The Golden Globe Race—The Boats and the Refits

Bernard Moitessier’s ‘Joshua’ under full sail ©Golden Globe Race/PPL

The original Golden Globe was not a "race" in the conventional sense, as none of the boats left at the same time and the winner would be the first one to complete the circumnavigation without stopping.

The boats were extremely varied, too, ranging from production Westerly GRP (fibreglass) yachts, through early plywood trimarans, to Joshua, Bernard Moitessier’s 39-ft Jean Knocker-designed steel ketch.

That the "race" was won by Robin Knox-Johnston’s relatively small (32 ft) wooden ketch Suhaili, a rather old-fashioned William Atkin ‘Eric’ design (which was not even his first choice of boat for the race), was a truly Corinthian surprise.

But somehow that victory embodied the spirit of inspired amateur endeavour that was so appealing to the audience then, and apparently remains so, as it is this boat that provides the broad template for the yachts permitted to enter this version of the Golden Globe Race in 2018.

A Budget Event?

On the face of it, this resurrection of the Golden Globe seems like a real low-cost opportunity to take part in an extraordinary event, and certainly the way that a cadre of entrants signed up in no time at all spoke of it touching a nerve amongst adventurous sailors around the world.

But now that the initial enthusiasm has died down, a more realistic view appears to have settled in, as the realities of what remains a super-human challenge have begun to sink in. One man in a small traditional boat versus the oceans it might still be on paper, but the parameters have changed considerably as reality has encroached on this event, as it was always bound to do.

It's a Race Now

There are perhaps two main reasons for this.

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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Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin,
Again, thanks for bringing the details of this competition to my attention. It is refreshing to read about these boats, the refit, the challenges and the expenses and feel like I can relate to it all: that it is in my ballpark of experience. I look forward to further reports.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Colin Speedie

A pleasure, as always, Dick.
These are the boats that I grew up around, so I, too, can relate to them and the endeavour involved. But the cost of the re-fits is extraordinary. No wonder you see so many (basically) abandoned boats in boatyards around the world.
Whilst looking a boat in the USA on behalf of a client, I made the remark to the broker that maybe some of those owners should just accept their boats were worthless and give them to some sailing mad youngsters. His reply was salutary; ‘they’ve tried that, but the kids won’t accept them because they can’t afford the slips or the upkeep!’
Best wishes
Colin

Steve Holloway

Hi Colin, yes I’m sure that you’re right about there being more competitors having to drop out due to lack of money, I know several are struggling. Lack of sponsorship has been a real problem for many we just hope that there will be a serge in public interest with the Hollywood film ‘The Mercy’ coming out soon and the possibility of a series of TV documentaries following the race might peak some interest in potential sponsors.
Getting sponsorship in the sailing world has never been easy though, Sir Robin couldn’t find a sponsor for the original race which is why he used the boat he already had, Suhaili, rather than the purpose built yacht he had planned. At least in those days the Sunday Times had money and could support the race itself. Today News Corp is broke and have no involvement in the race, so getting money to even run the race is difficult.
The latest development partly down to lack of money, is that the race will not now start from Plymouth, but from Les Sables d’Olonne. A shame for us Brits, but the competitors will still gather in Falmouth 2 weeks before the race start for the ‘parade of sail’ which should be a fabulous event with Sir RK-J and Sir Chay Blyth in attendance.
Steve

Colin Speedie

Hi Steve
sponsorship was always going to be tough for individuals partly due to restrictions on who much ‘logo’ could be displayed, the number of entrants and, I’d have to guess, the sheer risk (real or perceived) of being part of such an endeavour. And as we can see, it’s not a ‘budget’ race, so the money won’t go far.
And it’s a shame that first Falmouth, then Plymouth lost the hosting package for the event. Good luck to Les Sables D’Olonne who will no doubt do a great job, but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that it should have stayed in the UK.
Best wishes
Colin

RDE

Ironic that all of the boats that contested the original 1968 Golden Globe race would be prohibited from entering according to the initial regulations for the 2018 reenactment. But that said, the choice of regulations is very much an effort to maintain the spirit of the original adventure.

Joshua tales:
Back in the day when I was starting out as a wooden boat builder I met a sailor girl from California. She had crewed on board a 62′ S & S from Costa Rica to the South Pacific. When they anchored at one of the Tuamotos, there was a red ketch in the lagoon with rust streaking down the sides and a Frenchman occasionally listlessly chipping away at it. My friend rowed over and soon became acquainted with its owner, Bernard Moitessier. He had ended up there “to save his soul”, but the quest had deteriorated to a simple maintenance nightmare as has happened to so many other cruising boats who’ve grown barnacles on their anchor chain. My girlfriend invited him to sail up to San Francisco for a change of scenery, and was instrumental in securing a series of seminars and teaching gigs when he arrived.

