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Global Solo Challenge: Robein's departure delayed due to technical issues

by Margherita Pelaschier 22 Sep 04:10 PDT
Louis Robein - Global Solo Challenge © Louis Robein

Reaching the starting line is often the most challenging phase of a project. French skipper Louis Robein, an entry in the Global Solo Challenge, is no exception.

Robein, a former Figaro sailor and highly experienced solo navigator, had meticulously prepared his boat "Le souffle de la mer III". Every stage of the project had been anticipated; for example, he had already completed the 2000-mile solo qualifier by the end of April 2022. But at sea, the unexpected is commonplace.

To reach La Coruña early and share the journey with friends and students from UNADEV (Union Nationale des Aveugles et Déficients Visuels), Louis had set off from Marina di Cogolin, in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, where he is based, in mid-August.

During his transfer to La Coruña, the engine of his X-37 'Le souffle de la mer III' began to experience overheating issues that didn't appear to be related to the cooling circuit. After an initial stop in Cartagena and makeshift repairs, Louis reached Faro, Portugal, where he stopped to attempt final resolution of the issue. The intervention of a mechanic clarified the nature of the problem, identified as an issue with the glow plug circuit that remained engaged even after the engine had started. The engine overheating had caused various damages and necessitated the replacement of the glow plug circuit and the engine's main head gasket.

After a futile wait of over a week, the necessary components to fix the engine had not yet arrived in Faro. In coordination with the organization of the Global Solo Challenge, Robein evaluated the options available to him.

The Yanmar distributor in Galicia made itself available to provide the missing components for the repair as quickly as possible. Robein decided to set sail again during the night between September 18 and 19, heading for La Coruña. Louis, without a functioning engine, must sail for a distance of 500 miles, and the transfer will last about four days. Fortunately, starting from Wednesday, September 20, Robein encountered favorable winds north of Lisbon that aided him in the transfer of his X-37, 'Le Souffle de la Mer III'. His arrival at Marina Coruña is expected between Friday and Saturday.

During the night between September 20 and 21, a charming coincidence occurred: around 1:45 a.m. local time, Louis, heading north, crossed paths seven and a half miles to the east, north of Lisbon, with Édouard De Keyser who was heading south. This marks the first time in the Global Solo Challenge that a competitor in transit has crossed paths with one in the race. Surely, this will serve as a good omen to motivate Louis to soon follow the path marked by the first two participants.

Meanwhile, we hope the missing components arrive as soon as possible and that the planned engine work can be completed quickly. Due to these technical issues, Robein is forced to postpone his departure, initially scheduled for September 23. Furthermore, upon arriving in La Coruña, Louis will also need to complete all safety and administrative checks before getting the green light to set sail. The French skipper is facing these circumstances with his usual tenacity, not allowing himself to be discouraged by the difficulties encountered.

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