Hunt for raceleader, no drinking water

2019 January 13th | Golden Globe Race

At the end of November 2018 Slats' distance to finish was 7,659 nautical miles in the miserable sailing race around the world, the Golden Globe Race. The race leader, the 73-year-old Frenchman Jean-Luc van den Heede, had a giant lead of 1260 miles on the 41-year-old from Wassenaar The Netherlands at that time.

At this moment there are only 5 of the 18 entrants left in the race and the Frenchman's lead has been reduced to about 190 miles (based on distance to the finish). For two months, Slats reduced Van den Heede's lead on average 24 miles per day. Van den Heede sailed an average of 97 miles per day, whereas Slats sailed with an average of 121 miles per day.

At the time of writing, the Frenchman's lead was reduced to 190 miles. His estimated time of arrival is by the app YB-races on 28 January, 15 days from now. When calculating for Slats with the same time of arrival, he must sail an average of 133 miles per day, which is 13 miles or 11% more than the Frenchman's daily average.

If you crossed the line of 20% for Slats he would arrive in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, within two weeks. However, this line can not be extended with certainty. Slats' finish time also depends on various factors such as boat speed, wind force and wind direction as well as boat and physical conditions. However, based on his performance over the past 2 months, it can be said that profit is still feasible for the the Flying Dutchman from Wassenaar. So it is still a real race.

The entrants were allowed to bring a limited amount of diesel on board at the start, which can be used at their own discretion during the race. From 250 miles before the finish, however, no more motions are allowed. Slats sailed from Cape Horn to the equator in 31 days. During those days he only used his engine for 4 hours. Just to keep the engine moving and to recharge its batteries. In the doldrums, Slats has used his engine for another 4-5 hour during a period of heavy thunderstorms. On the radio, Slats reported to have witnessed lightning strike a few hundred meters from his boat.

Physical disabilities disturbed Slats during the last weeks. Just 5,5 months before the start of the Golden Globe Race on 1 July 2018, Slats finished as the first solo rowingboat in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2017. In 30 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes he rowed from La Gomera (Canary Islands) to Antigua in the Caribbean the Atlantic Ocean. He finished as first soloboat and pulverized the world record. During this race Slats had to contend with discomforts on his buttocks because of the salt water. Now these problems play out again during the Golden Globe Race. Slats sailed in tropical temperatures and had to contend with a lot of headwinds. When he worked on deck with a lot of water coming over his deck he could not keep his buttocks clean and dry. In the end, Slats decided to clean his wounds with alcohol and keep them dry as much as possible by working on deck in tropical temperatures wearing his Southern Ocean sailing gear.

From the equator Slats has come on board without drinking water. For a long time it had not rained and when it finally rained the rainwater was mixed too much with the salt water that came over the deck. For Slats, who collects money during the race under the name Sailing4cancer for research by Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis. His charity is for cheaper medicines for cancer, giving up is not an option. In consultation with the race organizer Don McIntyre, Slats was able to appeal to the hand desalinator from his 'grab bag' (bag with emergency provisions). This means that he has to pump by hand for 3-4 hours per night to provide himself with less than a liter of water per day. The desalinator is not intended for a week-long use. So we wonder for how long Slats can use it.

After a period of constant wind, Slats also had to deal with less wind. On this he decided to jump into the water to inspect the hull of his boat, the Ohpen Maverick. Slats found more growth than expected. This fouling (also called barnacles) reduces the boat speed. Armed with a scraper and sandpaper, Slats tackled the growth. A 4-meter-long shark scared him out of the body. The shark came to take a look, made a round around Mark and the Maverick and left again.

Slats is expected at the port of Les Sables d'Olonne in France around the end of January. About two and a half weeks later he is expected in the Netherlands. In his last message via ham radio Slats told us he can smell the steak and other good food waiting for him at Les Sables d'Olonne.

Pressrelease by Karen Hogenbirk | Hogenbirk Support
Photo: Christophe Favreau | Christophe Favreau Photography