in Lanzarote to 500 today.

There were a few changes in positions for Kirsten Neuschäfer (SA), 5th in Fuerteventura and her compatriot Jeremy Bagshaw, a close 6th then. Kirsten, spending long hours at the helm posted the best daily average with several days around 170 miles, enabling her to close on Abhilash Tomy (IND), eventually stealing 4th place from him before chasing Pat Lawless (IRL), himself catching Tapio Lehtinen (FIN), 200 miles to the east of him.

Jeremy Bagshaw (SA) who is no stranger to bold moves and options, broke away from Kirsten last Saturday for a western route into the Cape Verde islands looking for fresh winds, which he is currently clearing, but lost 3 places in the process, falling from 6th to 9th place. He is currently sailing in fresh winds 350 miles west of Elliott Smith (USA), and now has Damien Guillou (FR) and Ian Herbert-Jones (UK) following his track into the islands.

The doldrums are a windless belt around the equator where the NW trade winds of the northern hemisphere collide with the SE trades of the southern hemisphere. The heat forces the hot, humid air into the atmosphere where it transforms into pouring rain after cooling down.

This zone of weak, erratic winds, hot weathers, squalls and showers was feared in the ancient times where ships could stay for weeks at a time. Today the doldrums are no longer a danger, but for the GGR entrants with little outside communications, they can still play with the nerves.

Crossing the equator will be a first for many and the pinch of isolation is becoming real with several entrants sharing that they are missing family and friends. Others had quite surreal experiences such as Elliott Smith (USA) experiencing special offerings from the Saharan winds.

“It was a night of storm and lightning, and the next morning I wake up and there was dust everywhere, orange dirt, four dead birds on the deck, some of them decapitated, flying fish everywhere, grasshoppers and crickets, and then a big black nasty looking locusts as big as my thumb. This is when I realised I had left the hatch open… “ Elliott said on his weekly call on Wednesday, sharing how big an adventure he had taken on.

Many have ongoing problems heading in the southern hemisphere: Ertan Beskardes (UK) who experienced early electrical problems with a short-circuit and smoke, called Race Control this week reporting batteries issues, not keeping charge and that he was struggling with his power management. He had planned to stop in Cape Verde Islands for repair and continue in Chichester Class, but later decided to soldier on through the doldrums and try to solve it. He is running on minimal power now and it is obvious the batteries have been seriously damaged. He is prepared to finish the Race without power, using his emergency solar system to recharge critical safety comms.

Guy Waites (UK) has been working on his staysail cars, and spinnaker pole issues Arnaud Gaist (FRA) has been working on deck fittings, preserving his sails and is shocked at some of his running rigging that is chafing excessively.Elliot Smith re-positioned and re-stitched his mainsail clew, and found most Luff slides on the mainsail battens broken. Ian Herbert Jones is frustrated at being so far behind, but realises that for him, it is all about the voyage and enjoying the journey. Kirsten Neuschäfer seems the happiest she has been since the start and feels back in the Race! Listen to her latest weekly call here:

All are taking advantage of the doldrum to maintain and prepare the yacht for future trade winds. They find solace in their regular HF radio session chats, comparing positions and passing on weather information.

Meanwhile this week, Mark “Coconut” Sinclair, the popular Australian sailor decided to pull into Lanzarote and retire from the GGR 2022 “ I wanted to start this edition but it was a big effort to get ready and I think I am just tired. I had planned to make landfall in Cape Town and attend my son’s wedding, continuing the voyage in Chichester class, but it’s been a slow start and I am now two weeks behind schedule. I won’t be in time in South Africa, and probably not at the Hobart gate before January 31.”

Mark, a former Australian Navy commander and cartographer, also mentioned some medical follow-up and surgery and other pending issues since he has been away from home for ten month. He left Adelaïde in December 2021, crossing to Les Sables d’Olonne in 174 days, spending another 100 days full time without a break to get Coconut ready for the start with little time for anything else.

In Fuerteventura, Guy deBoer (USA) has reunited with his Tashiba 36 Spirit, which has been lifted off the rocks where he landed on September 18th. Spirit’s salvage involved building a sand road for the mobile crane and the low-bed truck to get to the boat, getting the mast off and lifting the boat onto a low-bed truck. Driving it out was easy without extra damage. Sadly, the boat has been visited in the meantime, with a significant amount of material including the Hydrovane, Watt & See generator, winches and other material were stolen for a value exceeding USD 50,000.

