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Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

An action-packed October in the Global Solo Challenge

by Margherita Pelaschier / Global Solo Challenge 6 Oct 2023 03:35 PDT
Cole Bauer on Class40 `First Light` arriving in A Coruña - Global Solo Challenge © Samuel Hodges Photography

The challenge is on: four skippers are already at sea living their dream in the Global Solo Challenge. Another three are preparing to set sail in two weeks, and the docks at Marina Coruña are beginning to welcome other skippers, including the nine competitors who will animate the event's most significant departure on October 28.

Dafydd Hughes, the Welsh skipper and trailblazer of the fleet, is already sailing in the Southern Ocean. On Tuesday, he excitedly announced reaching another minor milestone in his round-the-world journey, having crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at latitude 23 degrees 26' 16" south. Always ready to communicate, the Welsh skipper shares with those following him on land how he's experiencing the navigation these days: "All is well here, and even Bendigedig is much happier to sail again in a steady and favorable wind, after crossing the Saint Helena high, where conditions were much more unstable and harder to manage. In recent days, I've noticed an increase in the wind, and it didn't even feel like I was sailing in the same ocean, but I was prepared and had already reduced sail."

Entering the Southern Ocean, with still mild temperatures, doesn't seem too challenging for the duo: "We're maintaining a good daily average and are almost on course. The solar panels are still working, thanks to the sun still peeking through the clouds. It's warm, I'm sitting at the chart table writing and still wearing summer clothes, shorts, and a t-shirt. I know this won't last long, but it feels good."

Dafydd is always proud of his S&S 34's performance and continues to be thrilled when they ride the waves together. "Bendigedig is a great traveling companion and is behaving like the superstar she is. She's taking great care of me, and I'm taking care of her. All her primary systems are working as scheduled. Watching how she tackles the waves, yielding to them in perfect harmony and maintaining a steady course, is a real pleasure."

Regarding the mainland, Dafydd certainly misses his family and friends, but the real luxury for him would be: "a bed that doesn't move and knowing I can sleep uninterrupted for at least seven hours," he jokes.

From a food perspective, he seems satisfied with his provisions: "I'm eating very well. Every day, around 11:00, I prepare a large bowl of muesli, to which I add a mix of raisins, coconut flakes, dried apricots, dates, and finally, sambuca. My cousin Kate McGeever sent me special ingredients and supplements to add to all my dishes to make them tastier and more nutritious, like blackcurrant powder, almond butter, and yeast flakes. Try this: almond butter spread on a digestive biscuit, sensational. Before I left, I prepared three different kinds of olive oil flavored with garlic, chili, and herbs. Last night, I had ham and mashed potatoes, with a touch of garlic olive oil that really made a difference. Besides, extra virgin olive oil is very nutritious."

In short, Dafydd's balance after the first forty days at sea seems very positive: "Mentally and physically, I feel good. I study the weather, short-term - for the next two or three days - to plan the navigation, and I believe we're doing quite well for now."

The other three skippers, who started in pursuit, are still in the northern hemisphere. On Sunday, October 1st, Édouard De Keyser communicated that he intended to stop for technical repairs to the rudder, bowsprit, and satellite communication systems in Mindelo, in the Cape Verde archipelago. According to the GSC regulations, Édouard will not be subject to time penalties as he won't land and won't seek any external help remaining at anchor in the bay.

Read the full article here...

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