Abhilash Tomy, who is currently in second place in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, says he will continue his current track up the Atlantic until he finds the westerly winds

Finding the westerly winds will be crucial for the leaders in the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

Leader Kirsten Neuschafer and second placed Abhilash Tomy chose very different routes up the Atlantic, with Neuschafer favouring a more easterly route away from the rhumb line.

Tomy went west aboard his Rustler 36, Bayanat.

Abhilash Tomy is continuing to head north until he finds the westerly winds. Credit: Abhilash Tomy/GGR 2022

Abhilash Tomy is continuing to head north until he finds the westerly winds. Credit: Abhilash Tomy/GGR 2022

‘I didn’t have a strategy because you need information to make a strategy [at the time his HF radio wasn’t working],’ explained the former Indian commander.

‘In the south Atlantic, I was forced to stay west because of the problems in the boat. There was one day where I could have gone more east but I had to replace the running backstay, and I had to work on the sail so I couldn’t go more east. I crossed the ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone) three times and really got stuck in light winds. The Guyanan current was really pushing me west with very little wind, and it was virtually impossible to tack to the east because the boat was not pointing at all because of the current.

‘I had to put in a lot of hard work at the equator, and as soon as I crossed, my focus was to get away from the equator as quickly as possible which meant I was sailing northwest initially, at good speed. Even now, the plan is to get as far north as quickly as possible; going east is not a concern right now, I will do that once I start getting the westerly winds,’ he said.

A sailor wearing a blue jacket

Abhilash Tomy expected more downwind sailing in the 2022 Golden Globe Race. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Currently, less than 24 hours separate Neuschafer, Tomy and Simon Curwen, who is leading the Chichester Class, and could well take line honours in the Golden Globe Race.

It might mean that the winner of the round the world solo yacht race could be decided by time penalties.

Neuschafer currently has a 30 litre fuel allowance and a 35 hour time compensation for her role in the rescue of fellow Golden Globe Race skipper, Tapio Lehtinen. His Gaia 36 sank 450 miles south east of South Africa.

Tomy has a 12 hour time compensation as he was the first to divert course and respond to Lehtinen’s distress call.

Abhilash Tomy, a skipper in the Golden Globe Race, wearing a blue tshirt

Abhilash Tomy has previously circumnavigated the world solo and non-stop. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

He confirmed that he has no fuel leak on board, and that he has fixed the problems with his battery bank, although he is continuing to be conservative, turning everything off at night apart from the navigation lights and charging his sat phone and other items during the daytime.

‘There is not a major fuel leak. What happened was when I had the the knockdown [while approaching Cape Horn] the mast of my wind generator, that goes through the deck, knocked out a hose which was supposed to be a breather for the fuel tank. A little bit of diesel would come out now and then and went to the bilge. There was a lot of water in the bilge so I thought there was a lot of diesel. There wasn’t.  At the equator, in flat water, I checked the level of the diesel and I didn’t loose much, probably half a litre or something,’ he said.

A back of a boat with a self steering system

Abhilash Tomy is one of two skippers in the race who is using a Windpilot self-steering system – the other is Jeremy Bagshaw. Credit: Katy Stickland

He does, however, have to be careful with his Wind Pilot windvane steering.

Since being knocked down in the Southern Ocean, he has gone through all of his spare pendulum blades and has resorted to fashioning replacements out of what is available onboard.

‘It is fixable but not as good as the original. I am kind of living with what I have. I have been experimenting. I cut up my bathroom door to make a replacement but that broke, Then I took out some wood from the hatch cover and that broke and finally I dismantled my anchor and I’ve put an aluminium shaft in there and that seems to be holding so far.’

During the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Tomy had no problems with the Wind Pilot aboard his ERIC Suhaili replica masthead ketch, Thuriya.

‘In 2018, nothing happened to the Wind Pilot and then in this race, three of the Wind Pilots broke in quick succession. There could be two reasons, although I am no expert. The last boat (Thuriya) was a ketch, which gave much better balance, and secondly, I think this particular Wind Pilot is installed a little too low. The pilot goes deeper in the water which is not a good thing,’ he said.

Continues below…

Tomy said he was not receiving any weather information, but hoped to pick up the BBC once he was in the Bay of Biscay.

He has plenty of water, but some of his canned food has rotten, and he has found worms in it, although he stresses he has enough edible food to reach the finish. He has just one pack of popcorn left.

Abhilash Tomy is just over 2,000 miles from the finish, with less than 50 miles separating him from Kirsten Neuschafer. He will tack east towards Les Sables d’Olonne once he is sailing in westerly winds. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR 2022

‘I am looking forward to the finish. It has been 8 months; another month and I might even deliver a baby,’ he joked. ‘My estimate was that it [the race] would be much shorter because we started late, so I thought there would be more downwind sailing. In 2018, we had a lot of downwind sailing in the Indian Ocean so I thought 2022 might be faster. But I think due to the two gates and due to the Exclusion Zones, it is actually much longer.’

Asked for an ETA for the finish, Tomy said he would cross the line within a month.

Current positions of the Golden Globe Race 2022 skippers on 12 April 2022 at 1200 UTC

Kirsten Neuschafer, (South Africa), Cape George 36 cutter, Minnehaha
Abhilash Tomy, (India), Rustler 36, Bayanat
Michael Guggenberger, (Austria), Biscay 36, Nuri

Chichester Class:

Simon Curwen, (UK), Biscay 36, Clara
Jeremy Bagshaw, (South Africa), OE32, Olleanna


Edward Walentynowicz, (Canada), Rustler 36, Noah’s Jest
Guy deBoer, (USA), Tashiba 36, Spirit
Mark Sinclair (Australia), Lello 34, Coconut
Pat Lawless, (Ireland), Saltram Saga 36, Green Rebel
Damien Guillou, (France), Rustler 36, PRB
Ertan Beskardes, (UK), Rustler 36, Lazy Otter
Tapio Lehtinen, (Finland), Gaia 36, Asteria
Arnaud Gaist, (France), Barbican 33 Mk 2, Hermes Phoning
Elliot Smith,  (USA), Gale Force 34, Second Wind
Guy Waites (UK), Tradewind 35, Sagarmatha
Ian Herbert-Jones (UK), Tradewind 35, Puffin

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