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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Last week at sea for Riccardo Tosetto and equipment fatigue in Global Solo Challenge

by Marco Nannini / Global Solo Challenge 25 Mar 08:57 PDT 25 March 2024
Riccardo Tosetto - Obportus © Riccardo Tosetto

Riccardo Tosetto has put the foot on the gas and must certainly feel a sense of anticipation for his imminent arrival. He has finally found the following winds he had been looking for by heading north on his long detour around the Azores high pressure system.

With less than 900 miles to go and a forecast for sustained following winds his eyes are firmly focused on A Coruna where he is expected to arrive for Saturday 30th or possibly even earlier. A depression is forming and will move over Riccardo between Wednesday and Thursday, despite bringing some rather heavy winds at times it will certainly ensure plenty of wind to reach the finish line.

The Italian skipper must be really longing for his arrival especially as the last few days have seen him battle with new challenges, his beloved Code Zero, a sail he had very frequently used in medium following winds, fatigued after so many miles at sea, tore in the middle of the night a couple of days ago.

Soon after, Riccardo's primary autopilot started to get stuck occasionally. For no apparent reason the arm would lock into centre position causing a surge of draw of electricity and a voltage dip. The Italian skipper swapped for his secondary drive that had caused him some issues before but which seems to be functioning for now and hopefully until the finish.

Last week we were wondering how the duel between Riccardo Tosetto on Obportus and Francois Gouin on Kawan3 Unicancer would pan out, with lots depending on the weather developments. With the Italian skipper's route looking like a straight motorway with following winds the French Skipper can't have been too happy to see that the forecast has started to show an expanding Azores' high, moving southeast and creating a wide ridge which blocks the way north and around the system.

Francois has had to accept the cards he was dealt and is currently sailing southeast on a rather unfavourable tack which should allow him to find north westerly winds by midweek and finally sail directly towards Galicia. However the developments of the weather forecast will probably cost him a lot of additional time compared to Riccardo. Last week the two had about 250 miles in difference of distance to the finish, the gap has doubled over the weekend to around 500 miles and currently it looks like Francois may arrive as much as 4-5 days after Riccardo towards the middle of the first week in April.

David Linger has made excellent progress to the north in steady winds and is now just 500 miles from crossing the equator and getting back in the northern hemisphere. The area of the doldrums and the tropical calms however may cause the American skipper to be slowed down considerably until he can breach through and make his way into the NE trade winds. With more than 3600 miles to sail and two areas of calms to deal with (equatorial and tropical calms) it is too early to be able to make reliable forecasts but I would imagine he will need another 4 weeks to reach A Coruna.

Louis Robein, considering he has no working autopilot, has managed to make progress over the weekend covering approximately 200 miles towards Cape Horn which is now just over 700 miles to the south east. I have been in contact with Louis who says no autopilot is only an issue in that it slows him down, unable to cover great daily distances. He is forced to steer by hand and then let the boat advance as best as he can when he needs to rest, often resorting to a running heaving to position, where the head sail is put on an opposite tack to the mainsail but rather than stopping the boat dead to the wind it is allowed to drift making at least some progress even whilst the skipper catches on sleep.

After discussing the situation with Louis, we have agreed to inform MRCC Chile of the situation, just as a precautionary measure and without requiring any assistance, rather to exchange information on the situation and provide details of boat and skipper should they ever be needed.

Meanwhile we are also trying to determine which would be the closest port of call where Louis could get assistance for his technical issues, which, in any case, requires that the French skipper reaches Cape Horn first. We will keep you posted on any developments.

The long battle continues for those at sea, equipment fatigue and failure becomes more and more frequent as we are closing in the 5th month at sea Riccardo, Francois and David and the 6th for Louis.

Continue reading the full article here...

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