Fast forward a few years, and a battered red-hulled steel boat arrived in my marina in Port Townsend WA. Moitessier had grown weary of San Francisco society, and sailed back toward the South Pacific with paying guests/students on board. Perhaps his seamanship had atrophied from too much time on land, but he made the fatal error of anchoring too close to the beach, surrounded by too many other boats. (and of course a CQR was involved!) Joshua was driven ashore and filled with sand during the 1982 Cabo hurricane. Penniless, Moitessier sold the remains for $20 to a couple of guys walking on the beach who shoveled the sand out, rebuilt the motor and nursed her the 2000 miles to windward to the Pacific Northwest.

How times have changed! The Joshua I knew had telephone poles for masts that had originally been “liberated” from a construction site in the middle of the night. The rigging was hand spliced from galvanized steel, and covered with oiled serving to prevent rust. And had been the godfather of all the French adventurers who followed in her wake.

Somewhat later I met Rolf Bjelde & Debora Shapiro from their Joshua “Northern Light” Their dream had always been to visit Antarctica, and when they stopped in Chile before starting across the Drake passage they came across a spare alternator that could be a life or death item in the unpredictable anchoring conditions of Antarctica. However it cost $16, and they had to forgo it because they only had $36 to their name. With that in hand they crossed to Antarctica and spent the summer season exploring, then sailed 7,000 miles non-stop back to Sweden where Rolf had relatives with a dock.

But we’ve made incredible progress. In 2018 it only costs $355,000 to have an adventure. And like the old truism about a tree falling in the woods not happening if nobody is there to hear it, for an additional $500 you can buy a Go-Pro Hero and make sure the adventure is real.

Colin Speedie

Hi Richard
good point about the make-up of the original entrants. It will be interesting, nonetheless, to see how the two ‘Suhaili/Eric’ replicas perform.
Bernard Moitessier was a remarkable character. As you say, he fetched up in quite a number of places with the boat falling to bits, but such was his charm and charisma he always found loyal acolytes (including friends of mine) to help him back on his way (eventually!).
And there’s a niggling nerve in the back of my head that keeps asking ‘what would Bernard have made of this race’? Given the way he withdrew from the original.
Best wishes
Colin

Svein Lamark

Colin, this is interesting. I now follow daily a local sailor, Are Wiig, training for this big race. Are is sailing his OE32 fram Lindesnes (South Cape of Norway) to North Cape. I enjoy to sit at home and read his daily report (Are sailing on Facebook). Are is trying to brake the record between the Capes. Are is sailing along a coast line, so it is not so difficult to make radio contact. I wonder if we old boys can sit at home and follow the big race when it starts? A tracking system is one thing, but to see videos and hear them talk is wonderful.

steve holloway

Hi Svein,
Well I’m very glad to hear you say that. I’m involved with the GGR in so much as I’m planning to produce a series for broadcast that will follow the race from beginning to end. The proposal is for a 6-8 part, hour long episodes that will show on board footage as the race progresses along with all the usual background stuff.
There are 4 ‘gates’ that the competitors must pass though on the voyage and we will be picking up cards from the onboard cameras on each one so we can update the race while its in action. We will also have news from race control which will include audio from the sailors. (they cannot use satellite communication to call anything other than race control)
Getting a commission for main stream broadcast on sailing is not easy, but we are a long way down the road with this proposal now and there has been a lot of interest, so fingers crossed. If it happens it will be commissioned by a UK broadcaster but sold worldwide in various languages. I will also be posting latest information on a web site and feeding the news networks with any noteworthy incidents so hopefully we can get some wider public interest in sailing and expand to other areas. I still find it shocking that Alex Thompson could get so close to being the first Brit to win the Vendee Globe this year and get zero TV coverage in the UK!
Steve

Svein Lamark

Thank you Steve! You give interesting information. I wish you good luck with your GGR project!

