At 1815 UTC 27th January 1200 miles Northwest of Cape Horn, Simon Curwen contacted GGR control to advise of the total failure of his Hydrovane steering gear.
He had weathered the worst of a deep depression in 40 knots and 6-metre sea when the boat surged off a wave coming on the port side of his Biscay 36 Clara. He was not towing a drogue but was sailing comfortably on course at the time. This action appears to have sheared a shaft on the topside of the vane body connecting the wind sensor which appears irreplaceable. Simon did not take a spare on board to save weight and cannot replace the broken part with original components.
He is continuing under storm jib and lashed tiller while he decides on a course of action. He is OK, the boat has no other damage and he requires no assistance. The weather conditions are improving with the wind moderating into high 20s after the passage of a front at 0000 UTC and the sea is decreasing steadily.
The Pontivy-based sailor is still racing and weighing his options, but it is clear that he cannot race well without a wind vane. It is a major blow having held the lead from the start. The weather in the area looks like a typical mild southern ocean for the week ahead and the resourceful sailor can find ways to progress towards Cape Horn. An at sea repair looks unlikely and stopping for spares to continue in Chichester class may be the only option as he is a long way from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, the finish line of the 2022 GGR. This opens new opportunities for Abhilash Tomy and Kirsten Neuschäfer, currently 50 miles apart, 1200 miles west of Simon who now have a chance to chase the current leader Simon.