Van Den Heede has a 215 nm lead with less than 1,000 miles to go in the Golden Globe Sailboat Race

The elastic between Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats has stretched in the Frenchman’s favour over the weekend allowing him to open up a 215-mile lead over his Dutch rival. A week ago, the difference in terms of distance to finish was just 28 miles. Both skippers have used up what remained of their 160 litre supply of diesel fuel, with Slats expending the last drop pushing his way through the windless high pressure system sitting over the Azores. The two are now within the same weather system.

Slats is currently 330 miles south of Van Den Heede’s upwind position at the start of what could be a straight drag race to the finish. The unknown factor is the forecast – especially for these two skippers, for both have been cut off from weather feeds from the Ham Radio Net community for using unlicensed call signs throughout the Race. This came to light last week when Dutch and St Lucia radio authorities issued warning notices against the skippers. Licenced Ham radio operators who communicate with them not only face losing their licences, but the threat of a large fine and possible prison sentence!

Forecasting is particularly acute for Van Den Heede whose Rustler 36 Matmut has the prospect of running straight into another high pressure system predicted to form to the north east by Wednesday. It could affect Slats too, but not before his yacht Ophen Maverick has closed the distance.

The question then for Jean-Luc is whether to push hard for the finish and run the risk of breaking Matmut’s damaged mast, or settle for second place. The fact that 3rd placed Estonian Uku Randmaa trails 3,450 miles behind, could well persuade the Frenchman to push all out for a win, knowing that if the worst happens, he could still finish 2nd under a jury rig.

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The above is from the day 204, UTC January 21, 2019, press release from the Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018 #GGR2018; Jean Luc Van Den Heede is pictured in Hobart Australia with a 1,600 nm lead over Mark Slats; Photo credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR.

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Vendee and GGR Finishers Don’t Have to Circumnavigate! How to use your latitude and longitude to find the opposite side of the earth, your antipode.

You could finish the Vendee Globe or Golden Globe 2018 races and never circumnavigate the globe. This is the dirty little secret of both of these grueling round the world races.

The often forgotten requirement of a circumnavigation is that you need to travel to opposite sides of the earth to complete one. How can you determine what is your antipode which is the opposite side of the earth as defined by a line through your position and the center of the earth?

It is easy. Here is how you do it:

  1. The latitude of the antipode is the your latitude in the other hemisphere.  For example, if you are at 30 degrees North latitude, your antipode is at 30 degrees south latitude. Alternatively, if you are at 10 degrees South latitude then your antipode is at 10 degrees North latitude.
  2. The longitude of the antipode is takes a little calculation. Subtract your east or west longitude from 180 and your antipode will be that number in the opposite hemisphere.

When longitude is expressed in fractions the simple calculation in step 2 is the simplest. Otherwise, with minutes and or seconds of longitude you have to remember the 60 minutes = 1 degree of longitude and 60 seconds = 1 minute of longitude.

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Our video found that the round the world races of the Vendee Globe and the 2018 Golden Globe Race don’t require that finishers circumnavigate the globe. That is because you need to go as far north as you go south to hit an antipode. The farthest north point on the course is Les Sabes D’Lonne, France, 46°29′50″N 1°47′00″W, that has an antipode just east of the south island of New Zealand which the participants sail under. Thus, if a competitor in those races sails far under New Zealand or does not dip south to sail under New Zealand then there is an excellent chance they will never hit an antipode pair in their 30,000 nm trip. Thus, you could finish the Vendee Globe or Golden Globe 2018 races and never circumnavigate the globe. That is a pity. The original 1968 Golden Globe was much more likely to require finishers to circumnavigate the earth because it left from England which is roughly at the same longitude as Les Sabes D’Lonne, France but farther north.

The GGR 2018 retro sailing race requires competitors to stop in Hobart, Australia for its “film drop.” That is about 43S and 147E. The Hobart antipode is 43N and 33W. Then they must pass under the south island of New Zealand and north of Snares Island at about 48S and 166.5E. The opposite side of the earth from Snares Island is 48N and 13.5W approximately. Both Jean Luc Van Den Heede, first place in the GGR, and his closest competitor Mark Slats are east of 33W approaching Les Sabes D’Lonne, France (46.5N and 2W approximately) but well south of 43S, the southernmost point of that line of antipodes. Only if Slats moves well north of his great circle route to the finish will he ever hit an antipode. Jean Luc Van Den Heede crossed an antipodal pair just east of New Zealand and near the Les Sables D’Lonne start. Second place Mark Slats sailed too far south after passing New Zealand to hit an antipode at the start. On January 19, 2019, Slats was at about 33N and 27W. He had less than 1,400 nm to finish at 16:00 UTC on January 19, 2019.

