The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

The Golden Globe Race—The Boats and the Refits

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.