Colin Speedie

Hi Svein
Steve beat me to it with the news on the video aspect of the GGR, which will be made up during the race from cards picked up at the various drop off points. So it will not be the ‘daily fix’ that you might have liked, but personally I think the composite footage may prove more compelling.
And yes, Steve, no doubt the UK media’s lack of interest in even our best and brightest like Alex Thompson means that while he’s a virtual unknown (beyond sailors) here at home, in France he’s a household name on a public scale that would be unimaginable here. Good luck with your project, though!
Best wishes
Colin

Marc Dacey

Colin, I really like that rethink of “Joshua”, probably because I’m a sucker for ketches in steel. And that photo of Susie Goodall is one of the best “helm” shots I’ve ever seen. I’m interested in this race for more than reasons of sentiment and will follow it to see which strategies succeed or fail.

Colin Speedie

Hi Marc
well, it’s an interesting development, that’s for sure! And having a one design class should show who can get the best out of such a boat.
Susie’s entry seems well ahead of the curve, with a good boat that she’s putting some miles under the keel, a major sponsor and a high profile. Good luck to her!
And I agree – this race is interesting in many ways and it has been fascinating to be a small part of it for a short while.
Best wishes
Colin
Colin

Peter Mannerstråle

Wouldn’t a Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35 be a good boat for this race?
Price for a Rasmus 35 would be between €30000 and €50000 for a good boat.

Steve Holloway

Hi Peter, you’re right the Hallberg Rassy Rasmus 35 is Just the sort of boat the GGR were thinking of, but the displacement just falls short of the mark I think. Race rules say 6.2 tonnes min. And I think the Rasmus 35 is 5.3 tonnes? Not sure about the first few off the production line that were Mahogany, would be lovely to see one of them race!
Here’s the full list of accepted production boats:
Westsail 32 • Tradewind 35 • Saga 34 • Saltram 36 • Vancouver 32 & 34 • OE 32 • Eric (sister ship to Suhaili) • Aries 32 • Baba 35 • Biscay 36 • Bowman 36 • Cape Dory 36 • Nicholson 32 MKX-XI • Rustler 36, Endurance 35, Gaia 36, Hans Christian 33T, Tashiba 36, Cabo Rico 34, Hinckley Pilot 35, Lello 34, Gale Force 34.
Steve

2018 Golden Globe Race approved designs: Westsail 32 • Tradewind 35 • Saga 34 • Saltram 36 • Vancouver 32 & 34 • OE 32 • Eric (sister ship to Suhaili) • Aries 32 • Baba 35 • Biscay 36 • Bowman 36 • Cape Dory 36 • Nicholson 32 MKX-XI • Rustler 36, Endurance 35, Gaia 36, Hans Christian 33T, Tashiba 36, Cabo Rico 34, Hinckley Pilot 35, Lello 34, Gale Force 34.

Peter Mannerstråle

Thank for the list Steve,

Do you know why the limit min 6,2 ,has That something to do with rigthing moment or what.
Sade the did not include any multihulls.

/Peter

Colin Speedie

Hi Peter
I think it’s more to do with keeping the fleet within certain mean parameters to keep the fleet together.
best wishes
Colin

steve holloway

Hi Peter, Yes Colin’s right they did want to get an even field and given the fact these boats are going to be stuffed to the gunwales with provisions they’re going to have to be fairly substantial in the first place so they wanted to exclude the lighter built boats.
As regards the multihulls i’m no expert, but perhaps there wasn’t anything built pre 1988 that was deemed up to the job?
For a taste of what we’re aiming at with the broadcast series here’s some bits I’ve put together as a teaser for commissioning purposes.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ni6tpoqkfcab2fs/GGR%20Teaser-2-Vimeo%20HQ%201920%2014%2C000.mov?dl=0

It’s not for publication so please don’t put it on You tube or the like, but I would be interested to hear what people on the site think. It’s just a mish-mash of bits at the moment to get a sense of what were aiming at. I have to make this for a general audience, no broadcaster is going to commission a speciality sailing program, so i’m afraid it’s no use telling me you want to see more about the boats, I know! As a sailor myself I’ll squeeze in as much as possible, but it will be limited, sorry!
Steve

Colin Speedie

Hi Steve
very nice piece of work and a solid outline of the reasons for the Race. I’m sure there will be more space in the future bulletins for the boat aspects and we’ll all look toward to that. Keep us posted as we’ll be producing more articles on this fascinating and challenging event as it transpires.
Best wishes
Colin

RDE

Hi Steve,
“perhaps there wasn’t anything (multihull) built pre 1988 that was deemed up to the job?” I don’t think that’s really the case. Including multihulls in the 2018 Globe would destroy the attempt to re-create its character because multihull design has changed so radically since 1968. Unless the plan were to send people off in something like the Piver suicide machines that started in the original Race!

