Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede broke a bolt that secured all his shrouds in a 150 degree knock down in a cyclonic storm. Instead of repairing it in the nearest port in Chile, the 73-year-old, 5-time circumnavigator plans to sail his 36-foot boat with a damaged rig around Cape Horn in a bid to complete the race with about 9,000 nautical miles to go until he reaches the race finish and his home port in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. In a satellite messages today, he said he climbed the mast twice today to tighten the loose shrouds on his Rustler 36 in two meter swells and no wind.
Caption: 2018 Golden Globe Race: Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen and his Gaia 36 yacht ASTERIA arrival at the Boatshed.com Hobart Film gate in 6th place in the Golden Globe Race. 1st place skipper Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has been climbing his mast at sea.
Here is the press release from yesterday UTC November 8, 2018:
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the embattled race leader struggling with a damaged mast sustained during a storm 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn, has decided to continue in the race back to Les Sables d’Olonne.
In a dramatic satellite phone call to Race Chairman Don McIntyre early today, the 73-year old solo circumnavigator who continues to enjoy a 1,500 mile lead over second placed Dutchman Mark Slats, said that he had decided to make the best repair he can at sea and continue in the race.
The Frenchman told McIntyre “The worst that can happen is that I lose my rig, and I have my jury rig at the ready. McIntyre added “At the moment, his only other option is to divert 2,000 miles off course to a Chilean port and be demoted to the Chichester Class for making one stop to affect repairs. He believes that if he can get round Cape Horn and start heading north up into the Atlantic there are many more ports of refuge that would be closer to hand, should he have further issues with the rig on his Rustler 36 Matmut.”
Don added. “This makes a real race to the finish. Mark Slats (Ohpen Maverick) has around 90 days to catch up and now needs to average 1 knot more than Jean-Luc over the remaining distance back to Les Sables d’Olonne. This means that Mark has a real incentive to beat Matmut on his own terms, while Jean-Luc must push as hard as he dare within the limits of his damaged mast”.
This is a far better proposition for the fiercely competitive Dutchman than by winning by default and have the result tarred, as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston did quite unjustly 50 years before with the words ‘but he only won because….(In RK-J’s case, Frenchman Bernard Moitessier who had been 19 days behind the Englishman at Cape Horn, decided to carry on for a second turn around the world ‘to save my soul’.)
Originally, Van Den Heede planned to drop out of the race that has lost most of its participants thus far. He broke race rules for using his satellite phone to call his manager and wife. Participants are not allowed to use their satellite phones to communicate with anyone besides race headquarters for reasons that don’t make sense to this author. Like Hungarian-born, American 5th place racer Istavan Kopar, Van Den Heede will get a time penalty for the infraction, according to race headquarters today, UTC November 9, 2018. If he had received “material assistance” over the satellite phone he could have been eliminated from the race.