GSC Skippers Louis Robein and Philippe Delamare – ©GlobalSoloChallenge
This Saturday, September 30th, Marina Coruña, will see the departure of two French skippers: Louis Robein and Philippe Delamare. Louis Robein was set to sail aboard his X-37 ‘Le Souffle de le Mer III’ on his assigned departure on the 23rd, based on his boat’s performance. However, an engine issue caused him to have to delay his start by a week. Thanks to the prompt intervention of Marina Coruña’s Varadero, the issue was swiftly addressed: mechanics replaced the damaged engine gasket and rectified the engine head. Thanks to crowdfunding on the Event website, the public showed solidarity with Louis, helping to offset at least some of the unexpected engine repair cost.
For those not familiar with the Global Solo Challenge‘s rules, it’s important to note that any skipper who delays their start date, effectively penalizes themselves. The staggered starts are designed so that the first to boat to finish will be the outright winner. Therefore, anyone setting off late will have to make up time at sea, but no calculations will be made for actual sailing days, nor will there be compensation for lost time. For many competitors, the primary goal remains completing this extraordinary feat without and not necessarily focusing too much on rankings.
Delamare, having successfully passed his pre-departure inspection, is preparing to depart on time and is finalizing the last details aboard his Actual 46, “Mowgli”. Specifically, he’s focusing on stowing equipment and supplies. Indeed, the GSC rules mandate that all “heavy” equipment be securely fastened and permanently tied down for the skippers’ safety and to handle rough seas or a potential knock-down or capsizing.
Louis’ friends managed to reschedule their trip to A Coruña despite the change in departure date. Philippe’s friends have come to A Coruña to support the skipper and cheer him on at this initial milestone of his journey. A small French community has gathered for this festive occasion, and those who couldn’t make it have already started sending their well wishes. On Thursday evening, a friendly get-together and dinner took place in a typical Galician restaurant, attended by supporters of both skippers, other competitors who had already arrived in A Coruña, and their friends or shore team members.
Here’s a message for Louis from Veronique Robein Defourny, Louis’s sister-in-law: “We met in 1980. Louis is a person very close to his loved ones, family, and friends, discreet, considerate of others, never wanting to be a burden, highly efficient, and always there when you need him. I personally admire his positivity, determination, unwavering will to chase his dreams… and often push himself to the limits of his strength! Louis, you have all my respect for your challenge! A big kiss from all of us and safe travels!”
The two skippers have decided to make two separate departures, a few hours apart, to allow the many relatives and friends to follow the departure on the organization’s RIB. Robein will start around 11:00 local time (9:00 UTC), being free to leave whenever he wants given the delay he’s already accumulated, while Delamare cannot depart before 15:00 local time (13:00 UTC).
At sea, the first two skippers currently sailing, are facing their personal challenges. Dafydd Hughes, who is now nearly a thousand miles south of the equator, shared on his blog how upwind sailing makes life onboard rather uncomfortable. However, small daily victories help him maintain a smile and a positive attitude. He hopes to soon encounter following winds that will accompany him up to the crossing of the first significant cape, the Cape of Good Hope.
Édouard De Keyser, after a slow start due in part to communication issues that forced him closer to the Portuguese coast to find mobile phone signal, continued on his path. Now, having passed the Canary Islands, he is sailing in the northeast trade winds, taknig advantage of favorable conditions to accumulate miles on a good course.
In his blog, Édouard writes: “After a lightning-fast passage boosted by the venturi effect between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, I allowed myself a short break, finding cellular connection and, most importantly, a musical pause. I spoke with friends and family ashore and downloaded some music before setting my course towards the Cape Verde islands. Yesterday, Wednesday, was a somewhat subdued day; I felt strong emotions being able to talk with my loved ones. Yesterday, I decided to take a day of rest and read a book. Now, I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to action.” With the spinnaker hoisted, SolarWind glides in trade winds between 15 and 25 knots.
The theoretical arrival of the fleet, as calculated to create the pursuit format of the Global Solo Challenge, is on March 15, 2024. Based on Dafydd’s current speed, his estimated arrival date is now March 17, only 1 day and 20 hours after the theoretical date. So far, the Welsh skipper has proven to be an excellent sailor, tackling the sea with great skill. His next challenge will be the transition from the southern trade winds into the low pressure systems of the Southern Ocean. Typically, sailors encounter calm zones before meeting the stronger winds further south; the conditions change swiftly within days.
Once he reaches the following winds of the south, he should maintain a good average speed. Ideally, he should gain some margin in the southern seas before Cape Horn. The ascent of the Atlantic often has areas characterized by light winds from Uruguay to Rio de Janeiro. The passage through the intertropical convergence zone is much less problematic on the return journey since the route is more to the west than the outward journey, making the area of light winds much easier to cross. Considering Dafydd’s performance in this first month of sailing and if he can preserve his vessel in the challenging southern seas, Hughes is well poised for an extraordinary result.
Marco Nannini, creator and organizer of the Global Solo Challenge, stated: “It is reassuring to see that the first competitor, after 4,000 miles, is precisely in line with the theoretical arrival predictions. Édouard had a slow start and took time to get into the right rhythm, thus being a bit behind schedule. However, I believe his boat feels the effect of the extra weight of food supplies more than Dafydd’s. As a result, he might prove faster and more competitive in the second half of the circumnavigation.”
If you are interested in knowing the estimated arrival time of the participants, you can check the Global Solo Challenge website. The information can be found both on the homepage ranking and on the t