Preparing for a solo circumnavigation by the three great capes is an enormous challenge. So much so that getting to the start line is often just as hard as the navigation that will follow. Preparation is key to success, the areas to cover are so many and so wide ranging that it can feel overwhelming. Not only skippers have to learn about solo sailing, sail changes, manoeuvres, but have to become experts of many aspects of their boats which they have to care for and keep in working order. This ranges from electronics and electricity management and generation, autopilot settings and repairs, weather routing, satellite communication and data download, general maintenance, small or large repairs, food, sleep, and a lot else. The list seems never ending and some skippers will face a learning curve steeper than those who have already done more mileage.
The event requires a minimum 2000 miles passage on the boat entered in the event to be allowed to start, but we make it clear that this is almost to be considered a shakedown test of the boat and that nothing can substitute many more miles of navigation in different conditions to be ready for what will come ahead. We also encourage those miles to be sailed in tough and cold waters, to get a taste of southern ocean conditions.
Many skippers will start from A Coruña and head south, through pushed by the trades and through the Doldrums, then will press on through the South East trade winds and will reach somewhere near Fernando da Noronha. From there they will have to pass through a transition zone and press on further South. They can’t quite yet turn left as the sticky trap of the St. Helena High can be a costly mistake if sailed into. Instead the fleet will have to carry on on a southerly route and traditionally reach somewhere around Tristan da Cunha before effectively “turning left”. In practice, they will have to sail South until they find the first favourable echo of the winds of a roaring forties depression. For those new to the game it will be quite a shock to see the change from the trades winds and the St. Helena high pressure out into the first glimpe of the southern seas. Conditions change dramatically in the space of a few days and there will be only the occasional respite until turning the corner at Cape Horn.
The route to Tristan da Cunha is relatively easy and is rarely a real test of skipper or boat and can be very misleading giving a false sense of security to a skipper. For this reason preparation and putting the boat under some serious stress before departure is key, it would be a very costly mistake to be lulled by trade and light winds all the way to Tristan da Cunha just to find out how incredibly different conditions will be later on.
Preparing mentally for all of this is something that we can hardly do ashore, and hence previous solo mileage is crucial, the more the better. For some sailing in the great south will be exhilarating for some it will be one tiring grim experience. Wet, cold, damp, sailing from storm to storm. For all, it will be something they’ll never forget.
We asked a few of the 38 entries to date what are their plans to prepare for the event.
How do you plan to prepare for the Global Solo Challenge?
The first is to get to know my boat well and prepare it thoroughly. So sail and sail again. It will depend on the budget but the intention is to participate in some races of the Class 40 circuit. On a physical level I will repeat the preparation that I have already used in previous ocean races and that I really like, long running, trail running, gravel bike… And sail a lot to get used to the efforts.
My preparation will be centred on that of my boat. I want to sail with a boat with which I feel good, confident, that I know perfectly.
The first step is to get the boat launched next spring and then get as much sailing in as possible while working to keep the money rolling in. Apart from that, it’s about staying fit and doing a lot of reading and research.
I made small adjustments on the boat to navigate alone after several crossings in Corsica with novice crews to be able to manage the safety on my own.
In 10 years I have sailed a lot (Corsica, Malta, Balearics, …) to get to know my boat well. Last year I did some solo sailing. This year I aim to complete the organisation of the boat in view of a crewed Atlantic crossing. Then the return single-handed. On my return I will finish the work to prepare the boat for the GSC and will sail to get used to all the new equipment that I will have installed.
I am ready with this boat but if I change I’ll have to learn and prepare the new one.
Buy a boat and sail around the UK and Ireland. After that, tune the boat for longer short/single-handed offshore sailing.
Sailing as much as possible to prepare the boat and taking advantage of the greatest number of storms that we can have here in the Mediterranean, which should not be underestimated at all. If I find financial support in time, I would try to register for the 2022 Ostar and if I can’t, the 2023 Round Iceland Race. I am a person with high problem solving skills and capable of great sacrifice, very necessary qualities in delicate situations.
Amaury de Jamblinne
Physical preparation on the one hand and a lot of solo sailing to become one with the boat. Preparation of the boat to strengthen it for the Great South. Hoping that what must break, breaks before departure. If the schedule allows it, a single-handed return Transat to test myself. Also a preparation for weather interpretation and sleep management.
I plan to complete the solo experiences I have set myself and make sure I’m in the best fitness I can be. I have Ulcerative Colitis so I will have to make sure that I have the appropriate medication for the duration of the event. Ultimately I need to find the right boat and get some solo experience.
I will leave in 2022 on a return trip to the Azores alone. Before and after this month of sailing, I will be doing many short voyages for testing and other boat tuning. Physically I will do what it takes to be in great shape on the day of departure.
Testing the boat and training until the day of departure in the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean.
I have all the gear – satnav, safety gear, radar, boat, spares.
I am slowly fettling the boat, and have been since I arrived in Texas in February 2016, so I’ll get on with getting her ship shape.
The real prep will be the sail to Coruña from Texas, so I’d assume that would be Spring of 2023.