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

pic00

Installing a Helm Pod

Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along ...read more

Panamerican

Pan American Game Success

Team USA’s young sailors went to the quadrennial Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru this summer with high hopes, and returned with a good haul of medals—two Golds, three Silvers, and two Bronze. Gold medals went to Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman (Mixed Snipe) and Riley ...read more

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Relieve the load  One of the ancient arts of the sailor is setting up a “stopper” to relieve a loaded rope without letting anything go. The classic use for a stopper is to take the weight off the genoa ...read more

05

Ask Sail: Water Getting into Coax

Q: While inspecting behind the nav station for my spring cleaning, I discovered water behind my chartplotter and VHF radio stack. Freshwater to boot! Do electronics leak? I didn’t think so. — Everette Gracy, Norton Shores, MI Gordan West Replies  Last winter your region was ...read more