Global Solo Challenge: Round the world and the Canaries

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Global Solo Challenge


Round the world and the Canaries: the lucky islands?

Even when a sailor’s eye gets used to the vast horizon, the colours and tones of the sea and sky change every day… the open seas are never the same from one day to the next… suddenly, after days and days, a new outline on the immense Ocean painting will emerge on the horizon, blurred at first, then clearer little by little… you see land!!!

For sailors’ morale this is always great, even if, in the case of GSC participants, they will sail past without stopping: spirits will be boosted in the knowledge they are indeed on the right course…

This is what skippers will feel when approaching the Canary Islands after their navigation from A Coruña. The simple vision of these islands in the middle of the Ocean will comfort them and reaffirm their decision to move forward, after days reflecting and absorbing the immensity of the adventure they are about to undertake, with the world ahead of them….

Leaving aside the poetic and romantic side of things, skippers will have to be alert near land and keep thinking about the practicalities, different options are open to them when crossing the archipelago with the meteorological peculiarities and winds influenced by the islands.

The Canary Islands consist of seven major islands, three in the eastern region, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, and four in the western region, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and Hierro, and some smaller islands and islets.

Their coordinates range from 29º25’N to 27º40’N and from 13º25’W to 18º10’W.

The predominant winds are the trade winds from the NE associated with the anticyclone of the Azores. The height and the orography of the islands causes the airflow to channel between them and form acceleration cones where the wind can pass from force 2/3 Beaufort to 6/7 over the space of half a mile. However, ripples over the surface of the see make it easy to spot the change in conditions.

What the sailors of the GSC should take into account is that occasionally, and especially in the winter months, a low Atlantic pressures can displace the anticyclone of the Azores influence the winds over the archipelago, generating strong or very strong storms from the S to SW and NW.

When this type of storms the drop in pressure readings on the barometer is very pronounced, going from the normal 1025mb typical over this area to the value of the storm that is coming, this can be of great help in predicting this type of meteorological phenomena.

Maritime traffic is regulated in two controlled navigation areas, one between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, and the other between Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Global Solo Challenge: a unique format

The format is unlike any other round the world solo sailing event and will make it fair and exciting for the Skippers as well as easy and engaging for the public and sponsors to follow:

  • A wide range of boats can enter – 32 to 55 foot.
  • Boats will be grouped by performance characteristics and set off in successive departures over 11 weeks.
  • Once at sea, there are no classes. All boats will be sailing the same event. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest aboard and a fascinating event for the public and sponsors.
  • The first boat to cross the finish line wins. The performance differential between the boats is taken into account in staggering the departures, eliminating the need to calculate corrected times.
All entries will have a chance of winning – dramatic from beginning to end

It will feel quite daunting and emotional to be among the first skippers to set off. Equally it will be nerve wracking for those with a long wait before theirdeparture.

The last skippers to set off will have to keep cool waiting for their turn to start the chase.

The faster boats will need to sail fast and well to make up for the head start given to the slower groups.

It will be the ultimate enactment of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, with steady cruisers being chased by performance thirsty skippers on faster boats.

Who will cross the line first?