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Class 40 circumnavigation action set to unfurl in 2021 and 2023

by David Schmidt 23 Jul 08:00 PDT July 23, 2019
The Class 40 Aina Enfance & Avenir during the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017 © Christophe Breschi / Aina

It's understandable that bluewater racing has been close to mind for many North American sailors this year, given the summer's impressive lineup of world-class offshore races that began on U.S. waters. This commenced in late June with the Transatlantic Race 2019, which began off of Newport, Rhode Island, and finished some 2,960 nautical miles later off of Cowes, England, and continues with the still-ongoing Transpacific Yacht Race, which began off of Los Angeles, California, and is taking the fleet some 2,225 nautical miles to a finishing line off of Honolulu, Hawaii. While the TR 2019 winners have already been announced and the podium positions are quickly filling up in the Transpac Race, word also recently arrived of two new double-handed, round-the-world races for Class 40 sailors that will take place in 2021 and 2023.

According to the Class 40 website, the first of these events is the GLOBE 40, which is being organized by Sirius Events and is set to start on June 27, 2021, on the waters off of Cape Verde, France. The Globe 40 will take the fleet of Class 40s on a series of stage races that will complete a circumnavigation of our lonely planet. Planned stopover ports include Mauritius, Auckland, Papeete, Ushaia, and Grenada, with a finishing line in French waters. Interestingly, skippers are free to swap-out their crew members at stopovers, which could lead to some interesting tactics.

"What sailor, what offshore racer, what enthusiast of the sea, has never dreamed of sailing from the North to the South Atlantic, traversing the Indian Ocean, making for Polynesian shores, rounding Cape Horn and spending Christmas in Tierra del Fuego, drinking up the exhilaration of north-east Brazil and concluding a voyage in the balmy winter of the West Indies?" challenges Sirius Events on the GLOBE 40's website.

"The GLOBE 40 is a Round the World race, which is accessible to both informed amateurs and professional skippers," continues Sirius Events. "It is a Round the World, which combines competitive performance, adventure and travel, a Round the World whose course takes skippers off the beaten track and offers up some unique stopovers, a Round the World on a craft that is accessible both competitively and financially."

While the first edition of the GLOBE 40 has yet to take place, event organizers are already making contact with French cities that are interested in being associated with the 2021 event and future events, which organizers envision unfurling on a quadrennial basis.

The other major Class 40 event, slated for 2023, is The Race Around, which is being organized by Manuka Sports Event Management and 5 Oceans Sports Marketing, and which will take double-handed Class 40 sailors on a navigation that will give teams ample time to steep their hulls in the wild and windswept waters of the Southern Ocean. The Race Around will feature five stopovers, including South Africa, New Zealand and Brazil, and will round all three of the great capes before returning the fleet to its European finishing line.

"When discussing with both the Class 40 Board of Directors and our commercial partners, it was decided that 2023 provided the clearest opportunity within the calendar," said Hugh Piggin, The Race Around's event director, in an official race release. "Four years [of lead time] allows potential competitors the time to raise funds and pitch sponsors, the time to train and qualify; and for some, the time to build a new boat. When assessing the race calendar, we looked at the placement of the Route du Rhum in great detail and following consultation we believe that the teams we're looking to attract will prefer to race around the world after the Route du Rhum."

Others agree.

"Should we be satisfied with our sizeable armada of Class 40s in the Route du Rhum?" questioned Halvard Mabire, president of the Class 40 association, in an official Race Around communication. "In truth, it also shows that we are partially dependent upon one major event which takes place only once every four years. Even though Class40 has a varied and full race program, it is nevertheless obvious that Class40 deserves its own great around-the-world event, combining adventure with a high level of competition, an event capable of seducing the press, the public and therefore sponsors, so that our skippers can stay in Class40, instead of changing classes because they are attracted by events which Class40 does not yet have."

So, if racing around the world has always been on your bucket list, one of these Class 40 events could be your ticket to a world of offshore adventure and cross-cultural experiences. As the great American writer Mark Twain eloquently wrote:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Our thoughts exactly.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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