Nearing capacity for Ocean Globe Race
Published on April 19th, 2022
The 2023 Ocean Globe Race (OGR), launched in 2019, is entering its final phase of development, pushed along with pure passion and commitment from its 23 paid up entrants. This crewed race around the world, with sextants and paper charts in the spirit of the original 1973 Whitbread Race, continues to work toward the September 2023 start in Europe.
The Ocean Globe Race has an entry limit of 30 teams and is open to ‘approved’ ocean voyaging monohulled GRP production yachts from 47ft to 66ft LOA, designed before 1988 with first of type launched no later than 1988 (Flyer Class exceptions to 68ft).
Among the final developments is the cancellation of the “Classic Challenge”, originally announced six months after the OGR was launched. This Class was added to the three Retro Classes due to strong lobbying from Whitbread 60, Volvo 60, and Maxi-Yacht owners wanting to enter. In the first six months, eight expressions of interest were received, but two years later no entry deposits had been received.
“We did not want this Class to just fade away and we were worried about getting just two or three entries six months before the start, which would never work, so we set a deadline,” said OGR Race founder Don McIntyre. “We needed four entries by the end of January 2022. In the end we did receive an interesting proposal of four entries, but they were all from one company and it did not feel right.”
Discussions with potential Start/Finish ports and stop-overs have been challenging due to COVID pressures, in addition to other around the world races happening at the same time. “We had hoped to announce the final course a year ago, but negotiations are only now being finalized,” said Don McIntyre. “UK ports in particular simply have no budget post-COVID, nor enthusiasm for an event like the OGR, so it will be an EU start.”
The fleet is divided into the Adventure Class (47ft-56ft), Sayula Class (56.1ft- 66ft), and Flyer Class which is for yachts previously entered in the 1973, 1977, or 1981 Whitbread Round the World Race, or of ‘relevant’ historic significance and ‘approved’ production-built, ocean-certified, sail-training yachts generally 55ft to 68ft LOA.
Neptune, a 60ft French entry from the 1977 Whitbread joins the OGR bringing the French entries to seven. She recently completed her trans-Atlantic crossing from Martinique to Brittany, joining other iconic Whitbread yachts in the popular Flyer Class.
Tan Raffray saw the opportunity of a lifelong dream to race around the world, building a project around the excellent crew of his 8M JI Hispania, alongside Daniel Gilles, original 1977 crew member and official Éric Tabarly biographer.
In 1973, French sailors and journalists Bernard Deguy and Bernard Rubinstein had sailed the original Whitbread with Eric Tabarly on Pen-Duick VI. Deguy then commissioned the 60-foot aluminum Neptune to the same architect, finishing 8th in 1978 and bringing a unique insight into the race through Deguy, Gilles, and Rubinstein’s on-board interviews, articles, and journals.
In February 2022, Raffray and his crew took Neptune out of her Caribbean semi-retirement, back across the Atlantic where the 60-foot aluminum sloop will enter refit in Morbihan, Brittany.
Raffray’s project is equally competitive and poetic: “We will bring to the open sea the values of the 8-metre FRA7 crew, those of friendship, solidarity, complementary and the transmission of knowledge. We are all already inhabited by the project, carried by a boat designed by André Mauric, and whose name is that of the God of the Sea. Neptune took our souls!”
Neptune is one of the six Whitbread entries in the Flyer class, with Marie Tabarly’s Pen-Duick VI returning for the win; Lionel Reigner’s L’Esprit d’Équipe, winner of the 81’ Whitbread; the Joubert designed Mor Bihan who made history winning a leg in the 81 Whitbread with Philippe Poupon and Halvard Mabire on board; and Clare Francis’ former Swan 65, now Translated9.
Meanwhile OGR entrant Tracy Edward, Whitbread’s most famous lady skipper, has retired from the race. With the revised world sailing Tour of her 58-foot Farr design delayed for over a year due to COVID, this new sailing schedule makes it impossible to prepare in time for the 2023 OGR.
Entries remain open to August 1, 2022.
The Ocean Globe Race (OGR) is a fully crewed, retro race, in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race, marking the 50th Anniversary of the original event. Starting in Europe in September 2023, the OGR is a 27,000-mile sprint around the Globe, divided into four legs, taking in the Southern Ocean and the three great Capes. The fleet is divided in three classes and two discretionary invitations for a total of 30 entries, making the OGR possibly the biggest fully crewed round the world race of the last 29 years. Stop-overs will include South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, and South America, before finishing back in Europe in April 2024.