Probably the most important piece of equipment a solo sailor can take with him is his self steering gear. This vital piece of equipment will be the sailor’s First Mate and helmsman 24 hours a day, every single day for close to ten months! It steers the boat in all but the calmest weather. The stronger the wind gets, the better the wind vane performs. It steers in the day and at night, in storms and in torrential rain! It needs to be robust, powerful and sensitive. Without it, the human sailor cannot hope to race his boat safely or at anything approaching optimum levels. In the last edition of this race in 2018, most of the retirees cited wind vane failure as the primary reason for throwing in the towel.
Modern sailboats have electrically powered autopilots that attach to the boat’s steering quadrant or tiller and steer to either a compass heading or an apparent wind angle relayed from the masthead wind sensor unit.
For the Golden Globe Race in 2022, we are limited to traditional equipment that was available to the fleet that started the original race in 1968. This means that we may not use electronic autopilots but can use a wind vane to steer the boat while the skipper is otherwise engaged.
My choice of wind vane is a fantastic piece of kit manufactured by Windpilot in Germany. The model I have selected is the Windpilot Pacific which is a servo pendulum type, perfect for the design of Ollenna’s transom.