Solo sailor’s tough call


ADE­LAIDE sailor Mark Sin­clair is half­way through a race around the world and has a big de­ci­sion to make: is it safe to con­tinue?

Sin­clair, who’s a mem­ber of the Royal Ade­laide Yacht Squadron, stopped in Ade­laide on Fri­day af­ter hav­ing sailed unas­sisted for 158 days from Les Sables-D’Olom­mer, France.

It has been a gru­elling chal­lenge: 18 yachts be­gan the Golden Globe Race on July 1 and only eight skip­pers re­main. The oth­ers have with­drawn due to their boats sink­ing or no longer be­ing in work­ing con­di­tion, or the skip­pers just pulling out with in­jury or ex­haus­tion.

The race’s youngest com­peti­tor, English yachtswoman Susie God­dall, 29, was res­cued by a cargo ship west off Cape Horn this week af­ter her boat cap­sized.

The con­cept of the race is to cel­e­brate Sir Robin KnoxJohn­ston’s 1968-69 world-first sole cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion 50 years on, and there are races planned ev­ery four years from here.

The chal­lenge for the skip­pers is that they have to repli­cate Knox-John­ston’s con­di­tions — sail in boats around 10m, have no ac­cess to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy or satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, be unas­sisted and not make any stops.

That means col­lect­ing rain­wa­ter for drink­ing and hav­ing packed enough food.

Sin­clair’s stop means he is now in­el­i­gi­ble to win the race, be­cause with one stop he drops down to what is called the “Chich­ester” class, in which com­peti­tors can make a sin­gle stop.

Sin­clair, 60, is now weigh­ing up whether to con­tinue, as he has pulled up his boat to clean off bar­na­cles and top up on flu­ids at the yacht squadron at Outer Har­bor.

“I ran out of wa­ter,” Sin­clair said. “I was try­ing to col­lect rain but prob­a­bly wasn’t sail­ing south enough to get into the weather sys­tems.”

It took Sin­clair three months just to cross the In­dian Ocean, do­ing four knots an hour in a 10m yacht.

“The main de­ci­sion I’ve got to make is, ‘Can I get to Cape Horn in rea­son­able time be­fore the bad weather?,” he said.

“I’ve got to form a de­ci­sion on that in the next few days.

“Whether I stop here in Ade­laide and say the rest of the cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion is for an­other day.

“Five boats have been sunk on this ad­ven­ture.

“The fact that I’ve got here alive is an amaz­ing thing.”

DE­CI­SION TIME: Mark Sin­clair is pon­der­ing whether to con­tinue in the global yacht race.

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