Twelve left to contest the Golden Globe
French offshore racer Philippe Péché remains at the head of the Golden Globe fleet as the race enters its second month.
But Péché, 57, is facing pressure from Vendée Globe veteran Jean-luc van den Heede, 73, his biggest rival, and Dutch sailor, Mark Slats, who solo circumnavigated the world in 2004/5.
The trio, who are all racing Rustler 36 yachts, passed through the Golden Globe’s first gate in Lanzarote with only a handful of miles between them and have now cleared the Doldrums.
Slats, who is the 2017 winner of the Talisker Challenge singlehanded class, has installed oars on his boat to give him the edge in light winds.
Of the 17 skippers who started, just 12 were left in the main event at the time YM went to press. The UK’S Ertan Beskardes, Australian Kevin Farebrother and Nabil Amra have all retired.
Farebrother and Amra both withdrew after self-steering gear problems – an issue that has also caused problems for other skippers.
Farebrother, 50, also experienced severe fatigue as a result of hand steering his Tradewind 35 yacht Sagarmatha, and he struggled to get into the routine of solo sailing.
Palestinian skipper Amra faced a weld failure on his self-steering gear, which forced him to return to the Canary Islands.
He said he still felt like a winner, after overcoming numerous challenges to start the race, such as the delayed refit of his Biscay 36, Liberty II. ‘The truth lies in the statement “To make it to the start is the win”,’ he said.
For Ertan Beskardes, the loneliness of being a single-handed sailor was too much. After stopping in La Coruña in Galicia, north-west Spain, he told Yachting Monthly that not being able to communicate with his family made the race difficult.
‘Soon after the start, I stopped enjoying my days and my adventure due to isolation which I felt (was a) price I did not want pay.
‘It was a cruise not a race for me,’ he said.
Meanwhile, French skipper, Antoine Cousot and American Istvan Kopar are now in the Chichester Class for those who are forced to make one stop during their circumnavigation. Cousot stopped at Rubicon Marina in Lanzarote to make repairs to his self-steering gear; Kopar pulled in at the Cape Verde Islands to replace the self-steering system on his Tradewind 35, Puffin.
Just 430 miles separates leader Péché and 12th placed Loïc Lepage, with Britain’s Susie Goodall in 5th place and Gregor Mcguckin in 6th chasing Norwegian skipper Are Wiig.
Mark Slats was the second skipper to pass through the Lanzarote gate
Kevin Farebrother has already sold his boat