Whitbread Race Redux

Author:
Publish date:

Boats of yesteryear will once again race around the globe

The way they were: racers head out to the start line of the 1973 Whitbread race

The way they were: racers head out to the start line of the 1973 Whitbread race

Many sailors of a certain age look back fondly on the Whitbread round-the-world races of the 1970s and ‘80s as the pinnacle of ocean racing, the glorious Corinthian days preceding the Volvo Ocean Race era and its glossy multi-million-dollar campaigns. As if to prove the conjuring powers of nostalgia, there’s a new round-the-world race in the works, and it’ll be sailed in the same kinds of boats that created the Whitbread legend.

Starting from an as-yet-unspecified European port on September 10, 2023—the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Whitbread race start—the Ocean Globe race will replicate the original’s course, with just four stopovers.

Instead of the tortuous courses of the Volvo race, which evolved to meet the demands of high-dollar team sponsors, the route will follow the classic track around the world—from Europe to South Africa, South Africa to Australia or New Zealand, then to a South American port, and finally back to the starting point in Europe.

The boats too will remain true to the original zeitgeist of the first Whitbread, in which an eclectic mix of boats competed, most of the production boats crewed by hard-sailing amateurs as opposed to today’s highly paid pros.

Race founder Don McIntyre, who also came up with the Golden Globe singlehanded round-the-world race that finished earlier this year, intends to make this race as true to the spirit of the original as is possible in this age of foiling boats, instant communication and electronic navigation.

whitbread2mug

Entry is limited to fiberglass production boats designed prior to 1988. They will compete in two classes—Adventure, for boats from 47ft to 56ft, and Sayula, 56ft to 66ft (named after the Swan 65 that won the first Whitbread). A third class, Flyer, is open to actual race boats that competed in early Whitbreads and to “class surveyed” production sail training yachts up to 68ft.

The boats must not be modified from their original specifications, except to add bunks and storage and beef up standing rigging and deck gear. They’ll be allowed to carry only a limited wardrobe of Dacron and nylon sails—no laminates—and navigators will have to dust off their sextants and start collecting paper charts, as GPS is forbidden. Radar is allowed but may not have a GPS readout, and communications are restricted to SSB and VHF radios. Crews will also have to start foraging for cassette tapes, as iPods and their ilk are not allowed. However, a sealed locker in each boat will contain a satellite phone, AIS and a GPS-enabled chartplotter, and boats will also carry satellite tracking equipment.

McIntyre is limiting the entry to 30 boats and expects a minimum of 16 to start the race. He says a campaign could be put together for under $400,000, including purchasing a boat like an older Swan 55 (for example) and using crew labor to refit the boat—which could then be sold at the end of the race.

McIntyre expects to have a title sponsor and full list of stopover ports in place by the end of the year. In the meantime, if surfing Southern Ocean waves has always been on your bucket list, and you’re prepared to be without your smartphone for weeks on end, go to oceangloberace.com to find out how you can go about it.

September 2019

Related

DEI Panel - ICSA TIDE (Dec 10, 2020)

US Sailing Diversity Panel

On Thursday, December 10, at 7:30EST, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum is hosting a town hall-style conversation with the Intercollegiate Sailing Association's TIDE panel. TIDE (the Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity) committees have been founded in three regional branches of the ...read more

200807_RICKETSON_AUCKLAND_24-2048x

Point of SAIL: America’s Cup Flight Controller Andrew Campbell

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Andrew Campbell, the “flight controller” for the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic challenge in the 36th America’s Cup down in Auckland New Zealand. In their conversation, they discuss everything from ...read more

Vendee

VENDEÉ UPDATE: Macron Calls Le Cam, Escoffier

To activate English subtitles in the above video, click the button “CC After this week’s dramatic rescue, French President Emmanuel Macron called Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and Kevin Escoffier (PRB) to wish them well and congratulate them on their effort. Escoffier was slammed by ...read more

VG2048x

Vendeé Update: Escoffier Rescued in Southern Ocean

Around 1345 UTC on Monday afternoon, Vendee Globe competitor Kevin Escoffier (PRB) activated his EPIRB 840 miles southeast of The Cape of Good Hope, in the heart of the Southern Ocean amid some of the most violent water anywhere on Earth. Shortly after, he managed to get a ...read more

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