The other day, I had an interesting discussion with a friend about the unbelievable response to the launch of the Golden Globe Race. I was trying to quantify what had happened, or should I say what is happening. Suddenly, I realised for the first time I had tried to summarise it. I had always believed there would be interest in the race, but will leave the theory behind that for another day, because for whatever reason, the reality is stunning. It is a continuous line growing every day like I never imagined. Now I know that sailors are craving simplicity and real challenge in adventure sailing.
What makes all this so incredible is the contrast of sailors and their reasons for wanting to do this and the different objectives at all levels within the race. There is no ‘one solid trend’ in anything. The diversity is across the board. The Italians have the biggest contingent, but we are now represented in 14 different countries. Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the USA. That in itself has not been lost on potential sponsors for the event, another exciting prospect.
Our fleet of little ‘snails’ as the French contingent call them will be pushed hard, so we have a race for sure. It is a complete mix of sailors now involved and some are out to win at all cost, which is an irony considering the concepts. Yet diversity is colour by another word. Deep inside, I know these racers also long to enjoy the ride. Winning is just in their blood. Some have in the past received sponsorship millions that run into double digits for one race! Certainly there is a big money leveller that comes in to play with the Golden Globe Race. These now fully funded campaigns cannot give them a huge advantage as the rules are clear. Money may make it a little easier, but not win the race.
It is mostly men who are up for it, with only five women in for the challenge. Also in the running to collect the ‘First Lady Trophy’, recognising Australian Kay Cottee’s achievement as the first woman ever to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the Globe in 1988.
Experience varies from the most serious international competitors in the solo racing arena, to one of the fastest ever men to circumnavigate the globe on a fully crewed multihull. We have crack Class Mini sailors, multiple Vendee globe racers, sailors who have sailed 100,000 miles mostly solo, but never been in a race before! And yet another who has 300,000 miles on the water. At the other end, we have cruisers, club racers and some with just a few hundred miles!
A rally for old blokes? It is NOT. The average age is in the middle. We start at 16 and go all the way to the other side of 70, with a big group in their late 20s to mid 30s. Then it shoots to the 50s. The big question will be the yacht they choose. They are all thinking about this. Many have already decided. The personal reason for sailing will lead the final decision. I don’t want to give the game away, but I can say that at least three Tradewind 35s will line up, which is fun for me.
I smile when I hear the story from some who can’t do the race while inside they ponder. Some must have their sat phone, others fear they may die without AIS, and a few could not go without their iPod, scoffing at cassettes. While others could not get their partners onside! I do not have kids, but the only reason I could feel for were some in love with theirs! I can understand that is the way of the world. The thing that really impressed me is when a sailor loves his beautiful boat that will not meet the Golden Globe Race rule, so they are buying new ones, or are totally restructuring their lives as they have to, while others knew the instant they heard of the race that it was for them.
Have you have seen or ever met the Vendee Globe boats, or the Barcelona World Race boats in port and seen the skippers? It is all action, excitement and a real buzz. Truly amazing. It is the peak of the sport. They all look and feel similar, the boats and the skippers, just a few little differences which is understandable with these top world class athletes. Their personal stories sound familiar. They are the best of the best chasing each other.
Now for just a minute, imagine the last two weeks in Falmouth before the start of the Golden Globe Race on June 14 2018. Imagine the conversations, the atmosphere, the jokes and joy between the skippers young and old, the rich and poor with a colour of characters from all walks of life flowing from the Golden Globe Race marina. They chase their personal dream. Each is an individual. The back stories all different. The skippers are all different. Their reasoning is strong and their desire great, yet what do they seek?
This Golden Globe Race is like no other. It is all about dreams and life and there are now 46 sailors lined up, all hoping for a ticket after just five weeks!
If you are an interested entrant, check the website on the 1st of June for the latest information.