True test

Golden Globe Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede suffers knock-down and mast damage.

06 November 2018


At 1500hrs UTC on 5 November, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede advised Golden Globe Race organisers that his Rustler 36 Matmut had been knocked down badly to about 150° which had damaged the connecting bolt attachment to the mast that holds all four lower shrouds.

The mast was not in danger of falling, but it was not securely tensioned. The bolt has slipped 5cm down in the mast section and slackened the rigging.

Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is currently facing one of his biggest tests so far. In a 2-minute conversation with Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne today he spoke about 65 knots winds and 11 metre seas. He is now within 1,900 miles of Cape Horn, which the Frenchman expects to round on 21 November.

The 73-year old race Frenchman from Les Sables d’Olonne is now running downwind with no sails until conditions improve. He will then effect a repair that will allow him to hoist sail again and make for Valparaiso, Chile where he will make a permanent repair.


Jean Luc was not injured during the knock-down, and has not requested assistance yet, confident that he can make Valparaiso safely. This will mean that he will move to the Chichester Class once he makes that port to effect repairs.

This is not a code orange situation for Jean-Luc, who is well in control of the situation.

Meanwhile, last placed runners Australian Mark Sinclair and Russian Igor Zaretskiy, now a whole ocean apart from Jean-Luc’s Rustler 36 Matmut. Zaretskiy, who has had his problems fixing a broken forestay and suffering hand sores, has chalked up an average VMG of just 2.1 knots over the past two months.

Sinclair is clearly getting much more enjoyment from his solitude, but still, his average VMG over the same period is only 2.3 knots. Last week he took time out to track down and photograph Gregor McGuckin’s abandoned yacht Hanley Energy Endurance. “Still afloat and emitting an AIS signal” he reported to Race HQ.

Sinclair expects to reach the Hobart film gate on Saturday 8 December.

By then both Van Den Heede and second placed Australian-born Dutchman Mark Slats are likely to have rounded Cape Horn and heading north up the Atlantic.

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