Jean-Luc Van Den Heede’s sailboat a Rustler 36-foot yacht named Matmut suffered a 150 degree knock down and its rig was damaged on UTC November 5, 2018. The French solo-sailor was 1,900 miles from Cape Horn. The shrouds are all loose because of a damaged bolt high on the mast that secures all four lower shrouds. The bolt slipped 5 centimeters down the mast after the knock-down. Van Den Heede plans to sail to Valparaiso, Chile and drop out of the race if his boat survives the violent storm its sailing through under bare poles.
The 73-year old French solo-sailor Van Den Heede is a five-time circumnavigator, but he is caught in chaotic sees and winds up to 65 knots and 12 meter seas in a cyclonic storm. He sails towards Cape Horn over 2,000 nautical miles ahead of his nearest competitor in the retro race for 32-to-36 foot sailing yachts that is the 2018 Golden Globe Race. Eighteen competitors started out from France in the solo-nonstop, unassisted race 127 days ago.
Four boats have been dismasted, three competitors have been rescued, and only eight boats remain in the race under the great capes. If Van Den Heede drops out in Valdivia, Chile, there will only be seven racers left. Van Den Heede has not yet asked for assistance. Second place Dutchman Mark Slats, who is closer to New Zealand than Chile, will lead the field of seven yachts if Van Den Heede drops out. The 1968 Golden Globe Race only had one finisher of nine boats leaving from England.
On his Golden Globe biography Van Den Heede said,
“From all my experiences, I am well aware of the difficulties this race poses. The slow speeds of these classic old boats with their long keels, the absence of weather information, the loss of all electronics and reliance on a sextant to plot positions, the lack of terrestrial contact, and the replacement of an electric pilot with wind vane self steering, will make this test even more random and difficult than the Vendée Globe.”