With less than 1,700 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, second-place Mark Slats of the Netherlands has cut another 393 miles out of the lead held by French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in the Golden Globe 2018 race.
Jean-Luc aboard the Rustler 36 Matmut has led the solo, round-the-world marathon ever since passing the Cape of Good Hope and at one stage held a 2,000-mile advantage. However, he has seen his lead whittled away ever since suffering a knock-down and sustaining damage to his mast during a Southern Ocean storm in the South Pacific back in November.
Currently, less than 50 miles separate the two. However, Van Den Heede still holds a weather advantage and once past the influence of the Azores High, should be first to benefit from the reaching winds that will give him an easier passage north toward the Bay of Biscay and home.
For his part, Slats, sailing aboard another Rustler 36 named Ohpen Maverick, is also dealing with a number of problems, including the fact he ran out of freshwater a week ago and is now using his emergency desalinator to meet his needs. Of course, this is hard work. An hour of pumping with produces barely a cup of water, which means he is now spending around three hours of each day pumping.
Slats also reported that during a period of calm three weeks ago he had dived on his boat’s hull and completely cleaned the bottom. `'It was perfect" he said afterward. Imagine his surprise, then, when he dived again two and a half weeks after that only to find the hull infested with barnacles once more. "The biggest is 1.5in long, but most are about 3/4in. They are growing all over the hull," he reported.
Alas, his initial efforts to get the bottom clean again were thwarted by the appearance of a 10ft shark. However, he says he will use the next period of calm to have another go. "So far, this must have cost me about 50 miles," he says. For the latest on the race and complete standings, click here.