The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Author:
Publish date:
 Randall Reeves aboard Moli in more “moderate” conditions in the Southern Ocean   

 Randall Reeves aboard Moli in more “moderate” conditions in the Southern Ocean   

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in production fiberglass boats, none longer than 36 feet, to race around the world without stopping. Meanwhile, another event, Longue Route 2018, is sending out another 26 amateur solo skippers, most in boats 43 feet and under, to also sail nonstop around the world. The latter is not a race, but more a “challenge in company.” Participants may start from and return to any Atlantic port in Europe or North America (north of 45 and 41 degrees north latitude, respectively) at any time between June 18 and September 30.

So the Southern Ocean will be unusually crowded this year. Potentially there will be 45 amateur singlehanders, all of them in relatively modest non-specialized boats, banging around Antarctica together in high southern latitudes. It is, in the annals of sailing, entirely unprecedented.

One question I’ve been asking myself: is it harder to do this now than it was before? The answer, not surprisingly, is yes. Average surface wind speeds and wave heights in the Southern Ocean have steadily increased since the 1960s and particularly so in the last 20 years. Significantly, the biggest spikes are seen in extreme peak conditions, and the “hottest” spot in the course is the stretch between Cape Town and Australia.

The simple anecdotal evidence bears this out. The 1968-69 Southern Ocean summer season during the first Golden Globe was, relatively speaking, mild. Bernard Moitessier, in particular, had it pretty easy at first in the Indian Ocean and this helped him achieve the transcendent state that led him to abandon the race after rounding Cape Horn and sail around again to Tahiti. Of the three competitors who made it into the Southern Ocean—Moitessier, Robin Knox-Johnston and Nigel Tetley—none were knocked out there.

This past season’s crop of Southern Ocean amateurs, by comparison, has had a rough ride. Guirec Soudée and his famous chicken Monique on their steel cutter Yvinec got rolled hard between Cape Horn and Cape Town. The indomitable Michael Thurston, sailing with two crew on his 48ft ketch, Drina, was knocked down twice in the southern Indian Ocean, with the boat’s steering pedestal sheared off the second time. While setting a record for circling Antarctica south of 60 degrees, the Polish crew on the Oyster 72 Katharsis II had their boom shattered southwest of Australia. And our own SAILfeed contributor, singlehander Randall Reeves, attempting his Figure 8 circumnavigation of the Americas and Antarctica, was knocked down and crushed by a wave in the southern Indian Ocean. This blew out a doghouse window on his 45ft aluminum cutter Moli, wiped out most of his electronics and bent a solid aluminum cockpit rail down on top of a primary winch.

Randall, before heading home from Tasmania to California to try again next year, told me in an e-mail that he had seriously underestimated the power of the Southern Ocean and hadn’t yet mustered the courage to take photos during peak conditions.

“I’m too scared, and it feels like bad luck,” he wrote, “like Actaeon, who spied the goddess Diana bathing, and she sicced his own hounds on him. I don’t want to tempt fate any more than I am already.”

Even the pro sailors in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race fleet have not escaped the deep south unscathed. Vestas 11th Hour Racing was dismasted southeast of the Falkland Islands in March, and Team Sun Hung Kai/Skallywag tragically lost crewmember, John Fisher, overboard 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn.

I can tell you one thing for sure: all the folks in these two Golden Globe tribute events will catch hell out there, and many or most them will not finish the course. I will be a little surprised if they all come out alive. Which is not an argument for calling the whole thing off, but it is an argument for paying both these events the attention they deserve. I, for one, will be following them closely at longueroute2018.com and goldengloberace.com

July 2018

Related

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more