The race to the Ocean Globe Race
Published on July 6th, 2023
Most would regard sailing 30,000 miles around the world via the three great capes, an epic, life-changing achievement in itself.
But the adventurers who’ve embraced the 2022-23 Ocean Globe Race are now acutely aware getting to the start line on September 10th is a challenge as daunting as the race itself. Thousands of hours of refits, training, qualifying passages and safety courses are being completed across the 14-strong fleet.
The race is in keeping with the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread, where ‘ordinary’ sailors competed with sextants and paper charts, but without phenomenal budgets, foils and super-high tech computers. A return to non-GPS days of real people, real adventures, and a real chance to witness what determination and grit can achieve.
Dominique Dubois, owner and skipper of Evrika FR (07), is displaying epic quantities of endurance to get his 1982 Swan 65 Ketch to the start line. His previous boat Futuro entered in the OGR but sustained damage earlier in the year when storm Gérard blew her off her cradle in the boat yard. But Dubois found and acquired Evrika and kept his dream alive of sailing around the world like it’s 1973.
“The biggest challenge is having to redo everything in just four months instead of two years,” said Dubois. “I’m racing to the race. Changing the boat from a British flag to a French flag was a nightmare. So much to do and plans keep changing every day.”
Mark Sinclair, aka ‘Captain Coconut’ of Golden Globe fame, is skipper of Explorer AU (28), a Nautor Swan 57 owned by OGR founder and Race Director Don McIntyre.
“We’ve been extremely busy, refitting lifelines, exhausts, installing new life rafts, examining all our sails,” noted Sinclair. “We installed, tested and carried out training with our defibrillator, fitted our hydrovane… There is a very, very long list.”
Another Australian entrant, Outlaw AU (08), a beautiful Baltic 55, was out of the water for over 10 years and needed a complete refit before crossing the Atlantic to come ‘home’.
“It was serendipitous to bring Outlaw back to Hamble in the UK,” said crew member and part-owner Lucy Frost. “Although already planned, we found out that in 1985 Equity & Law, as Outlaw was then known, prepared for the Whitbread based at Hamble Point and the crew stayed at the RAFYC (The Royal Air Force Yacht Club). We are again berthed at Hamble Point and I’m a member of the RAFYC.”
But getting the boat ready for the epic oceans is not enough. Teams need the right crew with enough passion, skill, grit and finances to make the cut, Lucy explained.
“The biggest challenge to finding a new crew is to find a sailor that also has the finances to invest in our project,” added Frost. “We are an owners’ collective, each owning one share per leg of the race and have bought and refitted the boat and are now preparing for the race.
“When the race is finished, we plan to sell Outlaw, hopefully to a team who wants to do the next OGR, and we’ll split any profits accordingly. I reckon it will be a wrench to sell her though.”
Stylish Swan 51 Godspeed USA (01) is expecting huge crowds for their send-off from Portsmouth Pier on the USA East coast on July 12th. Skeleton Crew Sailing, a non-profit founded in 2016 by US Navy veteran Taylor Grieger, provides adventure therapy to military service members and veterans through sailing expeditions. They assembled a crew with representatives from all US military services and First Responders.
“Why are we doing the OGR? There’s not an American boat in the race and we think there should be,” explained Grieger. “We feel it’s a good platform for talking about what we are doing for veteran suicide and how Adventure Therapy works to prevent suicide and help heal both physical and invisible wounds.”
Godspeed team manager Bartholomew J. Timm believes the OGR is the perfect fit to support their mission.
“In a race like this, the keys are endurance and survival,” noted Timm. “You need to endure the storms and all they bring in order to survive. Sailing shows there is a way through, you outlast the storms. The parallels to those dealing with PTSD are stark. It’s what they do every day.”
The 2023-24 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 Southampton (UK) on September 10, the OGR is a 27,000-mile sprint around the Globe, divided into four legs that passes south of the three great Capes. The fleet is divided in three classes with stop-overs in Cape Town, South Africa; Auckland, New Zealand; and Punta del Este, Uruguay before returning to Southhampton in April 2024.