Considering the future for Cole Brauer

Published on March 11th, 2024

Marco Nannini, organizer of the 2023-24 Global Solo Challenge, reflects on the future following the second-place finish of American Cole Brauer, and her intention to pursue the highest mountain in solo offshore sailing – the Vendée Globe:

The Global Solo Challenge created a format and only gave a stage and opportunity for participants to achieve their goals and dreams, and in Cole’s case, to show what she was made of, and she didn’t just take, the opportunity, she totally owned it.

In a matter of hours American media was on fire: ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, New York Daily News, New York Post, Fox News and many more, together with local press and all the sailing related websites in Europe and around the world, immediately covered the story.

It was just the moment where all of Cole’s efforts were coming together, and we believe this is just the beginning for her, particularly as she has already announced her intention to start campaigning for the 2028 Vendée Globe.

Success in offshore solo sailing, at the pro elite level, requires a variety of skills combined and I strongly believe Cole ticks all the boxes to allow her to take the giant leap from a Global Solo Challenge to a Vendée Globe.

However, the scale of a Vendée Globe campaign compared to a Global Solo Challenge stands at the very least at a ratio of 10 to 1 in terms of complexity, financial commitment, skill level of the pro elite sailors and competence of the shore team that accompany the skipper during a campaign.

During the Global Solo Challenge 2023, Cole Brauer Ocean Racing was undoubtedly the best prepared and funded project of all the entries in the event. Unlike other participants, she was the only one to have a full shore team, not just a few friends and helpers.

I don’t know the exact number but I think around 25 people were involved in one capacity or another, directly employed or contracted to the project. This was great to see as very often those trying to step up from non-pro circuits to the pro elite do not quite comprehend the many orders of magnitude you have to scale your operations by.

For this circumnavigation, Cole managed to put together a very solid team with some very young talented professionals that grew together with the project and therefore very justly should feel proud and celebrate this as a collective achievement.

I often chatted with Cole via WhatsApp during her circumnavigation and expressed my sincerest appreciation for all the work she did and how well prepared she had come and I am sure she’s only happy that I mention her shore team for their tremendous commitment to the project.

I also mentioned to her how I believe this challenge will lead her to face a whole new level of milestones to achieve to break through into the elite pro league. A Vendée Globe campaign is a different game and cannot be built on dedication and enthusiasm and it will be key for her to attack the learning curve to step up the IMOCA world as soon as possible and make sure she immediately seeks to add to her team the people she needs to learn from the best and avoid the pitfalls of trial and error.

During her Global Solo Challenge campaign, it was okay to have some members of the team that did not have outright experience of navigation in the roaring forties for example, but the next step will require getting things done right, or fail. Failure in a Vendée Globe campaign is a very costly exercise as she will be looking at a 10-to-20-fold increase in budget for a 4-year campaign.

She may also have to deal with a culture shock moving from the camaraderie of a non-professional event to the pro circuit. Back in my day of navigating, being only an amateur playing in the bigger field, I found it quite overwhelming to deal with some of the bigger events and that’s where a shore team with specific experience in the circuit comes into play to make the transition as smooth as possible to reach pro level.

Offshore solo sailing is still French dominated and it is often easy to forget how much knowledge, experience, and infrastructure exists in France where the Global Solo Challenge has recently been amicably referred to as the Petit Vendée Globe for amateurs.

Given what the Vendée Globe represents in the sport, we take it as the biggest compliment French media could have paid to us, I really feel very grateful for the positive welcome that the event had in the French press. Which was by no means to be taken for granted.

There may even be a culture shock in being suddenly thrown into a French pro world as I can’t see the personalities of hardcore Bretons/French sailors and the bigger-than-life American style immediately integrating smoothly.

An ideal scenario would be for Cole to fall under the wings of someone like Alex Thomson who is behind the campaigns of Clarisse Cremer and Scott Shawyer. Alternatively, she could seed the mentorship of Sam Davies, Dee Caffari, or other equally experienced sailors.

We really hope that the Global Solo Challenge will have proven to be just a stepping stone for Cole and that she will keep her smile, strength, positivity and energy when the learning curve will suddenly feel like her new Everest.

As we said many times, the mental factor is always the most important and we are sure Cole will have no difficulty making sense of a future which at present might feel like a giant puzzle. Fair winds Cole, we wish you every success and you will forgive us if in future we’ll go around bragging about having had the pleasure to meet you.

Race detailsEntry listStart timesTracking

Attrition List:
DNS: Peter Bourke – Class40, Imagine
DNS: Ivan Dimov – Endur37, Blue Ibis
DNS: Curt Morlock – IMOCA, 6 Lazy K
DNS: Volkan Kaan Yemlihaoğlu – Open 70, Black Betty

RTD: Juan Merediz – Class40, Sorolla
RTD: Dafydd Hughes – S&S 34, Bendigedig
RTD: Ari Känsäkoski – Class40, ZEROchallenge
RTD: Ronnie Simpson – Open 50, Shipyard Brewing
RTD: Édouard De Keyser – Solaire 34, SolarWind
RTD: Pavlin Nadvorni – Farr 45, Espresso Martini
RTD: William MacBrien  – Class40, Phoenix
RTD: Kevin Le Poidevin – Open 40, Roaring Forty
RTD: Alessandro Tosetti – ULDB 65, Aspra

The inaugural Global Solo Challenge 2023-24 seeks to be a budget-friendly solo, non-stop race around the world. Using a pursuit format for the 2023-24 race, 20 entrants from 34 to 70 feet have start times between August 26 to January 6 from A Coruña, Spain, with the first boat to return deemed the winner.


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