Golden Globe Race – stepping back to the golden age of solo sailing 50 years on

Painting of SUHAILI by Melbourne Smith. Published by Rudder Magazine in September 1974
Painting of SUHAILI by Melbourne Smith. Published by Rudder Magazine in September 1974

Like the original Sunday Times event back in 1968/9, the 2018 Golden Globe Race is very simple. Depart Falmouth, England on June 16th 2018 and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to Falmouth. Entrants are limited to use the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin Knox-Johnston in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite based navigation aids. Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 – 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 and having a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts will be heavily built, strong and steady, similar in concept to Robin’s 32ft vessel Suhaili.

In contrast to the current professional world of elite ocean racing, this edition travels back to a time known as the ‘Golden Age’ of solo sailing. Suhaili was a slow and steady 32ft double-ended ketch based on a William Atkins ERIC design. She is heavily built of teak and carried no computers, GPS, satellite phone nor water-maker, and Robin completed the challenge without the aid of modern day shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer.

This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. Competitors in this race will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for ‘those who dare’, just as it was for Knox-Johnston. They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand–write their logs and determine the weather for themselves. Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high frequency and ham radios allow.

It is now possible to race a monohull solo around the world in under 80 days, but sailors entered in this race will spend around 300 days at sea, challenging themselves and each other. The 2018 Golden Globe Race will be a fitting tribute to the first edition and it’s winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

The GGR will be run under the auspices of the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club based in Tonga, with the Royal Cornwall YC officiating at the start and finish in Falmouth. His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala of Tonga is Patron of the Race.

The yachts will be tracked 24/7 by satellite, but competitors will not be able to interrogate this information unless an emergency arises and they break open containing a GPS and satellite phone. Doing this however, has consequences. By breaking the seal, competitors will be deemed to have retired from the Golden Globe Race, and instead will be relegated to the Gipsy Moth Class as if they had made a stop.

The Race in numbers
• The course: 30,000 miles with 4 rendezvous gates
• 30 entrants accepted plus 7 on wait list.
• Competitors represent 15 countries (some entrants remain confidential until sponsorship is announced)
• America (4) Australia (3) Brazil (1) Britain (5) Estonia (1) France (7) Germany (1) Ireland (1) Italy (2) New Zealand (1) Palestine (1) Switzerland (1)
• Oldest competitor: Jean-Luc van den Heede (FRA) 71.
• Youngest competitors: aged 26: Roy Hubbard (USA) Susie Goodall (GBR) Neree Cornuz and Eduardo Raimondo (ITA)

Selection of yachts to date:
• Rustler 36 (7)
• Belliure Endurance 35 (4)
• Ta Shing Babe 35 (3)
• Tradewind 35 (3)
• Suhaili Eric design replica (3)
• Nicholson 32 Mk 10 (2)
• Biscay 36 (2)
• OE 32 (1)
• Lello 34 (1)
• Westsail 32 (1)
• Gaia Benello 36 (1)

Following an approach and request from the race organisers, The International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS) has developed a survey programme for Golden Globe Race yachts with MS Amlin, the marine insurance specialists, to provide common survey reports across the globe.

MS Amlin has close historical ties with the Golden Globe Race and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the 1968/9 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, having provided marine insurance under the brand name Haven Knox-Johnston for 30 years. Ric De Cristofano, MS Amlin’s lead underwriter explains: “We are very pleased that the IIMS has stepped in to standardise survey inspections and results for these boats which are currently spread across the world. Their surveyors will be able to monitor these refits and we as insurers will have the assurance from these reports that the yachts are fully prepared for sailing solo around the globe.”

Mark Schwarz, the CEO of IIMS adds, “We are very proud to be associated with the 2018 Golden Globe Race. The IIMS has several hundred professional small boat surveyors worldwide, some of whom will be working to provide comparable inspections and reports for these yachts, making it much easier for insurers to assess the risks involved.”

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