Golden Globe Race

  • BERNARD MOITESSIER: Sailing Mysticism and The Long Way

    Long Way cover

    It is interesting that our three major monotheistic “revealed” religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--are all the fruit of mystic transmissions received by prophets who isolated themselves in the desert. And in Buddhism, of course, though it is not really theistic, we have a belief system based on the enlightenment of a man who isolated himself beneath a tree. But curiously, though humans (as we have discussed before) have long wandered across the watery part of our world, an inherently isolating experience, from the very beginning of our existence, we have in our history no real prophet of the sea.

    I think most would agree now that the man who most closely fits the description is Bernard Moitessier, the iconoclastic French singlehander who became notorious in 1969 after he abandoned the Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, so as to “save his soul.” Most sailors probably would also agree that the book Moitessier wrote about his experience, The Long Way (La longue route in the original French, 1971), though it obviously has never spawned any sort of religion, is the closest thing we have to a spiritual text.

  • GOLDEN GLOBE RACE 2018: A Highly Regulated Retro Singlehanded Round-the-World Event

    Suhaili under sail

    We have an announcement this week that ex-BOC Race competitor Don McIntyre is organizing a retro reprise of the famous 1968-69 Golden Globe Race to start June 14, 2018, in Falmouth, UK. This being the 50th anniversary of the date on which Robin Knox-Johnston departed from that same port on the voyage that brought him fame, fortune, and victory in the original event. The tip being that all competitors in this new event must race using only technology that was aboard Knox-Johnston's 32-foot wood ketch Suhaili in the original race (see photo up top), but are prohibited from sailing in a boat identical to Suhaili or in any boat similar to the ones that competed in the first race.

  • GOLDEN GLOBE RACE: Back in the Atlantic, Attrition, Bending the Rules

    GGR tracker

    There’s certainly been no lack of drama in this year’s “remake” of the first non-stop round-the-world Golden Globe Race of 50 years ago. As one would expect the attrition rate has been high, with dismastings, rescues at sea, injuries, including one broken back, and very thankfully (so far) no fatalities. Of the 18 sailors who set out on this adventure back in July, only eight are still sailing. Or wait… that may be seven now, as word comes this morning that Susie Goodall, on DHL Starlight, has just set off her EPIRB. Bummer!

    Amazingly, two GGR boats have already turned the corner at Cape Horn and are back in the Atlantic Ocean with their bows pointed north toward the finish line. At this same point in the original race, Robin Knox-Johnston and Bernard Moitessier were still in the neighborhood of Australia and New Zealand, with all the Pacific Ocean in front of them. However this turns out, I think the race has been a great success. As I’ve been following it, however, I’ve raised my eyebrows a few times at how the race organizer, Don McIntyre, has meddled with things, granting dispensations to sailors who have violated the rules and changing the rules in mid-race.

  • GOLDEN GLOBE RACE: Windvane Politics

    GGR tracker

    Here we are a shade more than a month into Don McIntyre’s Golden Globe retro tribute race and already the pot is stirring nicely. There are three distinct leaders, Jean-Luc van den Heede (an older but highly experienced solo ocean racer), Philippe Peche, and Mark Slats, all sailing Rustler 36s, with the main peloton not too too far behind. Meanwhile, three sailors have already quit the race altogether, two of them complaining of windvane problems. Another competitor, Antoine Cousot, stopped to regroup in the Canaries, complaining of his windvane and mental stress, then continued sailing in the non-competitive Chichester Class. Another, Istvan Kopar, meanwhile broke communications protocols (i.e., he turned on his sat phone) to also demote himself to Chichester status, complaining (you guessed it) of windvane problems. Istvan intended to stop and swap vanes in the Cape Verdes, but then thought better of it and successfully lobbied to be allowed to continue racing.

  • GOLDEN GLOBE REVISITED: They're Off and Running

    GGR start

    It has begun! Seventeen competitors in Don McIntyre’s Golden Globe Race 2018, a highly structured tribute event honoring the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, took off from Les Sables d’Olonne Sunday at noon local time. An 18th sailor, Francesco Cappelletti, of Italy, is still in port working to pass a safety inspection and complete sailing trials. First across the line when the starting cannon sounded (fired by Robin Knox-Johnston aboard Suhaili, the boat in which he won the original event) was a Frenchman, Phillipe Péché, sailing a Rustler 36 named PRB. Reading the official account, it seems it was a hard-fought start, especially considering that the boats will be racing for 9-10 months over a course of 30,000 miles, give or take.

  • LONGUE ROUTE 2018: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to Bernard Moitessier's Great Voyage

    Joshua under sail

    So now, as the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race of 1968-69 draws on nigh, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. We have on the one hand a highly organized tribute event: the previously discussed Golden Globe Race 2018, put together by ex-BOC racer Don McIntyre, with a fixed starting time and location and all kinds of strict rules and limitations as to boats to be sailed and equipment to be used. And now we also have an utterly disorganized anti-matter tribute event: Longue Route 2018, being put together by another ex-BOC racer, Guy Bernardin, in recognition of Bernard Moitessier’s role in the original race.

    Moitessier, on his 40-foot steel ketch Joshua (see photo up top), of course became a legend when he blew off his chance to win the Golden Globe, the first-ever solo non-stop round-the-world competition, and kept on sailing around the world again so as to “save his soul.” The book he wrote about his voyage, La longe route (in the original French, or The Long Way, in the English translation), has since inspired all sailors with a spiritual bent and most particularly French sailors, who (ironically) have dominated long-distance singlehanded ocean racing ever since.

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