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Below are the commonly requirements of a circumnavigation.

A circumnavigation of the Earth must:

1. start and finish at the same point

2. travel in one general direction

3. reach two antipodes

4. cross the equator

5. cross all longitudes

6. exceed the circumference of the earth at the equator of 21,600 nm

Note that the antipode rule (#3) guarantees that #4 and #6, you cross the equator and your journey exceeds the circumference of the earth at the equator, are satisfied. Thus, crossing the equator and travelling over 21,600 nm are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for a circumnavigation or reaching an antipode in science speak. The antipode rule requires that you travel to the opposite side of the earth and back, which means that you traveled a distance greater than the equator and touched the equator on your journey.

Capt. Linus Wilson, is the author of How to Sail Around the World Part-Time. The Slow Boat has only traveled across 83 degrees of longitude since 2016, and no antipodes have been reached in that time.

Was Mark Slats the 1st Golden Globe Racer to Circumnavigate under sail?

In December 2018, Mark Slats was the first Golden Globe Race 2018 sailor to cross his outbound track and cross 360 degrees of longitude. Does that mean he circumnavigated the globe in the GGR 2018? This video looks at the definition of a sailing circumnavigation and identifies several sailing voyages that are commonly referred to a circumnavigations that were not. Captain Linus Wilson discusses the famous trips by Laura Dekker, Jessica Watson, and Lin and Larry Pardey in Seraffyn that did or did not meet the definition of a circumnavigation. The hardest part of the definition to satisfy is the antipode rule that you must pass between points on the opposite sides of the earth.

A circumnavigation of the Earth must:
1. start and finish at the same point
2. travel in one general direction
3. reach two antipodes
4. cross the equator
5. cross all longitudes
6. exceed the circumference of the earth at the equator of 21,600nm

The sailing races the GGR and Vendee Globe may often produce finishers who do not circumnavigate because the course does not require that they cross antipode pairs. The easiest antipode to intersect lie just north of the southern tip of New Zealand or just north of Les Sables D’Olonne, France. The racers have to nearly finish the race before they have a chance of satisfying the antipode rule.

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We are not affiliated with GGR but we did review their gear at
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Video from VNR/PPL/GGR and Mark Slats was reproduced with the permission of the GGR 2018.

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On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Gone with the Wynns, MJ Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others.

Get Linus Wilson’s bestselling sailing books:
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Slow Boat to Cuba

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and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time

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have been #1 sailing ebook bestsellers on Amazon.
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Get the paperback or eBook
Sailing the Ogre: The Log of a Woman Wanderer (Annotated)
by Mabel M. Stock
at

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Associate Producers Larry Wilson, Kevin Yager, and Rick Moore (SSL).
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Copyright Linus Wilson, Oxriver Publishing, Vermilion Advisory Services, LLC, 2019

Slats is “thinking about retiring” in the Golden Globe Race in a virtual tie for first

Mark Slats wants to drop out less than 50 miles from the lead because he cannot receive detailed weather reports via HAM radio anymore.

The Golden Globe Race (GGR) published the following tweet by Australian-born, Dutch sailor Mark Slats on UTC 11:33 on January 15, 2019, “THINKING OF RETIRING FROM IF CANNOT WEATHER SAFETYFIRST”.

The GGR and race chairman Don McInyre declined to explain the tweet. The Golden Globe Race representatives are the only persons who can call Slats via satellite phone according to race rules. GGR did confirm speaking to him and said he was “fine” and not in distress. Instead, they directed Slow Boat Sailing to Mark Slats’ twitter feed and his team for comment. The Mark Slats facebook page operated by his shore side supporters wrote on UTC 17:30 January 15, “We would like to inform you that Mark’s latest message is NOT about his health or about water. The GGR informed us that Mark’s message ‘thinking of retiring from the race’ is about not receiving weather journals via HAM network anymore.”

slatsquit2

The Golden Globe Race recently clarified their rules on “weather routing” which is banned in the retro race. Skippers can obtain weather reports via SSB or HAM radio, but they may have been getting more detailed advice than race organizers envisioned. Moreover, penalties are being imposed by government authorities for HAM radio operators who communicate with unlicensed GGR entrants.

