Skeleton Crew, the only American team in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race, have announced they are retiring from the event due to "unexpected challenges"

The Skeleton Crew – made up of military veterans – were one of the last teams to sign up for the Ocean Globe Race, and they worked hard to prepare their Swan 51, Godspeed, in time for the race start from Southampton in September.

But during Leg 1 of the race, the yacht’s boom cracked six inches and Godspeed diverted to Cascais in Portugal to make repairs. This is allowed under the Notice of Race as long as the team have no outside assistance.

Skeleton Crew were the last team to make it to Cape Town – the end of Leg 1 – taking 58 days, arriving three days after Leg 2 – from Cape Town to Auckland – had started.

A man looking up at a sail on a boat

Godspeed is a Swan 51 – the smallest yacht in the Ocean Globe Race fleet
CREDIT: Team Godspeed/ OGR2023

The other teams in the Ocean Globe Race left Good Luck cards and gifts of beer to wish them “godspeed” on Leg Two.

But Skeleton Crew have now decided to withdraw from the race.

In a statement, the skipper of Godpseed, Taylor Grieger, said it was with a heavy heart that the team had made the decision.

“As many of you are aware, our participation in this race was driven by a deep passion for adventure, a commitment to pushing boundaries, and the unwavering support of our dedicated followers and sponsors. Your belief in our mission and your generous support have been the wind in our sails, propelling us toward the realisation of a shared dream.

“However, in the face of unexpected challenges, including a set back in our timeline with the cracked boom and crew changes in Cape Town, we find it necessary to prioritise the safety of our crew and the integrity of our vessel.

A man tattooing another man on a boat

The crew of Godspeed is made up of military veterans. CREDIT: Team Godspeed/OGR2023

“We understand that this news may come as a disappointment to our followers, supporters, and sponsors, and for that, we extend our sincere apologies. Your support means the world to us, and we want to assure you that this decision was not made lightly. We are determined to emerge from this experience stronger, more resilient, and with a renewed commitment to the values that bind us together”

“Watch this space maybe we’ll be back in 4 years!” concluded Grieger.

Continues below…

The decision by the crew of Godspeed means there are now 13 teams left in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race

Two of the remaining boats, the South African entrant, Sterna, and the Australian crew on Explorer, have also faced challenges.

The Swan 57, Explorer re-started Leg 2 yesterday, having returned to Cape Town with a damaged furler, potential damage to the forestay and a missing genoa.

Explorer’s skipper, Mark Sinclair, explained what happened”

“The famous Cape Doctor, also known as a South East wind, was blowing at around 40 – 45 knots in Table Bay. We got underway with appropriate sail setup and were promptly becalmed in the lee of Table Mountain. We bobbed around for a few hours and eventually made our way out of the wind shadow progressing from full sail, down through the gears until they were well reefed with three tucks in the mainsail, a furled away genoa and a staysail.

A boat under sail

Explorer has now set off again in Leg 2. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/OGR2023

“The boat was sailing comfortably as we made our way south towards the Cape of Good Hope where the conditions became more and more boisterous with the wind closer to 60 knots! While the crew were adjusting the sails to the conditions, we noticed that the genoa had a small section unfurled and while resolving this to reduce wind age upfront, the furling line parted and the genoa partially unfurled.

“We took the most effective action to remedy this by turning downwind to put the sail in the lee of the mainsail but unfortunately, the genoa unfurled completely and was flogging wildly. At the same time, the genoa halyard parted and the sail started working its way down the foil of the furler. Despite our best efforts, the crew were unable to retrieve the sail which had mostly dropped into the water next to the boat and we were left with no option but to cut it away. With the situation under control, the crew gathered to assess their options and after much deliberation, it was decided that the potential damage to the forestay that we could not assess inside the foil, and the damaged furler were sufficient motivation to make a speedy return to Cape [Town].”

The furler forestay, which was bent, was spent to Sparcraft for repairs to both the top and bottom thrust bearings. The top thrust bearing plate bent under pressure and chaffed through the genoa halyard. It has now been replaced with a Profurl furler

Due to the outside assistance received by Explorer‘s crew, the team is still in the event, but will be out of the rankings for Leg 2; South African team, Sterna is also in the same position, having hauled out in Mossel Bay for rudder maintenance.

A yacht up on bricks

Work on Sterna’s rudder means team have yet to start Leg 2. Credit: Sterna/All Spice Yachting/OGR 2023

“We discovered Sterna’s rudder was leaking,” explained Sterna’s Gerrit Louw.

“We suspected that the rudder bracket mounted on the outside of the boat had some movement in it that resulted in leakage both between the seal and the rudder stock, as well as between the hull and the rudder tube so being that safety comes first we diverted to Mossel Bay. We hauled out, but it’s a fishing harbour with very limited support so it’s a very antiquated and interesting haul out. They basically lift you up and then hammer all these old teak blocks under the boat for support. We have boat builders from Cape Town coming to do the work and we’re taking no risks with this one. We want to ensure it’s perfect for when we are back in the Southern Ocean,” he added.

Sterna should restart Leg 2 later this week.

Meanwhile, Tapio Lehtinen, the skipper of the Swan 55, Galiana with Secure, has paid tribute to his Gaia 36, which sank 450 miles south-east of Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

Lehtinen was racing in the 2022 Golden Globe Race when Asteria began taking on water; the boat sank in 5 minutes, stern first, and the Finnish sailor had to abandon to a liferaft. He was later rescued by fellow Golden Globe Race skipper (and now Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2023), Kirsten Neuschäfer before he was transferred to the  bulk carrier, Darya Gayatri.

Lehtinen raised the Finnish flag and toasted the boat with Finnish Jaloviina brandy on 18 November – exactly one year since Asteria‘s stinking.

Positions of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet – Leg 2: Cape Town to Auckland at 1200 UTC on 20 November 2023. These positions will change under the IRC rating. Line honours are shown below. 

Pen Duick VI (France)
Translated 9 (Italy)
Maiden (UK)
Spirit of Helsinki (Finland)
L’Esprit d’Equipe (France)
Triana (France)
Outlaw (Australia)
Galiana with Secure (Finland)
Evrika (France)
Neptune (France)
White Shadow (Spain)
Explorer (Australia)

Yet to start Leg 2
Sterna (South Africa)

Godspeed (USA)

Enjoyed reading And then there were 13..Godspeed out of the Ocean Globe Race?

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