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.

Bernardin’s event does have some rules. Vessels are limited to anything 52 feet long and under. Participants (not competitors, as there will be no prizes or awards) should start from either a port north of 45 degrees north latitude in Europe, or north of 41 degrees on the east coast of North America, sometime between June 18 and September 30 next year. They are to circle the globe non-stop via the southern great capes and return to an as yet undisclosed French port north of 45 degrees.

LR route

The route of Longue Route 2018

Other than that, all are free to run their own voyages as they see fit and can judge for themselves whether they have respected Moitessier’s legacy.

I am very pleased that Bernardin is doing this. I met him once briefly at the end of the 1986-87 BOC Challenge in Newport and later saw him knocking around Narragansett Bay on his fantastic replica of Joshua Slocum’s Spray, in which he sailed around the world with his family after retiring from racing. Of all the solo-racing sailors I’ve met and/or followed his heart has seemed closest to the spirit of what these sorts of events (IMHO) should be about.

Bernardin and Spray

Guy Bernardin with Spray of Saint-Briac. He’s raced in the OSTAR, the BOC, the Route du Rhum, the Vendee Globe, and other events. He’ll be 74 when he starts Longue Route 2018 next year

Biscuits LU

Bernardin aboard his 60-footer Biscuits LU in the 1986-87 BOC Challenge. He came in fourth

As Bernardin puts it on the Longue Route 2018 website:

On this occasion, Guy invites other sailors to join him on this passage, in the same state of mind as Bernard Moitessier. This is not a race, there are no rules, nor constraints or obligations, or awards. It is a return to true values, individual and human responsibilities of the sailor and the man. Freedom and serenity to be alone at sea.

I have to say I’m wondering if Bernardin has launched this event directly in response to McIntyre’s effort. The question now is: which event will attract more sailors?

McIntyre has been promoting his Golden Globe Race for a year now and claims to have filled his roster of 30 competitors, with others standing by on a wait list. You can see a list of entrants here, though it is not complete, as allegedly some competitors want to remain anonymous. I am encouraged to see some Americans on the roster, and I am very intrigued by the Palestinian entry.

One GGR entrant, Shane Freeman from Australia, unfortunately had to abandon his boat, Mushka, a Tradewind 35, after he was rolled and dismasted last month west of Chile while en route to the race’s starting point in the UK. (Read the report on this and you’ll see McIntyre states at the end there is now no one on the wait list. Elsewhere on the site he also suggests there will only be 25 entrants, which coincidentally is the number of skippers currently on the skippers page.)

Muska dismasts

Freeman’s Mushka, down and out for the count

The Longue Route list, meanwhile, has just eight entrants on it per the website, though according to one report I’ve seen there may be 10. Check the bios and you’ll see a range of boats being used, from a steel ketch Joshua knock-off to fiberglass production boats.


Malala, a steel ketch to be sailed by Anders Eriksson, a Swede, in Longue Route 2018


Eden (on the left), a Damien 40 built in steel, to be sailed by Bruno Challard, is seen here rafted alongside Moitessier’s Joshua in La Rochelle. Very cool!


This, to my mind, is the most interesting Longue Route entrant. Askatasun, a plywood/epoxy gaff ketch (evidently unfinished in this photo) with twin keels and rudders, to be sailed by Olivier Merbau

I won’t be too surprised if we see several more Longue Route entrants, now that the event is getting some publicity. Unlike McIntyre’s event, you don’t need to go out and get a special boat to do it. You don’t have to do any qualifying this or that. You don’t have to throw out all your modern electronics. You can just go in the boat you already have.

I’m even starting to wonder myself: should I do this???

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