This Dalton likes to go it alone
Published on March 2nd, 2021
Beyond his leadership of the Kiwi America’s Cup team, Grant Dalton accrued big chops in the offshore realm, racing around the world seven times, six of which were in the full crew Whitbread/Volvo race in which he earned two wins enroute to five top three finishes.
That’s a lot of shade for Grant to throw on his older brother, but Graham Dalton chose a different route to take. Ever since childhood, Graham was inspired by Sir Francis Chichester’s solo one-stop circumnavigation in Gipsy Moth IV back in 1966-67.
“Many of my friend’s parents had yachts and their boys would talk about Chichester’s adventure in the playground saying ’That’s what I’m going to do – sail around the world’. I knew they wouldn’t, but I made a commitment – and every day since, this has been my goal.”
And so he did, but the gritty 66-year old from Auckland struggled in his two previous attempts. In The Around Alone 2002-03, a four-stop solo circumnavigation, he was dismasted close to Cape Horn. In 2006-07, he completed the same race (now called The Velux 5 Oceans) but outside the time allowance. After needing a reset, Graham is ready again and has entered the 2022 Golden Globe Race.
This will be the second edition of the non-stop solo round the world race which requires the same type of yachts and equipment available a half century ago to limit the financial burden of every dreamer. But having lost a mast, suffered broken rudders, torn sails, four fractured ribs, and endured chronic food poisoning during previous attempts, entering the next GGR has not been straightforward.
“This time, I waited until I said to myself that I wanted to do this again three days in a row before making the commitment. It has taken some time to resolve.”
The decision was made only after a lot of soul searching and self-analysis. Graham is a determined, tenacious character with great self-belief – many of the attributes shared with his younger brother Grant. The big difference between the two is that while Grant is happy to court the media spotlight, Graham is not.
“I’d rather not have any publicity. I don’t need it because I won’t have a sponsor. It’s just a distraction that I can do without.”
But third time around, Graham has been asking questions – of himself and to others. One of these is about mental preparedness. A good American friend who had spent 23 years as a US Navy Seal advised, “The brave don’t live forever, but the cautious never live.”
He now has the inscription on his study wall at home, alongside the badly buckled titanium steering wheel from his last yacht smashed by a wave as a reminder of what can happen at sea.
Another mentor is Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the 73-year old French sailor who led the 2018 Golden Globe Race from the Cape of Good Hope all the way back to the finish. Graham has bought Van Den Heede’s Rustler 36 Matmut and hopes to benefit from the great knowledge and experience gained by the 6-time solo circumnavigator Jean-Luc.
When coronavirus travel restrictions allow, Graham plans to travel to France in May to complete the yacht’s fit-out and sailing trials before setting out into the Atlantic on a 2,000 mile qualification solo sail to sweep away any lingering doubts.
“I’ve got some ideas how to make Matmut even faster. I’ve no interest in simply sailing around the world again. It is the competitive aspect that really appeals. I’ve entered the GGR to win, and without distractions I think I can.”
Editor’s note: There were a couple hiccups when this story was first published. Sir Francis Chichester’s yacht was named Gipsy Moth IV, not Gypsy Moth IV, and there never was a 2003 Velux 5 Oceans. However, there was The Around Alone 2002 which Graham Dalton competed in. The above information has been corrected.
The inaugural Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.
The event marked the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.
A notable twist to the format was how entrants were restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.
The rules allowed for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do moved down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.
Those who breached the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.
For changes to the 2022-23 edition, click here.