At UTC 17:45 the GGR Facebook page wrote:

Mark Slats can no longer use his HAM RADIO call sign which means he can now only transmit on MARINE HF SSB frequencies. Most of his previous communications have been by HAM radio. This will mean either joining a Private Maritime Net. (there are a few options) for weather or using official Govt. Maritime forecasts, or listen into any English Ham radio weather forecasts. This is what many other GGR entrants without a HAM radio License have done. GGR does not get involved with any radio traffic, or weather reports at all, which is up to the entrant to organize. GGR requires all entrants to have a Licensed MARINE HF SSB radio and station license and the entrant to have a Marine Radio Operators license only. GGR does monitor all strong weather with winds over 40 kts and if appropriate provides both forecasting and routing information to assist the entrant to sail safely.”

GGR confirms that they had nothing to do with the suspension of Slats supposedly bogus radio call sign. Others have researched the HAM call signs of 1st place Van Den Heede and 3rd place Uku Randmaa of Estonia. The call sign of the former is not registered where it is supposed to be, but Randmaa’s call sign is valid. The GGR says it will not penalize skippers without HAM call signs in the 2018 race, but it will in the 2022 edition of the race.

The radio and satellite communications has been an ongoing headache for race organizers who have banned computers and modern communications to simulate conditions of the 1968 Golden Globe Race except for race only communications and distress calls. Below are three problems that have come out of the GPS and Satellite phone bans:

1.Jean Socrates, who is vying to the oldest woman to sail solo-nonstop around the world, has accused Golden Globe Racers of receiving their positions via HAM radio. Socrates has said she has been in calls with or speaking to Mark Slats, Susie Goodall, and Uku Randmaa. The GGR declined to penalize any racers because they did not request their positions, which are available on the internet by way of the race tracker, but not visible to skippers. The GGR’s position is that it cannot penalize racers for overhearing their GPS positions over the radio. The racers cannot use GPS without incurring penalties. They are supposed to use celestial navigation offshore. Socrates disagrees with the GGR’s ban on GPS navigation according to Good Old Boat magazine.

2. Sat phone calls by two-time Jules Verne trophy winner for the fastest non-stop circumnavigation in history Phillip Peche of France disqualified him from the race. Five-time circumnavigator and race leader Jean Luc Van Den Heede served an 18-hour time penalty for calling his wife after he was pitchpoled and planning to abandon the race. He later decided to press on with the time penalty for the banned phone call. Hungarian-born American sailor Istavan Kopar will serve a time penalty for similar infractions of the satellite phone policy. Satellite communications is cheaper to set up and is usually a more reliable way to obtain weather information offshore than SSB radio. The first racer to drop out, Turkish-born, English sailor Ertan Beskardes, said his inability to call his wife on the satellite phone was his reason for retiring early. Beskardes plans to race again in 2022.

3. The GGR has been providing weather warnings to skippers when they face storm conditions, but that puts the race in the awkward position of acting as a weather router. It opens the race up to criticism rightly or wrongly if their weather advice does not prevent disaster in the case of Susie Goodall’s dismasting in the Pacific Ocean for example.

In all three cases, the 2018 racers have far more information and communications ability than the original GGR 1968 skippers. Thus, the re-enactment seems to have failed to recreate the same conditions that the 1968 skippers faced in terms of technology.

Initially, it looked like that Slats would retire in the Canaries to the east where he was headed earlier in the day. Since the “retiring” message, he has turned north towards the Azores to follow first place racer Van Den Heede in the hunt for a first-place finish.

Eighteen 32-to-36-foot boats entered the solo-nonstop sailing race. Only five competitors remain. The race leaders are about two weeks away from the finish of the 30,000 nautical mile race.

The boats did sail through the Canaries on the way down. If Slats stopped there, he would be short of a circumnavigation. For a circumnavigation, a boat must cross antipodes which are two points on opposite sides of the globe connected by a straight line through the center of the Earth. The first antipodal point is off the coast of France close to the finish. Those points near France are on the opposite side of the earth of the waters south of New Zealand.