In Fuerteventura, a chain of solidarity formed around Guy and his injured yacht, some local friends having found a piece of land for Spirit’s repairs. “It looks like I’m sorted, the landlord is friends with the crane operator who is ready to bring Spirit to the property and set-it up. We’re now getting the wood to build Spirit’s cradle”. Said Guy deBoer. It’s a relief for the American sailor who had been frustrated in finding a solution for his boat.

This week is all about the fleet compressing from the back as the leaders are hitting the doldrums hard, but next week should be about offerings to Neptune, and the Southern trade winds toward the next mark: Trindade Island!

Watch out for entrant onboard footage being released on GGR Youtube here!

For more information visit

Related Articles

Golden Globe Race lifesaving regulations
Asteria sinking, lessons to be learnt Many people talk about the eye watering effort GGR entrants make to meet the tough safety and qualifying requirements of this gruelling mind game called the Golden Globe. When all the boxes are ticked, they finally receive a "green card". Posted on 29 Nov
Tapio Lehtinen rescued in the Indian Ocean
Picked up by fellow Golden Globe Race competitor GGR entrant Kirsten Neuschäfer (ZAF) was first to reach Tapio's position this morning at 0510 UTC. The South African sailor whisked GGR Veteran and Finnish sailing legend, Tapio Lehtinen, from his liferaft where he had been since Friday 0700 UTC. Posted on 19 Nov
Tapio Lehtinen abandons ship in Golden Globe Race
Liferaft floats 460 nautical miles SE of Port Elizabeth, South Africa Tapio Lehtinen is sailing in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (GGR). He departed from Les Sables d'Olonne France on September 4th this year and after passing through the Cape Town film gate, was heading toward Australia in the Southern Ocean. Posted on 18 Nov
Golden Globe sailors through Cape Town gate
Pat Lawless and Damien Guillou forced to retire due to wind vane failures Two front runners of the Golden Globe Race have retired into Cape Town with wind vane failures. Damien Guillou arrived in Cape Town this monday having lost his windvane rudder. Posted on 15 Nov
Golden Globe sailors through Cape Town gate
The Southern Ocean on their doorstep! Dreams shattered for a $20 part, some too slow to finish the challenge, others living life to the extreme and loving it, while a few are troubled by the mind game that is the Golden Globe. Posted on 10 Nov
Golden Globe Race arriving at the Cape Town Gate
Simon Curwen (UK) should be the first arrival on Sunday afternoon Simon Curwen (UK), first arrival on Sunday afternoon, South African entrants Kirsten Neuschäfer in 2nd place Monday afternoon and Jeremy Bagshaw in 9th place with serious Barnacle problems, 1200 miles to go. Posted on 4 Nov
Golden Globe Race Cape Town Gate gets interesting
Battling High Pressure Systems, barnacles (again) and local hero makes a big bet GGR fleet on the way to Cape Town, last call before the Southern Ocean, battling High Pressure Systems and barnacles (again), and a local hero making a big bet! Posted on 3 Nov
Golden Globe Race windvane safety
And GGR 2026 open for entries Deep in the Southern Ocean battling 12 mtr seas and 70kt winds, you need to know your self-steering gear will keep working. If it fails you are seriously struggling to keep the odds in your favour that you will still be smiling when it blows over! Posted on 27 Oct
Damien Guillou breaks windvane in the Golden Globe
Tapio in the lead, but is he really? Next gate favours eastern positioned yachts Cards are reshuffled and more breakage as the South Atlantic starts testing boats and sailors on their way to the Southern Ocean, and the next film drop in Cape Town. Posted on 21 Oct
Trade wind twist for Golden Globe Race fleet
Wet windy trades on the nose with confused sea sand low 30 degrees temperatures Following weeks of upwind sailing out of Europe, and a nerve-racking doldrum experience, the fleet was desperate for beam reaching trade winds to Trindade and on to Cape Town. Posted on 13 Oct
Festival of Sails 2023 - FOOTERRS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER