The Golden Globe Race 2018

 April 1969: Robin Knox-Johnston waving aboard his 32ft yacht SUHAILI off Falmouth, England after becoming the first person to sail solo non-stop around the globe.

April 1969: Robin Knox-Johnston waving aboard his 32-ft yacht SUHAILI off Falmouth, England after becoming the first person to sail solo non-stop around the globe.

In 1968, nine brave adventurers set off from ports in Britain to compete in the toughest yacht race yet devised, the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, sailing singlehanded around the world, non-stop, south of the Three Great Capes, and home to their port of departure.

The original race was won by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became (and remains) one of the all-time legends of ocean racing, sailing his 32-ft teak-built double-ender Suhaili.

A Voyage For Madmen

Knox-Johnston was the only one of the race entrants to complete the course. Another entrant who would go on to become one of the great names in the annals of cruising was the legendary French sailor Bernard Moitessier, but he dropped out of the race to ‘save his soul’. And one individual would enter the history books for altogether more tragic reasons: Briton Donald Crowhurst, who apparently took his own life at sea after faking much of his journey.

It was a race of attrition, to say the very least. Some commentators at the time considered that in the aftermath of such a debacle, no further races of this kind would ever be run again. But, as we all now know, that’s far from the case.

The Race Is Back

GG Logo

And now the race is back. Starting on the 14th of June 2018, up to 30 sailors will compete in a new ‘retro’ Golden Globe Race to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original event. Organised by veteran Australian sailor and adventurer Don MacIntyre, and run under the auspices of the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club, the ‘new’ Race will share most features of the original.

All of the entrants will be sailing the type of boats that were available to the 1968 sailors: long-keeled, heavy displacement yachts of up to 36-ft LOA. No modern navigation systems will be allowed, so no GPS, just sextants and tables. Basically, apart from modern foul weather gear and safety equipment, if it wasn’t on Suhaili, you can’t have it aboard.

This will be a race that aims to hold true to the Corinthian spirit of the original event, of ‘one sailor, one boat facing the great oceans of the world’. And, as if to repudiate the verdict on the original race as ‘A Voyage for Madmen’, 26 skippers (25 men and one woman) have already signed up for the start, and the waiting list is full.

The organisers and entrants of the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

The organisers and entrants of the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

The entrants are a diverse crowd with a decidedly multinational flavour. Some are ocean-racing veterans, such as Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (10 times around Cape Horn!) and Éric Loizeau, some are young people new to the game, and others are of middle age determined to live life to the full through this extraordinary adventure.

And having just met many of them at the launch of the Race at London’s Little Ship Club, I can tell you that they’re a fine, enthusiastic and determined bunch of people.

The new Golden Globe Race will start and finish from my homeport of Falmouth in Cornwall—as, in my view, it should. Falmouth is the home of classic boats in Britain and has an excellent track record of hosting such events, so it was good to see that a representative of the port had come up from Falmouth to tell the competitors about the welcome that awaits them.

Falmouth cheered Sir Robin home in 1968 and he remains a hero to local people still. I’m sure the town will pull out all the stops to afford the same support to all of the entrants in this event. This is our kind of race, and these are our kind of people.

Team Blue Challenge

Colin's Attendance Badge

Colin’s attendance badge.

Well and good, you might say, but what has that got to do with us, the readers of Attainable Adventure Cruising? Well, we’re inviting you to take part, too.

Entrant Fabrizio Ladi Bucciolini is one of the bold skippers, and he has appointed me as Team Manager for his Team Blue Challenge entry.

Between now and the finish of the race, I shall be sharing with you all of the decision-making that we face as we buy, re-build and prepare our entry for this toughest of races. And we want to hear your ideas and comments as we go along, on such subjects as sails, tactics, food and a thousand other things that will matter an awful lot in the Southern Ocean.

PPL PHOTO AGENCY - COPYRIGHT RESTRICTED - for editorial use only PHOTO CREDIT: PPL MEDIA TEL: +44 (0) 7768 395719 E-mail: Web: ***Fabrizio Bucclolini (Switzerland), a competitor in the 2018 Golden Globe singlehanded round the world yacht race

Fabrizio Bucciolini (Switzerland), a competitor in the 2018 Golden Globe.

And our entry is, of course, about attainable adventure. The boat we have selected is nearly 30 years old, and will need to undergo the kind of extensive re-fit that one of you might have to carry out with a similar boat for a round-the-world voyage, even if yours might not be in the high latitudes.

This will be a real learning experience for us all. And we’ll be sharing with you our highs and lows from now through to the completion of the Race.

2018 Golden Globe solo round the world course race starting from Falmouth UK on 14th June 2018

2018 Golden Globe course starting from Falmouth UK on 14th June 2018.

And There’s More…

This isn’t a race about colossal budgets and massive PR campaigns, but it will undoubtedly attract huge interest in a world that is becoming bored with excess and technological overkill. As Sir Robin expressed in a video message to the competitors in the new race, “This is real adventure”. It is about raw courage, simple machines, and the enduring human spirit that drove the original entrants. And part of that spirit was undoubtedly a simple love of the ocean.

Fabrizio and I have much in common. We both grew up by the sea, messing around in boats from a very young age, and saltwater courses through our veins. We both love the ocean and its wild inhabitants, and we share a sense of shame and loss when we look at what has been done to them by humans in the last (nearly) 50 years since the original race was run.

Overfishing, plastic pollution, the drive towards the extinction of many of the oceans’ top predators such as sharks and whales, all of those things concern us, and probably concern you, too. Sadly, we cannot simply re-wind the clock and undo the depredations that have taken place in the oceans since 1968. But we can help to start the re-building process of our fragile ocean ecosystems by supporting marine conservation projects close to our hearts.

Fabrizio is determined that Team Blue Challenge will raise ten million dollars (US) for marine conservation over the next five years, and one of my jobs will be to help him achieve that goal.

We are already building our backroom team, who will contribute in so many vital ways to the boat and the project. We’ll be introducing them to you in the future, and sharing their insights in my regular posts on the Race. We hope you’ll actively participate at all times (as indeed you always do), and help us to achieve a safe and successful outcome for Fabrizio and Team Blue Challenge for the Golden Globe Race, and also for our parallel race to create a better future for the world’s oceans.

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Unless otherwise marked, all images are: PPL PHOTO AGENCY – COPYRIGHT RESTRICTED – for editorial use only. PHOTO CREDIT: PPL MEDIA, TEL: +44 (0) 7768 395719 E-mail: Web:

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Meet the Author


Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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29 comments … add one
  • Stein Varjord Dec 17, 2015, 9:19 am

    I was only eight when the original race happened, but I was completely in love with it. Reading everything I could find. It caught huge attention everywhere it seemed, but compared to now, the available info was almost nothing and finding what existed was hard, especially for a kid. That made the whole thing into a mystery and triggered my imagination. I dreamt about sailing far. It definitely shaped my life.

    Robin Knox Johnston is definitely a hero, but Bernard Moitessier was my hero and still an inspiration. Knowing that he could just sail to the finish line and certainly win this huge thing, and then just decide to not do it and go on another half time around the world, “to finish his thoughts”, was just beyond cool.

    I think several of the competitors in the original race were quite poorly prepared and not necessarily very competent at the start. I think all the 2018 competitors will be very well prepared and competent. Thus, I think a much higher percentage will finish. The tech of 50 years ago was easily capable of making safe boats, but way less comfortable and demanding much more work. I look forward to following this.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 10:53 am

      Hi Stein
      I was twelve at the time, and it was a big deal for me, too. The books written by the likes of Sir Robin and Bernard Moitessier were, and still are, required reading – talk about the Yin and Yang of sailing!

      And we’re not alone in regarding those days as embodying so much that’s great about the pastime we love. This new race is already full, and I’ve just learned that another 150 people applied for entries. It certainly seems to have struck a chord, I suspect for all of the reasons I outlined above.

      The new entrants seems to me to be a really good bunch, and I agree that all things being equal they will be far better prepared than most of the previous entrants. But look at that course – they’re going to need to be. It was no picnic in 1968, and nothing has changed in that regard.

      Best wishes


  • Dick Stevenson Dec 17, 2015, 9:30 am

    Hi Colin,
    Finally, a sailboat race/challenge that will be fun to follow. I look forward to the reports.
    Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 10:57 am

      Hi Dick

      I think it will be fun to follow, because it has returned a race of this type to the human scale that strikes such a deep chord.

      Nothing against the Vendee Globe, BOC etc., but they are so far from most people’s reality that it is difficult to become enthusiastic about them – in my view.

      And we’ll look forward to your wisdom!

      Best wishes


      • Roger Harris Dec 17, 2015, 7:23 pm

        Finally, a race that doesn’t allow competitors to rely on crutches (GNSS, ‘weather routing’, etc.) … and excludes ugly IMOCA boats!

        “Nothing against the Vendee Globe, BOC etc., but they are so far from most people’s reality that it is difficult to become enthusiastic about them.” Far too commercialized to be of any interest: sadly, they’re all about sponsorship rather than seamanship.

      • Stein Varjord Dec 17, 2015, 10:43 pm

        Hi Roger.

        As mentioned above, I look forward to following this race and I love the return to simplicity. Still my roots are in high tech racers, mostly multihulls, so I get that you’re teasing, but my smile is a bit forced. 🙂

        I think the IMOCAs and sisters in other extreme classes are beautiful. They’re most certainly way more hard work than any of the classic designs, so the “crutches” are there to make it possible to sail very much faster, not because the sailors of these boats are not capable.

        The sailors of the old days are worthy heroes, but if the present day sailing stars were put in the same classic boats and races, the old heroes wouldn’t stand a chance. The knowledge, physical strength, ability to tolerate heavy strain and no rest for sustained periods have gone to a completely different level since back in the days.

        The modern high-tech racing boats do use more complex systems and all the available resources they can to increase speed, but that’s not at all because they can’t handle the lack of it. Actually, the most extreme classes have returned to a lot of the solutions from the rigs of old classic sailing ships, because it’s lighter and more reliable.

        I strongly believe that these high-tech machines develop knowledge that will trickle into boats for normal people, just like Formula One tech comes to normal cars, eventually. Cruisers will never be like IMOCAs or ORMAs, but a lot of their tech is already available for making normal cruisers better. Carbon masts. High tech ropes in the standing rigging. Furling gennakers. Rope shackles. Karver blocks. Much more.

        I’m a fanatic believer in simplicity, because I’ve noticed that’s what works by far the best in racing, when everything gets pushed to and past the limits. That means it also works best for cruising, because we want to spend our time cruising, not repairing. I think this “retro” race can show that simplicity in general is attractive and that most of the modern bullshit we stuff our boats with, isn’t really missed if we remove it.

        I also think bringing it down to small boats that sail quite slow makes normal people identify with it. They believe they could actually have been there. I think there is no conflict between this race and the extreme classes. Rather the opposite. I think many of the modern stars would love to sail a race like this and that they will certainly follow it.

        • Roger Harris Dec 18, 2015, 2:01 am

          Hello Stein,

          No teasing intended. I really couldn’t care less about sponsored “professional” sailors and their high tech vessels, support teams and fancy equipment. “Extreme” and “machines” sum it up, indeed: there is no beauty, no ‘soul’, no ‘muddling through’.

          No offence intended, either. We are all entitled to our own opinions. One thing’s for sure: if you like the high-tech stuff, you are certainly spoiled for choice in contemporary racing!

          Best wishes, Roger

          • Stein Varjord Dec 18, 2015, 11:45 am

            Hi Roger.
            No offence taken either. 🙂
            For some years, I sailed those “extreme machines” full time. That makes me less objective and more eager to defend, I guess, but I certainly see loads of “beauty, soul and muddling through”.