 

Shark Diving in Fakarava, Slow Boat Sailing S2E18

Linus, Anna, and Daly try out the top four things to do in when sailing in Fakarava in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia. Linus is afraid of sharks, but Anna is not. They tour the pearl farms, airport, Phare de Topaka, north pass, south pass, and explain the fuel, water, and provisioning situation in the second largest atoll in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia, Renting a bike is a great way to get around Fakarava. They explore pink sand beaches and enjoy the lagoon and ocean waves. Linus gives tips on the best way to enter the pass, taking advantage of the tides and daylight. The dangerous archipelago, the Tuamotus poses particular challenges that prevent sailboat and sailors from easily moving from one atoll to the other. The Slow Boat experiences a scary frontal passage in the atoll.

Here is the link to get the SAILING TO TREASURE ISLAND audibook free with an new audible membership:

https://www.audible.com/pd/B07LC35H18/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-136779&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_136779_rh_us

Support the videos at

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On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Gone with the Wynns, MJ Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others.

Get Linus Wilson’s bestselling sailing books:

Slow Boat to the Bahamas

Slow Boat to Cuba

https://gumroad.com/l/cubabook

and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time

https://gumroad.com/l/sailing

have been #1 sailing ebook bestsellers on Amazon.

Linus Wilson reads a selection of Sailing to Treasure Island by Captain John C. Voss. You can get the full audiobook at

http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing

SAILING TO TREASURE ISLAND: The Cruise of the XORA (Annotated) by Captain J.C. Voss

The paperback at

or

http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/paperback/product-23887731.html

or the eBook at

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Associate Producers Anders Colbenson, Larry Wilson, Ted Royer, and Rick Moore (SSL).

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Copyright Linus Wilson, Oxriver Publishing, Vermilion Advisory Services, LLC, 2018

Ep. 56: Sailing the OGRE, the log of a woman wanderer (annotated) by Mable Stock read by Linus Wilson on the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-vmgtn-a3590a

Stock-Album-2700by2700

Mabel Stock, her brother Ralph, and their friend buy a 45-foot, gaff-rigged sailboat after World War I and from 1919 to 1920 sail it half-way across the world. They are one of the first cruising yachts to transit the Panama Canal in the Ogre sailboat. They go on to sail the South Pacific. This is one of the earliest accounts of a sailing yacht cruise authored by a woman. Mabel Stock joins the ranks of the Captain J. C. Voss and Joshua Slocum as an earlier pioneer of long-distance cruising in small sailing yachts. Mabel Stock and other crew sail from England to Spain, the Canary Islands, Barbados, Panama, the Galapagos, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, Tahiti, Palmerston Atoll, and Nukualofa, Tonga.

Mabel M. Stock (b. 1874 d. 1941) was a world traveler, piano player, sailor, and single woman ahead of her time. She is the older sister and travel partner of the famous writer for books and films, Ralph Stock (b. 1881 d. 1962). This is her only book and was originally published in 1923. This is based on the 2019 Oxriver Publishing edition (c) 2019, Linus Wilson.

After its zero price day, January 3, 2019, (UTC-8), the price will go up each subsequent day to $.99, $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99, its low introductory eBook price by January 8, 2019.

The podcast gives you the audio version of chapters 1 & 2 for free. The full audio version is available to a limited number of Captain/Associate Producer patrons who, for a limited time while supplies last, pledge $5 or more. (Higher patron levels get all the benefits of lower patron levels.)

For a limited time while supplies last, those $5 patrons get 4 audiobooks, 1. Sailing to Treasure Island, 2. How to Sail Around the World Part-Time, 3. Slow Boat to Cuba, and 4. Sailing the Ogre.

http://www.patreon.com/slowboatsailing

The ebook and paperback of SAILING THE OGRE is on Amazon

Support the videos and podcast at
http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing
On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Gone with the Wynns, MJ Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others.

