Waterlines: 2018 Golden Globe Race

Author:
Updated:
Original:
Robin Knox-Johnston and Suhaili at the finish of the first Golden Globe race. Photo courtesy of Bill Rowntree/PPL

Robin Knox-Johnston and Suhaili at the finish of the first Golden Globe race. Photo courtesy of Bill Rowntree/PPL

Will there ever be another ocean race as dramatic and compelling as the 1968-69 Golden Globe? It’s hard to imagine. This legendary competition, the first to lead solo sailors on a nonstop course around the world, was so imbued with pathos that it has inspired interest among both sailors and the general public for nearly 50 years now. It seems the steady stream of books, films and even stage plays on the subject will never cease.

The Shakespearian sweep of the race was, of course, most acutely embodied in Donald Crowhurst, the madly ambitious electrical engineer who faked his voyage by sending in false position reports and then stepped off his boat to his death when he realized his deception would be revealed. Soon we will be treated to yet another creative take on this terrible tragedy in an upcoming major motion picture (still untitled as we go to press) that has the Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth slated to play the role of Crowhurst.

Unfortunately, the greatest tragedies often beget additional tragedy, and most have long assumed it was Crowhurst’s deception that also led to the apparent suicide of another competitor, Nigel Tetley, just two years after the race. Tetley drove his own boat so hard racing against Crowhurst it broke up near the finish and cost him his chance of victory, so he did have good reason to feel disappointed. But he was found hanging from a tree dressed in women’s underwear, and his death most likely was the accidental result of what one pathologist described as “a masochistic sexual exercise.” Which, let’s face it, is hardly a mundane plot point.

The most inspirational Golden Globe competitor, tellingly, was the charismatic Frenchman Bernard Moitessier, who might have won the race, but blew it off and kept sailing around the world again. It was an act of Gallic bravado that in the minds of many ultimately eclipsed the achievement of the race winner, Robin Knox-Johnston, who in the end was the only competitor to complete the course.

With the golden anniversary of the race now plainly visible on the horizon, it is hardly surprising that a commemorative event, the 2018 Golden Globe Race, is in the works. This is being organized by an ex-BOC racer, Don McIntrye, and is set to start off from Falmouth, England, on June 14 of next year, exactly 50 years after Knox-Johnston set out from that same port on his great circumnavigation.

McIntyre is intent on capturing the low-tech Corinthian spirit of the original in his event, so he has strictly limited both the technology and types of boats that are permitted. In fact, the strictures on competing vessels—they must be full-keel fiberglass boats with attached rudders, between 32ft and 36ft long, designed before 1988—are so severe that exactly none of the boats that sailed in the original event would qualify. Most of the technology restrictions, meanwhile, do make sense in terms of limiting costs, but some seem gratuitous or even mean-spirited. For example, no digital entertainment devices or digital cameras can be carried onboard.

What is heartening is that this race, like the original, has inspired great interest. The list of provisional entrants is already fully subscribed with a great mix of sailors from all over the world, including Jean-Luc van den Heede, who has finished on the podium in both the old BOC Race and the Vendée Globe. There is also a long waiting list of auxiliary entrants anxious to take the place of any who drop out before the start.

I am certainly not hoping that this race turns out to be as dramatic as the first one. But in a world where an aspiring Moitessier or Knox-Johnston must be capable of raising millions of dollars to compete in events like the Vendée Globe, I am hoping it proves a great success. McIntyre is already making noises about running a follow-up event in 2022, and I think it would be a great thing if amateur sailors who dream of racing around the world once again had a reasonable chance to make those dreams come true.

SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane, sails his Tanton 39 on the Maine coast and down in the West Indies whenever he gets the chance. He is the author of The Modern Cruising Sailboat, published by International Marine, and is a contributing blogger at SAILfeed.com

March 2016

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more