Countdown to Ocean Globe Race

Published on August 31st, 2023

There’s been ribbon-cutting, cannon fire, astro navigation demonstrations, medical training, safety inspections, and a Pimms or two on the pontoons. With the 14 iconic yachts taking part in the 2023-24 Ocean Globe Race (OGR) docked in Southampton, England, there’s never a dull moment with the 218 crews frantically preparing to sail around the world.

Activities kicked off with Lord Mayor Cllr Valerie Laurent, opening MDL Race Village, a symbolic moment for skippers and crew who’ve worked for years to get to the start line of the OGR. But they’re not there yet! There’s still much to be done before the international fleet, representing sailors from 23 countries, depart on their eight-month adventure.

This fully-crewed retro race in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race, marks the 50th anniversary of the original event. At 13:00 hr September 10, the yachts will set sail from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line, Cowes, UK, to circumnavigate the globe, using no computers, satellites or GPS navigation aids or high-tech materials and use Cassette tapes for music. For eight months, they’ll take on the world’s toughest oceans powered only by humans, all in the name of adventure, sailing like it’s 1973.

Ensuring the yachts are up to the momentous challenge of the three great Capes, Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s notorious Cape Horn means inspecting every lifejacket, counting fire extinguishers, opening grab bags and testing navigation lights, and that’s the easy bit.

Every yacht is subject to a forensically detailed safety inspection, which must be passed before receiving the coveted ‘Green Card’ required to take part in the race.

Assistant Race Director, Lutz Kohne has been busy coordinating the mammoth task. “We are halfway through the safety inspections and see all kinds of things. Some boats surpass the high safety equipment requirements, others have quite a substantial to-do list remaining. However, the overall feedback from our inspectors is that I would sail with them in the Southern Ocean,” said Lutz.

Providing adventure therapy for military service members suffering from PTSD is Skeleton Crew’s mission. “Inspections are notoriously painful in the service and sometimes you try to curry favor with your inspector by leaving out some ‘inspiration’ to help make the inspection go a little easier, and sometimes the kindness is returned with a passing mark.

“Unfortunately, I think our inspectors today might be teetotalers, so we’re out of luck,” said Colm Walker, Skeleton Crew member. We can confirm, no rum was consumed, during the inspection at least.

But it’s not only the boats that need to be taken care of. As required by the Notice of Race, every boat must have two medically trained crew, who also must attend additional specialized training provided by Dr Spike Briggs of MSOS (Medical Support Offshore).

“I was asked to take charge of the workshop dedicated to intravascular cannulation, intravascular and intramuscular injections. It was funny because it’s been a few years since I had taught students, but I was satisfied to see that everyone was skillful.” said former anaesthetist Patrick Bodiou, the doctor onboard Australian entrant Explorer AU (28), who took part in the medical briefings.

And while cleaning winches, fixing sails and provisioning continue apace, there is still time to socialize. “We are the biggest boat and docked in the middle of the fleet, so Pen Duick VI is the place to be. I like when people come and visit the boat, they are always very curious, and they are free to come and spend time onboard,” said Marie Tabarly, skipper of Pen Duick VI FR (14).

The well-known yacht is one of seven former Whitbread boats taking part in the race. She’s the flagship of the association The Elemen’Terre Project, whose goal is to raise public awareness of the major environmental and societal issues of our time.

Pen Duick VI FR (14) is one of seven former Whitbread boats taking part in the race. While some of the yachts entered MDL Ocean Village Marina to the sounds of Guns ’n’ Roses’, Tapio Lehtinen, skipper of Galiana WithSecure FI (06) went down the more traditional route, with cannon fire. As the last yacht of the 14 yachts to arrive, Galiana WithSecure was greeted with whoops and cheers from fellow crews relieved to see the stunning Swan 55.

Galiana WithSecure was dismasted during the Fastnet Race and Tapio and crew have been working around the clock to get a new mast installed in time for the race. It was Pimms on the dock to celebrate their achievement.

Event informationRace rulesEntry list

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.

Source: OGR

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