Get Linus Wilson’s bestselling sailing books:
Slow Boat to the Bahamas

Slow Boat to Cuba

https://gumroad.com/l/cubabook
and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time

https://gumroad.com/l/sailing
have been #1 sailing ebook bestsellers on Amazon.
You can get the full audiobook of Sailing to Treasure Island by Captain John C. Voss. at

https://www.audible.com/pd/B07LC35H18/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-136779&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_136779_rh_us

or

http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing

SAILING TO TREASURE ISLAND: The Cruise of the XORA (Annotated) by Captain J.C. Voss
The paperback at

or
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/paperback/product-23887731.html

or the eBook at
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/ebook/product-23887490.html

Associate Producers Larry Wilson, Kevin Yager, and Rick Moore (SSL).
Sign up for our free newsletter for access to free books and other promotions at http://www.slowboatsailing.com
Copyright Linus Wilson, Oxriver Publishing, Vermilion Advisory Services, LLC, 2019

Sailing Through the Panama Canal in 1919 by Mabel Stock on SV OGRE

Mabel Stock, her brother Ralph, and their friend buy a 45-foot, gaff-rigged sailboat after World War I and from 1919 to 1920 sail it half-way across the world. They are one of the first cruising yachts to transit the Panama Canal in the Ogre sailboat. They go on to sail the South Pacific. This is one of the earliest accounts of a sailing yacht cruise authored by a woman. Mabel Stock joins the ranks of the Captain J. C. Voss and Joshua Slocum as an earlier pioneer of long-distance cruising in small sailing yachts. Mabel Stock and other crew sail from England to Spain, the Canary Islands, Barbados, Panama, the Galapagos, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, Tahiti, Palmerston Atoll, and Nukualofa, Tonga.
Mabel M. Stock (b. 1874 d. 1941) was a world traveler, piano player, sailor, and single woman ahead of her time. She is the older sister and travel partner of the famous writer for books and films, Ralph Stock (b. 1881 d. 1962). This is her only book and was originally published in 1923. This is based on the 2019 Oxriver Publishing edition (c) 2019, Linus Wilson.

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The ebook and paperback of SAILING THE OGRE is on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793007373

Support the videos at
http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing
On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Gone with the Wynns, MJ Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others.

Get Linus Wilson’s bestselling sailing books:
Slow Boat to the Bahamas

Slow Boat to Cuba

https://gumroad.com/l/cubabook
and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time

https://gumroad.com/l/sailing
have been #1 sailing ebook bestsellers on Amazon.
You can get the full audiobook of Sailing to Treasure Island by Captain John C. Voss. at

http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing

SAILING TO TREASURE ISLAND: The Cruise of the XORA (Annotated) by Captain J.C. Voss
The paperback at

or
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/paperback/product-23887731.html

or the eBook at
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/ebook/product-23887490.html

Associate Producers Larry Wilson, Kevin Yager, and Rick Moore (SSL).
Sign up for our free newsletter for access to free books and other promotions at http://www.slowboatsailing.com
Copyright Linus Wilson, Oxriver Publishing, Vermilion Advisory Services, LLC, 2019

A CYCLONE heads for our SAILBOAT in Tonga Cat 1 on New Year’s Day 2019

We left our sailboat in the Boatyard in Vavau, Tonga and now a New Year’s Day Category 1 Cyclone is aiming right for it. Linus discusses the potential impacts of the storm and the possible travel disruptions associated with it. Major hurricanes can create a lot of flooding and wind damage. In the South Pacific a category 1 cyclone is not equivalent to a hurricane. Instead, it is a force 8 to 9 gale or strong gale on the Beaufort Scale with winds of 34-47 knots. A category 1 hurricane is force 12 with minimum winds of 64 knots. Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga are very protected waters with high sided hills or fiords.

Support the videos at
http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing
On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Gone with the Wynns, MJ Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others.

Get Linus Wilson’s bestselling sailing books:
Slow Boat to the Bahamas

Slow Boat to Cuba

https://gumroad.com/l/cubabook
and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time

https://gumroad.com/l/sailing
have been #1 sailing ebook bestsellers on Amazon.
You can get the full audiobook of Sailing to Treasure Island by Captain John C. Voss. at

http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing

SAILING TO TREASURE ISLAND: The Cruise of the XORA (Annotated) by Captain J.C. Voss
The paperback at

or
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/paperback/product-23887731.html

or the eBook at
http://www.lulu.com/shop/captain-jc-voss/sailing-to-treasure-island-the-cruise-of-the-xora/ebook/product-23887490.html

Associate Producers Anders Colbenson, Larry Wilson, Kevin Yager, and Rick Moore (SSL).
Sign up for our free newsletter for access to free books and other promotions at http://www.slowboatsailing.com
Copyright Linus Wilson, Oxriver Publishing, Vermilion Advisory Services, LLC, 2019

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Van Den Heede Crosses Equator on Christmas; 1st Golden Globe Racer to Re-Enter the Northern Hemisphere

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede had been promising Golden Globe Race organizers that he would cross the equator on Christmas Day UTC, and, like Santa Claus, he delivered. The French solo-sailor leads the 30,000 nautical mile, retro-race for 32-to-36-foot sailboats that started on July 1, 2018. His nearest competitor, the Australian-born, Dutch sailor Mark Slats has been losing ground in recent days and trails by nearly 1,000 nm.

