Global Solo Challenge
In about a week the Global Solo Challenge will witness one of the most awaited moments of the event with two key departures for the fleet of sailors eager to achieve their dream of completing a solo world circumnavigation. The creator and organiser of the GSC, Marco Nannini, commented, “With the departures on the 21st and 28th of October, the GSC fleet in navigation will comprise fifteen vessels. An extremely interesting phase will begin, and we will finally witness the grand event we’ve been anticipating at sea.”
Meanwhile, the four sailors already crossing the ocean accumulate more miles, reach more milestones, and gather more memories in their adventure every day.
Dafydd Hughes, onboard Bendigedig, is en route to round the first major cape, Cape of Good Hope, and has so far sailed exceptionally well, making the most of the weather conditions he’s encountered, despite his vessel’s limited speed. It appears, reminiscent of La Fontaine’s story, that the “turtle” might be more formidable than the pursuing “hares.” Dafydd chose a more easterly course and skillfully decided to take a shortcut on the route, differing from the traditional path considered by the organization as a benchmark. The Welsh skipper certainly took into account his boat’s performance. Bendigedig, given her smaller size, doesn’t particularly feel the effects of light wind and progresses slowly but steadily, even in key sections like the Doldrums and the St. Helena High. Earlier in the week, the tracker, set with reference waypoints based on the classic route to calculate the remaining distance to the finish, did not immediately highlight the advantage gained by Dafydd. By Wednesday, the data was updated using an imaginary waypoint placed beyond the Cape of Good Hope, clearly showcasing Dafydd’s skill, saving over 500 miles compared to the tracker’s route. Now, his estimated arrival date has improved by several days. However, this is just a projection based on the current data, which will need to be verified throughout the remaining voyage.
Édouard De Keyser and his Solaire 34′, SolarWind, which left A Coruna about a month ago, resumed sailing after a five-day anchor stop in the Cape Verde archipelago. “It’s been 48 hours since we set off again,” wrote the Belgian sailor on Monday. “I’m celebrating my absolute record of continuous sailing without stopping or setting foot on land, both solo and with a crew. Thinking about it, a wave of memories overwhelms me: I think of my family, our Pacific crossing in 2008, and the many sea adventures in Brittany.”
Édouard now faces the Intertropical Convergence Zone: “Since departing Mindelo, the wind has been inconsistent in intensity, but it’s more or less in the right direction. I chose a more westerly route than Dafydd to try and benefit from the current conditions.” It seems that the philosophy driving him provides additional motivation for his journey: “I feel like an ambassador of the future. I want to prove that, with Simplicity, Efficiency, and Resilience, we can combat global warming while preserving our human values, solidarity, and a happiness capital that cannot be measured in money.”
Louis Robein, onboard the X-37 Le souffle de la mer III, has regained his rhythm after issues with his main autopilot. In recent days after leaving the Canary Islands, he maintained a good average, covering about 150 miles daily. He finally managed to send us some excerpts from his logbook to share how he experienced the early days of his GSC: “Between the nights of October 2nd and 3rd, the autopilot started having issues: it didn’t hold the course, and with a wind of twenty knots, several involuntary jibes occurred. During one of these, damage occurred to the steering wheel column. For safety, I lowered the mainsail. I was tired and discouraged and went to rest and ponder a solution to get everything back on track.” In the following days, Louis repaired the column and checked the autopilot’s wiring, which is now working again. By the end of October 5th, having completed the repairs, Louis managed to enjoy a decent dinner: “I’ve just had my first hot meal, finally finding my rhythm, which is impossible to maintain when there are emergencies to solve. I prepared pork fillet with peas and, for dessert, yogurt and banana. I even indulged in a glass of red wine. In the afternoon, I listened to the VHF, which has a long range, and managed to catch communications from the Canaries and Morocco. I’ve just made contact with Rabat, 425 miles from my position!”
After passing through the Canaries with many changes in wind, Louis continues his navigation with fewer issues and takes the opportunity to finish some small tasks he had planned, catching up with his schedule.
We reached Philippe Delamare on the phone aboard his Actual 46 Mowgli, who is navigating through the Doldrums. The sailor, in good spirits and happy to communicate, does not hide his slight disappointment with the calm days he’s experiencing, which will probably last for another three or four days. “I keep thinking positively to maintain the rhythm, but it’s hard. For a few days, I have been engaged in continuous maneuvers and many sail changes: I gybe, sometimes lower the mainsail when it flaps in no wind, or I hoist the spinnaker. I usually don’t use alarms, but now I have one set every forty-five minutes to monitor the situation… I’ve slowed down by three or four days on my schedule and need to catch up with the 5,000-mile lead the first competitor has,” says Philippe, who does not hide his healthy competitiveness. “I’m in a good mood, and the boat is doing well without problems, which is already a great satisfaction. But of course, when there’s no wind, the problem is frustration, impatience, and a bit of edginess. Over the past two days, it’s even been hard to sleep under these conditions. Fortunately, so far, I’ve managed to average six hours of rest a day, and on some days even seven, seven and a half.”
