unflappable Jean-luc Van Den Heede shows how much experience he has as a solo sailor in these conditions. The race is proving to be an interesting insight into the ways of the sea.
Your report on the stability of the traditional long-keeled Golden Globe
Race was very interesting.
I had been wondering why we are seeing such a huge number of retirements, injuries and damage in this race. So far, nine out of 18 starters have gone. The original race didn’t suffer anything like this, did it?
Yet these boats are by far better prepared with better gear, better rigging and better sails/rigs, and understanding of the weather is orders of magnitude better. So why are they falling by the wayside like this?
Are they so much more competitive that they’re pushing too hard whereas the originals treated progress more as one does in a cruise? We don’t see this sort of attrition rate in other round the world races with modern superfast superlight boats viewed as far less stable.
‘He who makes the fewest mistakes wins’, the old saying goes. Jean-luc Van Den Heede very deliberately reduced the size, weight and complexity of his rig, reasoning from experience that he’d spent far more of his time on his previous circumnavigations with at least one reef in compared with using full sail. A smaller rig is far less liable to failure.
He ensured all his working sails could be managed from the cockpit, avoiding the many time-consuming and exhausting trips to the foredeck to change headsails. He tested and retested all his systems on the water during the previous winter until they were simply reliable. He employed the ‘KISS’ principle.
Freed from much unhelpful drudgery, he could concentrate his energy on route decision-making and sailing the boat closer to its potential than others.
On the rolling road that is the Cape to Tassie leg, he chose a latitude and tracked it down it. Others gybed here, tacked there, sailing further. Hence his handsome lead.