Both sailors skipper Rustler 36 sailboats, but Van Den Heede suffered a pitchpole that weakened his mast prior to Cape Horn. Van Den Heede says the mast is most vulnerable on a port tack with wind forward of the beam coming from the left side of the boat. In recent days, the Frenchman has been on a starboard tack. Second-place Slats has been fighting headwinds while Van Den Heede has had more favorable winds. Van Den Heede had 3,200 nautical miles to at 0:00 UTC on December 26, 2018.

SantaJ-L

2018 Golden Globe Race – Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FR) arrival in Hobart, Tasmania at the Boatshed.com Hobart film drop on October 6, 2018. The 73-year old French Veteran and his Rustler 36 yacht MATMUT has a 1,600 mile lead over 2nd place Dutchman Mark Slats. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

If Van Den Heede does not suffer a major mishap, he could finish the race in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, his hometown, in three-to-four weeks after 200 days at sea. At 73 years old, the five-time circumnavigator, Van Den Heede, is the oldest competitor of the 18-person race, which has shrunk to five boats after five dismastings and eight drop-outs for other reasons.

The Golden Globe Race has put his equator crossing at 05:30 UTC December 26, 2018, but their Apple iOS YB tracker app put him north of the equator at 0:00 UTC on December 26, 2018, implying that he crossed on Christmas Day, December 25, 2018. Regardless when he crossed into the Northern Hemisphere, Van Den Heede is the closest racer to home. He remarked in a tweet that his summer (in the Southern Hemisphere) was being cut short and replaced by winter. The French sailor will eagerly take that trade.

Mark Slats Turns Around Hours from Completing the 1st Circumnavigation of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

Australian-born, Dutch solo-sailor, Mark Slats was hours away on Christmas Eve 2018 from being the first Golden Globe Race 2018 participant to complete a sailing circumnavigation. Instead, he made a 90 degree turn to avoid being the first racer in the 2018 contest to do so. If he does not tack back in the next day or so, he may never complete the circumnavigation until he reaches the northern hemisphere.

Of all the competitors still in the race for 32-to-36-foot heavy displacement sailboats, Slats sailed the most western course down the South Atlantic early on in the race. He has been on a long northeast tack well offshore of Brazil that brought him within 100 nautical miles of his outbound track, but then early on December 24, 2018, UTC he turned to the northwest sailing away from his outbound track. He is close to his farthest west portion of his track. Slats is the only competitor thus far to have sailed all 360 degrees of longitude. Unfortunately, one of the requirements of circumnavigation, according to the commonly accepted definition adopted by the Guiness Book of World Records and others, is that you start and end at the same place, which Slats and no other competitor has yet done in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

SoClose

In the 1968 Golden Globe Race, three competitors completed circumnavigations. Bernard Moitessier, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, and Nigel Tetley. Nevertheless, Moitessier and Tetley never finished the race. Moitessier crossed his outbound track for the circumnavigation near Cape Town on March 18, 1969. Moitessier decided to sail to Tahiti instead of finishing the Golden Globe Race in England. South African-born, English sailor Nigel Tetley crossed his outbound track in the North Atlantic before his trimaran sunk about 1,200 nautical miles from the start in England. Tetley was rescued in his life raft. Sir Robin Knox Johnston of England would not complete the race until April 1968 after 312 days at sea.

It is unclear if Slats is aware of how close he was to a circumnavigation after 176 days at sea. The participants navigate by sextant and are not allowed to access the race tracker. Thus, his celestial fixes may have been too inaccurate or infrequent to tell him that he could have completed a circumnavigation on Christmas Eve 2018. The 41-year old Slats completed his first circumnavigation under sail in 2005. Slats is in second place and trailing race leader Jean Luc Van Den Heede of France by about 700 nautical miles If you have a ham radio, tell Mark Slats to tack to the northeast for a day.