In March 1968, the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race was announced – the first ever attempt to sail solo non-stop around the world. There was no entry fee, virtually no rules nor qualification requirements because most of those who become entrants were already well on the way with their planning to attempt this challenge anyway. By offering a trophy for the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world via the five great capes and another £5000 pounds for the fastest time, the newspaper created an instant race and a great story to help increase its circulation. The next edition starts Sunday, July 1 2018 in the French Sables d'Olonne.
This is a 30,000 nautical mile long non-stop race around the world with classic sailing boats and without any modern navigational aids. This is the essence of the idea behind the Golden Globe Race and it is literally back in time for the eighteen participants. Going back to that event in 1968 meant sailing without a GPS (Global Positioning System) for precise positioning and instead using an old-style sextant that measures the vertical angle between the moon and the horizon for navigation. The sailors need to calculate and outline the course themselves and without advanced technology to study weather and wind forecasts. There are very limited communication resources available and only in case of emergency is it allowed to use these devices which are sealed in box. The contest rules do provide lifesaving equipment such as a raft and AIS which nearby ships can see on their own equipment. This is in the interests of safety and to prevent unwanted collisions.
There is no doubt that the Golden Globe Race is a real challenge for the sailors and their boats and fifty years ago the contest was won by the English sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. It earned him the £5,000, but more importantly eternal fame. Four of the nine participants gave up before they crossed the Atlantic. The boat of Nigel Tetley sank and one contestant went crazy and probably jumped overboard in the Caribbean. His ship was later found unmanned.
Of course there are now other solo sailing competitions, such as the Vendée Globe, but these sailing events are sailed with modern, super-fast high tech boats and are equipped with all the modern aids and navigational equipment.
This is in strong contrast to what is allowed during the Golden Globe. And that’s what makes this race so mythical and unique.
Some might ask what inspires a sailor to start this round the world competition for almost 9 months solo, non-stop and under very 'primitive' circumstances. The Dutchman Mark Slats, who earlier this year in record time crossed the Atlantic Ocean, has an answer. '' Apart from the sporting challenge, it is special to be part of sailing history. That it is now being written, that is for certain.
In contrast to the sailors who participated in the Volvo Ocean Race, you could describe the participants in the Golden Globe as adventurers and 'vintage sailors' with a preference for retro. It is a mixed bunch, of which the experienced French ocean sailor Jean-Luc van der Heede at 72 years of age is the oldest while British sailor Susie Goodall is the youngest at 28. It is difficult to say who will follow in the footsteps of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and win the race this time. This depends on so many factors such as the (weather) conditions during the world voyage, unforeseen setbacks ... and the mental and physical condition of the sailors. That it will be a war of attrition is for certain and for them all the sailing will be the biggest challenge.
Participants in the 2018 GGR
Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
Are Wiig (DEN) OE 32 Olleanna
Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda
Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Francesco Cappelletti (ITI) Endurance 35 007
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Philippe Peche (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
What are the sailors allowed to take with them
Basic echo sounder
AIS transponder, without access GPS
three-stranded lines, handmade
35mm film camera
Super8 video camera
What can the sailors not take with you
AIS linked to GPS chartplotters
Electric car pilots
Ipod or equivalent instrument