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Racing: Plywood Ships, Iron Sailors


First, there was the retro, solo Golden Globe Race 2018 (GGR)—a tribute event held in honor of the legendary 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and set to repeat in 2022.

Next came the fully-crewed Ocean Globe Race, celebrating “the spirit of the original 1973 Whitbread” and set to jump off in 2023.

Now, veteran sailor and adventurer Don McIntyre is launching something completely different—a solo, round-the-world event to be held aboard a new class of 19ft one-designs, known as Mini 5.80s.

Dubbed the Mini Globe Race 2024, the event will consist of six legs, starting in Europe and passing through the Panama Canal, with stops in such locales as the Canary Island, the Marquesas and Cape Town, South Africa. As for the boats, not only will they be constructed in plywood, but you can, according to McIntyre and design, Janusz Maderski, build them yourself with “simple tools and no previous experience.”

At press time, hulls #1 and #2 were under construction in Europe, with hull #1 earmarked for McIntyre’s own use. Plans for the boat, which can be either towed or shipped in a 20ft container, were scheduled to be released to the public sometime this month. According to McIntyre, the new boat is designed serve as a “simple, strong, safe and affordable oceangoing mini-racer, that anyone can build.” A 2021 transatlantic race is also in the works.

“We are surprised and excited at the level of interest and passion expressed for this little plywood Mini-Mini,” said McIntyre at the boat’s unveiling in March. “We have schools talking about building fleets, friends getting together to build two or three side by side and yacht clubs wanting to know more.”

For the record, we at SAIL can’t wait to (hopefully) see a fleet of these great little boat’s lining up to take a lap four years from now. As with the GGR, McIntyre just might be onto something with his latest take on affordable adventure sailing. For more on McIntyre’s plans, visit  

June 2020



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