Even limiting oneself to wood construction, there are dozens of Gold Coast 53’s or Kurt Hughes cylinder mold 37-60′ charter catamarans built before 1988 that have been working 300 days a year for decades. Sturdy rigs with manageable sail plans and proven structural designs. Twice the speed potential of most of the boats on the approved list–so much so that they’d end up sailing in completely different oceans. Perhaps the biggest problem is the fact that they would be too fast to steer with wind vane steering so modern electronics would have to be allowed. Not that I’d take one into the southern ocean— that’s the kind of challenge only a French adventure sailor could love!

steve holloway

Hi RDE, I certainly think you’re right that the diversity of the boats in the original race was a very interesting factor. And also that multihulls would have developed greatly between 1968 and the cut off date of 1988, so maybe there would be some merit in have a multihull class. As Colin said in his article, the 2022 race will have the Joshua class, they will stager the start for that class based on the times the 2018 fleet go around in, so why not have a mulithull class with it’s own start? Lets not forget that Nigel Tetley managed to get his trimaran almost all the way around and only sank in the end after pushing too hard thinking he was being caught by Crowhurst. Don’t think I’ld be happy taking a boat like that out of the English channel but you’re right the French will sail anything!

RDE

Hi Steve,
Nice bit of work on your pilot film project!
The fact that there are multihulls that could conceivably fit within the general parameters and survive the voyage doesn’t mean that it would be a good idea! A KHSD 60 or Gold Coast 53 is a 15-16 knot boat in moderate conditions where much of the race will be sailed. Having two classes with such different speed capabilities would require radically different start times and dilute the “adventure” character of the race.

Peter Mannerstråle

Nice movie Steve!(not reposted anywhere)
RDE I have a KHSD 42 catamaran but it’s built 2002 so maybe not in the running for the GGR 🙂

Stein Varjord

Just an update on Are Wiig. Abour now he’s finishing a record attempt from the southern tip of Norway to the northern tip of mainland Norway (71 degrees north). He’s very close to breaking the fully crewed record. The distance is about 1 100 nautical miles and he’s sailing it solo nonstop. He does this to test himself and the boat, and actually timed his start so he would get into a gale. Sailing this stretch in october is pretty rough, even without looking for trouble. He seems to have taken another step towards being a competent participant in the GGR. He sails one of the smallest boats, a 32 foot OE32, but it’s light and fast for its size (and age/style), so this might not be a weakness. I’m looking forward to following this race. The planned coverage mentioned previously in this thread sounds promising!

Colin Speedie

Hi Stein
hats off to Are – I’m not sure I’d want be doing this along the Norwegian coast this late in the season. His is one of the more unusual boats, and it’s going to be interesting to see what the ‘right’ choice of boat will eventually prove to be for this race – our modern thinking is so far removed from these boats. And then there’s the skipper – lots to watch here!
Best wishes
Colin

Stein Varjord

Hi Colin
My hat is also thoroughly off in respect for Are. I’m quite sure I would not like to sail into the proper arctic north as late as this. The severe weather is one issue. Cold and darkness another….

Anyway, it went very well. He covered the about 1100 nautical miles in 7 days 1 hour and 11 minutes. That’s an absolute record. The previous record was more than 20 hours longer and was set by a much bigger boat, fully crewed. There hasn’t been too much competition for this record, but still, I’m very impressed!

Colin Speedie

Hi Stein
it may well be that not many people have gone for this record (!) but it’s a great achievement. Respect, Are!
Colin

Bill Attwood

Hi Steve
I really enjoyed your taster! You seem to have achieved a good balance between interesting “Joe Public” and providing the sailing porn needed by the hard-core. The potential competitors in the video have attractive personalities, are interesting and articulate. Lots of luck with the project.
Yours aye
Bill Attwood

Paul Rutherford

Steve, great taster film, thanks for posting it for us to see at this stage.
Looking forward to seeing more as things progress.
Paul

Paul

Does the Joshua GGOD mean we don’t now need the Adventure 40? A comparison would make an interesting article.

Colin Speedie

Hi Paul

interesting you should suggest that as it did cross my mind when I wrote the article that in a way ‘Joshua’ was the Adventure 40 of her day! But there the comparison ends I think for whilst the concept shares many similar aims (durability, simplicity, for example) in reality design and people’s expectations of what a sailing boat for ocean crossing should be today has changed beyond all recognition. And it’s interesting perhaps to note that Bernard Moitessier’s final boat was far closer to the A40 than ‘Joshua’.
But it’s a thought provoking idea….
Best wishes
Colin