Philippe’s educational project with the students of “Anne Sylvestre” in Rouen and his collaboration with teacher Céline Alexandre is going full steam ahead. “I am motivated and happy to share my experience with the kids. This activity offers me a break from the daily routine, from navigation rhythm, from maneuvers, from monitoring speeds. I maintain constant contact with the teacher, and together, we plan the Friday video conferences in advance. During the week, I send photos and short videos to prepare for these meetings. The kids discover my reality, show great interest, and the teacher has many new and different topics to discuss, mainly geography. This helps her open their minds to broader horizons. Madame Alexandre, surprised and pleased, notes with pleasure the interest sparked by this initiative among the students; she was not sure they would be so passionate about a world so distant and different from their usual interests.”
Philippe had stated from the beginning that he is not a fan of cooking, but he has some treats in store for the long journey ahead: “In the galley, there’s no more fresh food from land, but every two or three days, I prepare pasta, one of my favorite dishes, and I allow myself a glass of wine in the evening. For now, I choose only fruit desserts like fruit purees and fruit salads, but I haven’t yet touched the puddings and creams that I took… I’ll save them for later!”
For now, it’s very easy for Philippe to communicate with his Starlink system, through which he also listens to the radio. “So far, I have been listening to music; I can’t focus much on reading. I also brought an eReader where I downloaded almost 2,000 books. I love biographies of great personalities and rock bands, and as the first book to read, I chose a 1,500-page biography on the Rolling Stones.”
At Marina Coruña, competitors departing in the next two weeks are finalizing preparations and refining details. The first three skippers to leave on October 21 are: Pavlin Nadvorni on the Farr45 Espresso Martini, Ari Känsäkoski on the Class40 ZeroChallenge, and William McBrien on the Class40 Phoenix. The Bulgarian skipper repaired the rudder at the boatyard of Marina Coruña after an orca attack off Portugal, and his boat is almost ready. The Finnish skipper arrived in A Coruña on October 7, after a stop in Bilbao where his boat had come from Finland by cargo. The Canadian skipper launched his Class40 at the V1D2 shipyard in Caen, France, on October 9 and awaits favorable weather conditions to reach A Coruña.
On the quayside, the teams of David Linger on Koloa Maoli, Cole Brauer on First Light, Riccardo Tosetto on Obportus 3, all belonging to the group of Class40s, as well as the team of the Open 50 Shipyard Brewing of Ronnie Simpson, are working tirelessly on the final preparations for the October 28 departure. Alessandro Tosetti, skipper of the 65-foot ULDB “Aspra,” is finalizing his boat’s preparations to be ready too for the October 28 departure.
The presence of some skippers leaving at the end of October is still awaited in the Galician city. Spanish skipper Juan Merediz passed the Strait of Gibraltar and was sailing in the Gulf of Cadiz towards A Coruna yesterday. Juan recently received support from the city of Valencia and “Visit Valencia” and decided to rename his Class40 “Sorolla” in honor of the Valencian Impressionist painter, Joaquín Sorolla.
Kevin Le Poidevin, based in the UK due to visa issues, plans to leave the Port Pendennis marina in Falmouth aboard his Open 40 Roaring Forty around October 12.
Another French skipper from the GSC is developing interesting educational and solidarity programs. On October 5, François Gouin met with the students of Notre Dame Saint Paul. Gouin, who will sail around the world aboard the Class40 Kawan III and is also an oncological surgeon and ambassador of Unicancer, spoke to the students about the importance of sport in cancer prevention and recovery from treatment, a theme he intends to promote during the event. His visit was an inspiration to the students who will follow his journey in the GSC. François plans to leave from France, where his boat is based, to A Coruna in the coming days
To stay updated on the competitors’ positions, the tracker is available on the GSC website: https://globalsolochallenge.com/tracking/
The Global Solo Challenge kicked off on August 26. Given its unique format, the 20 skippers will set off in staggered departures over the next four months, depending on the performance of their boats.
For more details about the sea adventures of the skippers, please visit the updated blogs on the event’s website: https://globalsolochallenge.com/blogs/