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.
Of course we’re all jaded now and are used to race starts out of Les Sables that see singlehanded Open 60s flying out of the Bay of Biscay in less than a day. Still, I think it’s kind of fun seeing these small, slow boats creeping and crawling across the bay into light headwinds more than two days after the start. They are mere mortals, like the rest of us, which is sort of the point of this.
The GGR website has a fine tracking feature, so I’m looking forward to following the action, however slowly it unfolds. Though competitors are not allowed to use GPS navigation or other modern gizmos while sailing their boats, they will be calling in by satellite phone once week to give audio reports that will be posted on the GGR website. Unlike the original event, which saw weeks and months go by with no reports from competitors, this time we can keep close track of what’s going on, not only boat positions, but general boat and skipper status as well.
So far the coolest thing about the race, IMHO, has been that it has put Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili (foreground) and Bernard Moitessier’s Joshua (background) together on the same patch of water for the very first time. These two boats, seen here at the GGR start on Sunday, were the two major players in the original race, yet never met in person before now
Abhilash Tomy, of India, where the original Suhaili was built, is racing on Thuriya, a replica of Suhaili
Here we see two of the original competitors, Alex Carozzo (left) and Robin Knox-Johnston (right), hanging with my favorite competitor in this GGR rehash, Susie Goodall, who is sailing DHL Starlight, a Rustler 36
My other favorite competitor is Nabil Amra, a Palestinian, racing on Liberty II, a Biscay 36
Meanwhile, the other retro rehash of the Golden Globe, Longue Route 2018, which is highly unstructured, has been running for some time. It’s not a race, but a non-competitive tribute, with different sailors taking off from different locations to sail non-stop around the world alone as their own schedules and whims dictate. Predictably, this event’s tracking feature is fairly crude, but it does allow you to follow what’s happening.
LR 2018 has more registered participants than the GGR, 26 versus 18, but so far only 12 are showing up on the tracker. That boat you see way out in front of the others, now approaching the Cape Verdes, is Nehaj, an aluminum cutter sailed by a German woman, Suzanne Huber-Curphey, who sailed out of Portland, Maine, last month. If only I’d known! I would have gone up to see her off. She is currently my most favorite participant in both events combined.
Huber-Curphey aboard Nehaj. This woman is the real thing! This past January she won the Ocean Cruising Club Barton Cup for being the first woman to transit the Northwest Passage singlehanded. In 2008 she won the Cruising Club of America’s Rod Stephens Trophy for singlehandedly rescuing her husband and towing him on his boat some 650 miles in challenging conditions
Nehaj, a Koopman design, in all her glory. I’ll give you odds she’ll be the first boat home of all those running in both these events
Extra bonus: Here’s some fine French TV coverage of the GGR start. Even if you can’t understand French, it’s worth watching for the old footage from the original race, particularly the film Berbard Moitessier shot while sailing on Joshua. Just gorgeous stuff!