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 The others have withdrawn due to their boats sinking or no longer being in working condition, or the skippers just pulling out with injury or exhaustion.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.