            Flying on one of those boats feels like entering another world of subtle balance and harmony where you feel in control of the raw power as if it was some fire-breathing dragon you could tame into behaving like a sweet dove. Poetic, is the fitting word. This may sound tacky and maybe even self-contradictive, but it describes my impression.

            Bottom line is that a fascination for whatever is all about what happened to trigger something in you. The old fashioned type racing like this coming race will be, has much more the “lone man against the ocean” feel. That I like much. Watching an extreme racer flying also gives me great pleasure. Different sides of fascination. The more pleasures the better. 🙂

  • Alan Teale Dec 17, 2015, 10:42 am

    Hi Colin, This is a truly worthwhile endeavour. And it is lucky for we AAC folk that we have you involved to share something of it with us. During the past season we met Susie Goodall, currently the only female entrant, in Reykjavik. She was serving as mate in the adventure training yacht ‘Hummingbird’ and we were berthed nearby in ‘Kiviuq’. We learned about the race from Susie and our interest was piqued, so it is good that we will be able to have your insights through AAC. The very best of luck to all involved. Alan

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 11:02 am

      Hi Alan
      It’s going to be worthwhile for us all – there’s so much good material for us to share even before the race starts!
      Susie made a great, humble presentation at the launch and I can only say that I hope that of the four places still to be filled at least one more will be a woman. There are four places left ‘by invitation’, so we’ll see…..
      Look forward to your comments


  • Ed Finn Dec 17, 2015, 1:24 pm

    Hope you can use this website to keep us advised of the modifications , repairs , upgrades etc, made by the entrants in preparation for this “excellent adventure”

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 1:37 pm

      Hi Ed
      obviously our main focus will be on Fabrizio’s entry, as that the one I’m involved with, so I’ll be there very inch of the way reporting on all aspects of the project.
      However, I also hope to focus on new ideas and approaches from others in the fleet, especially as they are such a diverse group of different ages. the choice of boats alone will be interesting!
      Stay with us – it’s going to be well worth it.

  • Brandon Ford Dec 17, 2015, 1:41 pm

    What boat did you choose? Don’t leave us hanging.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 1:46 pm

      Hi Brandon
      Ah, now that would spoil it!
      But I promise you that all will be revealed very soon, in a full post that looks at all of the possible designs that are permitted.
      It won’t be long – stick with us…
      Best wishes

  • Ed Finn Dec 17, 2015, 1:48 pm

    What modern equipment has been -dissallowed?
    Is “windvane ” self sreering allowed?
    What about. An autopilot-‘I’m thinking not?
    And electrical generation off the existing propeller and driveshaft?

    • Colin Speedie Dec 17, 2015, 2:57 pm

      Hi Ed
      wind vanes are allowed, autopilots are not.
      I’m not sure at this stage about generation from the prop shaft – perhaps, because the shaft is is not sealed on this race. 160W of solar panels are mandatory for charging emergency equipment.
      Basically the boats will be very simple indeed by todays’ standards.
      We’ll be looking at all these aspects in depth, to put them in the context of today – and simple are as good today as they were then.
      Best wishes

  • Rob Gill Dec 18, 2015, 1:30 am

    Hi Colin,
    What a wonderful idea to serialise this race on AAC from the get go, seeing things from backstage, rather than just “front of house” starting in the race village a few days before the gun. The idea to involve your readers as virtual shore crew is as inspired, as it is exciting.
    Can’t wait!

    • Colin Speedie Dec 18, 2015, 6:49 am

      Hi Rob
      glad you like the idea – it was the sort of thing we’d like to read ourselves, so it was an easy one to adopt.
      And with the wealth of experience we have in our readership, we would be mad to miss out on the opportunity to tap in to that resource.
      Welcome to the Team!

      • Stein Varjord Dec 18, 2015, 11:35 pm

        Hi Colin

        Wow! Seeing it that way, that we’re part of the team, is just awesome. I don’t know if I will be able to contribute, but I’ll try and I’ll enjoy realizing the possibility. Great stuff!

