A dismasting and a Southern Ocean encounter


When the Golden Globe Race stared at Les Sables d’Olonne in France on July 1, the competition consisted of 17 sailors. After more than 70 days of racing down into the South Atlantic, past Cape Town and into the great Southern Ocean, the hard sailing, weather and waves have taken their toll. Seven sailors have retired from the race; the remaining 10 sail on, hoping their boats and their willpower hold up for the long race still to come.

Of the seven racers that have retired, perhaps the most exciting story belongs to Norwegian racer Are Wiig on his OE 32 Olleanna. Wiig’s boat was rolled through 360 degrees in the Southern Ocean on Aug. 27. With Olleanna dismasted, Wiig had to build a jury rig and sail unassisted 400 miles to Cape Town, where he arrived Sunday, Sept. 2.

Wiig stated in a press release that he was very glad that he had built and tested his jury rig system — a race requirement for all competitors — before departure. The temporary rig made use of two spinnaker poles with their ends along opposite rails amidships and lashed together at their apex. Wiig also praised the Yellow Brick satellite tracking system, which gave Race HQ his position each hour and was used to send and transmit text messages between the boat and race officials. “It was good to know that people watch out for us,” he said.

Another interesting tidbit from the race is the report that on Sunday, Sept. 9, amid the vast emptiness of the Southern Ocean, Finnish racer Tapio Lehtinen on his Gaia 36, Asteria, woke up to the unexpected and pleasant surprise of seeing American racer Istvan Kopar’s Tradewind 35 Puffin within a mile of him. “WOW” was Lehtinen’s response to Race HQ. The two were 360 miles south of the Cape of Good Hope, and by 0800 on Sept. 10 the two were still neck-and-neck despite Kopar reporting continued problems with his wind vane self-steering.

By Ocean Navigator