Longest, loneliest, slowest race
Published on March 23rd, 2021
Perhaps the greatest threat to the sport of sailing is the ever-rising commitment to excel. Nearly every sport feels this pressure, but few amateur sports are so muddled with professional influences as sailing.
With fewer people finding the cost to be worth the reward, the Golden Globe Race was conceived to reset the landscape to a simpler time. Modeled after the 1968 Golden Globe, which was the first ever around the world yacht race, the 2018 edition was nearly the same, just 50 years later.
This was a repeat journey into the unknown, and while the world had changed, the world had never seen anything like it. Eighteen sailors set sail not knowing what to expect as they set forth with vintage boats and archaic navigation tools.
While yachts were lost, stories were told and sailors everywhere were inspired. Some of the best sailors on the planet had lined up at the start for that races, but dreamers did too just as they had in 1968.
Ten months after the start, Tapio Lehtinen the last of only five sailors to complete the journey, crossed the finish line creating history once again. Jean Luc Van Den Heede, one of the great sailors of our time, won the 2018 Golden Globe. He was 73 years old and has been a beautiful dreamer his entire life!
Like all entrants, his voyage was filled with drama and courage in the face of real adversity. It was tough! Very tough. He was at sea for 212 days, totally alone, the equivalent of three Vendee Globes. His final VDH journal has and continues to inspire a new generation of sailors, as did his previous five solo circumnavigations of the Globe.
With the next edition preparing for 2022, the GGR is unique and has established once again the core principles of that first in 1968 edition.
Open to sailors young and old, it is affordable in 32-36 foot strong, recycled, seaworthy yet simple yachts. There is no technology, No satellite comms or GPS, no autopilots and only cassette tapes for music. The GGR is the only solo race around the world with absolutely no outside assistance of any kind.
The GGR is not a flying 10-week sprint around the Globe. It is a grueling, demanding, and daring marathon. You could fly to Mars quicker than completing the GGR! Entrants spend more time in the southern oceans than most current races take to circumnavigate.
There are no Skype calls home to family for psychological support, or engineers for advice. The GGR is total isolation on a grand scale. It steps back to a simpler time, where the sailor relies entirely on themselves for their own destiny.
This challenge is not for everyone. It’s serious. Only the best will finish. Question? Is it the toughest solo non-stop race around the world? Who cares? However, it is seriously tough with no comparisons.
Yet it is a beautiful and simple challenge. It takes a special sailor to even consider it possible. With 28 entrants from 11 countries for the next edition to start in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, those that finish in 2023 will again make history.
“As organizers we learnt a lot from the last edition of the GGR,” said Don McIntyre, GGR Founder and race Chairman. “There have been changes and one of the biggest is a new start date two months later than 2018, placing the fleet more favorably in the Southern Ocean. Safety and security standards remain high and sailing qualifications have been increased. The best is overall media coverage will be substantially upgraded.”
Some of the changes include:
• A new 2-hour time penalty for every liter of fuel consumed during the race will be added to finishing times. This encourages all entrants to focus on solar, Wind and water power generation.
• For the first time, expanded media access to GGR skippers with entrants receiving two direct satellite phone interviews from any media outlet, every week while racing. The possibility of sending satellite photos from entrants to Race Control is being investigated. A third Video film drop for live interviews is also scheduled for Cape Town, South Africa before sailors’ head into the southern oceans and a fourth may be established after rounding Cape Horn.
• A planned comprehensive Media Production and Global TV distribution plan will send the GGR story to millions of families around the world.
On July the 1st 2018, crowds that gathered on France’s famous Les Sables River cheering the GGR sailors witnessed something special. But they could never have imagined what lay ahead. The Golden Globe is personal, even romantic and centered on the sailor. Nothing else matters.
It is seriously a human story, not the boat, not technology and not the money that creates the winner and it’s all about the stories.
On Sept 4th next year once again, these special sailors will set out on an adventure unique to this planet. They are all volunteers in what is now recognized as the longest, loneliest, slowest race and most daring challenge for any individual in any sport.
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.
Source: GGR, Scuttlebutt