  • Dick Stevenson Dec 18, 2015, 12:35 pm

    Hi Stein, Nicely stated. Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

  • Drew Frye Dec 18, 2015, 5:43 pm

    The greatest cruelty of the original race—except for those few true loners—was the crushing isolation. I’m not understating the physical and mental challenges, but the psychological destruction many of the original participants faced was cruel. I’m just glad that connectivity will lessen that burden just a bit for the new crop.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 19, 2015, 7:13 am

      Hi Drew
      We’re all aware that this will be no picnic. But in general the boats are better than at least some of the original entrants, and I can assure you that most of the skippers at the launch have plenty of ocean experience, and there was already evidence of real camaraderie between the entrants.
      There is also an allowance that if an entrant has to pull in for one stop repairs they are not eliminated from the Race entirely, but are relegated to the ‘Chichester Class’, which should also take some of the pressure off making the right call in extremis.
      Best wishes

  • Mike Dec 18, 2015, 9:40 pm

    The book alluded to in the article, “A Voyage for Madmen,” is well worth a read. I’m guessing many regulars are familiar w/ it.

    Robin Knox-Johnson of course is now fully engaged w/ his Clipper Round-the-World races – those boats are currently in Sydney awaiting their next race leg, taking part in the Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 19, 2015, 7:16 am

      Hi Mike
      that’s a great book, and anybody with an interest in the race should read it. I’ll bet the entrants have…
      My wife and I met Sir Robin in Grenada last November, when his Open 60 was hauled out. Juts come back from 2nd in Class in the Route du Rhum – and looking as fit and cheerful as ever. What a guy!
      Best wishes

  • RDE Dec 19, 2015, 5:45 pm

    One of the many great things about the reincarnated Golden Globe is the variation and quality of the competitors it has attracted. Old salts like Jean-Luc van den Heede, whom I’ve always admired for his ability to bring what was usually the lowest tech boat in the field home into a great position in the BOC’s and Vendee’s he’s sailed. And young guys (and gal) who’ve accumulated vast amounts of experience making their living at sea and now have a chance to earn the recognition they deserve.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 20, 2015, 7:52 am

      Hi Richard
      exactly – and that’s on reason to feel more confident that they’ll stand up to the pressure of such a challenging race. It’s amazing – and very pleasing – to see how the seeds that were planted in the original race have blossomed over the years to give such a riot of colour and experience.
      I think this race will attract the attention of the public on a substantial scale, and generate a new generation of highly regarded sailors in the future.
      Best wishes

  • Serge Dec 20, 2015, 7:51 am

    One of the rare race that I will be following! Whish you all the best of luck.

    • Colin Speedie Dec 20, 2015, 7:53 am

      Hi Serge
      thank you, and it will be good to have you along with us.
      Best wishes

  • Rupert Apr 30, 2016, 8:26 pm

    This race sounds like fun but one thing in Colin’s post jars me. I’m delighted that we will get front row seat to the race and its preparation but “team manager”? As far as I’m aware none of the original contestants had such a thing, nor, I venture to suggest, would they have welcomed it had it been on offer. Isn’t the essence of what happened then, and what the organizers are trying to recreate now, the reality of complete self dependence? Many (some?) of the original boats were either built by the sailors themselves or were closely involved in their design or construction.

    While it is true that the sailors will be alone at sea I can’t help but feel that the presence of a “shore team” will greatly alter the ethos of the competition. In his fascinating book “The Ulysses Factor” J R L Anderson contrasted the space program with people who chose to sail alone or in small groups across the world’s oceans. Superficially, he posits, astronauts and sailors are a similar breed but on closer analysis he felt that in fact they were not at all the same. One is the at the tip of a long, complex and intensely focused team while the other is……..not!

    My question is, to what extent, if any, does having a shore manager and support team move us away from the independence that, at least for me, is at the heart of this race?

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