GOLDEN GLOBE RACE: Jean-Luc Van Den Heede First to Finish in 212 Days; Mark Slats is Penalized

GGR First Across

This happened this morning at Les Sables D’Olonne. A really great achievement, to win a non-stop RTW race at age 73. HATS OFF to Jean-Luc!!!

If you’ve been following you also know that Mark Slats, on The Ohpen Maverick, isn’t far behind. To avoid a huge winter gale blasting into the Bay of Biscay, Slats diverted toward La Coruna, Spain, after consulting with Dick Koopmans, his race manager, via sat-phone. This violation of the race rules has drawn a 36-hour time penalty from race organizer Don McIntyre. This is twice as long as the 18-hour penalty Jean-Luc received after he broke the sat-phone rule earlier in the race. Slats, who originally thought he would put into La Coruna, has now turned back toward Les Sables, as the storm has proved weaker than forecast. He should arrive and finish his race on Friday.

RKJ greets JLVDH

Jean-Luc is greeted by Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the first Golden Globe Race, before stepping ashore

McIntyre has yet to explain the penalty discrepancy, but it may have something to do with the fact that he and Dick Koopmans got into something of a pissing match (documented by Don here) before Slats and Koopmans had their phone conversation. Clearly, there’s no love lost here.

Another controversy has raised its head, as it turns out both Jean-Luc and Mark have been operating on ham radio frequencies throughout the race without proper ham licenses, yet another rules violation. This had drawn no penalties from McIntyre, though ham authorities did shut down both sailors as they approached the finish, closing off a rich source of weather information. There’s also been some debate as to whether competitors have been receiving weather-routing as opposed to weather-forecasting information via radio.

To dive into the details of all this unfortunately just diminishes the achievements of both Jean-Luc and Mark, so I will spare you that. It really is silly that we might have arguments, for example, about whether so-and-so violated the race rules by listening to music on an iPod.

McIntyre was recently interviewed about these roiling controversies (see viddy below) and he correctly identifies the problem: people don’t understand the rules.

As I said in my earlier post, this event has been a great success in spite of, not because of, its picayune rules. Far better to have rules that people can understand.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot more people still out there sailing alone non-stop around the world via the Southern Ocean, most of whom are not in the Golden Globe Race. The Longue Route tracker is still the best place to follow all the action.

Amongst Longue Route participants there have been two interesting developments:

1) The first Longue Route boat abandonment. Sebastian Debierre had to bail out of his trimaran Sucre du Pasteque (Watermelon Sugar) after one ama broke off during his approach to Cape Horn.

Damaged Watermelon

The damaged trimaran. Sebastian evacuated on to the freighter Mineral Beijing

2) Suzanne Huber-Curphey did not turn north toward home after rounding the Horn, but has instead has kept on going, just like Bernard Moitessier. As she noted in a message to shore on December 30: “Seriously, isn’t that the most obvious thing to do?”

Suzanne position

Suzanne’s position as of this morning

Indeed, it is.

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