Friday, March 01, 2024
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
As of 9 p.m. EST on Feb. 11, Ronnie Simpson was set to finish third in the race, having rounded all three capes and beginning his trek up the eastern coast of South America toward the finish. Weather was not cooperating for Simpson, however, who passed Cape Horn on Feb. 2 fighting winds in the 50-60 knot range. While he was hoping to be out of the worst of it, unfortunately things did not get any better. In a Global Solo Challenge blog post dated Feb. 10, Ronnie wrote, “Even when rounding the Horn, I muted my celebrations because I knew I was going to be facing something that no one else in this race has faced; a huge 40+ knot northerly shortly afterwards. That blow has now become a general theme in my ascension of the Atlantic. Perhaps I will celebrate my Horn rounding when I finally reach the Trades and escape this cruel and dreadful place.” Simpson opted to hug the coastline as he made his way north, considering the low-pressure systems to the east. With the wind coming out of the north, the coastline did give him some respite from the worst of the wind, but the geography of the Andes Mountains made things shifty and unpredictable. Simpson began his move eastward toward the Tradewinds, hoping to keep the boat moving fast enough to avoid the worst of the weather patterns. Sunday night, as he was sailing at 9 knots under three reefs and a storm jib, the boat was launched off a wave and landed particularly violently in the trough. “I heard a bunch of big parts falling on the deck, and that was the mast,” he said in an Instagram live Monday morning. Simpson was hoping to salvage the mast and jury rig the boat to get him back to the Argentinian coast, but the volatile sea state was throttling the mast against the boat’s hull. Fearing that the mast could eventually puncture the hull, and unable to salvage the rig, he was forced to cut the mast free. Simpson has been successfully rescued by a passing ship. His dream of a circumnavigation shattered in as many pieces as his mast.