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Looking ahead to two great retro sailing races

by David Schmidt 7 Jan 08:00 PST January 7, 2020
2023 Ocean Globe Race map © Event Media

2020 may have only barely begun, but already entire groups of adventure-minded sailors are looking forward to 2022 and 2023, which is when the Golden Globe Race 2022 and the 2023 Ocean Globe Race are slated to begin. For anyone who is just tuning into these events, both of which are being organized by Australian adventurer and hardman Don McIntyre, these "retro races" offer the adventure of an around-the-world race, sans the eye-watering costs associated with Grand Prix events such as The Ocean Race (slated to start in 2021) or the Vendee Globe (slated to start this November).

This isn't to say that these sailors are not going to push their vessels and themselves to the edge - they will, as the fleet contesting the Golden Globe Race 2018 clearly proved. But instead of returning home with fine trappings such as setting a new 24-hour record for a single-handed or fully crewed monohull, sailors contesting the Golden Globe Race 2022 and the 2023 Ocean Globe Race are instead likely to come home with their sea chests brimming with stories of celestial navigation, new friendships and massively expanded sailing résumés.

Some backstory.

The fleet contesting the Golden Globe Race 2022 is set to depart from Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on Sunday, September 4th, 2022, their bows aimed at the open ocean, before eventually returning to this same fabled port. Sailors will compete in two classes. The Suhaili class, named in honor of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's steed that won the 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race (upon which this race is modeled), is open to monohull yachts 32-36 feet whose design and build has been approved by the race (read: designed before 1988 and built out of GRP as part of a series of at least 20 boats that come from the same mold).

The Suhaili class will be limited to a total of 22 boats.

Additionally, the race is introducing a "Joshua" class of ten identically built, steel-hulled boats that are built to similar specifications as Bernard Moitessier's Joshua, which would have won the 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race until Moitessier decided to save his soul by digging deeper into the Southern Ocean, rather than banging a left-hand turn after passing Cape Horn.

Joshua-class boats will be built by the Turkish yard Asboat, and prospective skippers can purchase their replicas now (N.B. build times are roughly 14 months).

Navigation is limited to what was available to the contestants of the original 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race (read: sextants), however all boats will be electronically tracked 24/7. In addition, all boats will carry GPS, however breaking the seal on this verboten instrument automatically relegates a boat to the Chichester Class.

Sailors will compete for an overall line-honors win, as well as class honors, but careful readers will see that the former prize essentially recreates the fight for first place in the 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race between Joshua and Suhaili.

Unlike the 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race, interested participants in the Golden Globe Race 2022 need to demonstrate that they have sailed at least 8,000 nautical miles, including at least 2,000 nautical miles of singlehanded sailing. Additionally, sailors must be at least 18 years old at the start, and they must be invited to compete.

"The addition of a Joshua Class sailed in all new steel replicas is an exciting prospect that may attract a new class of sailor who prefers to buy new, rather than go through a sometimes expensive and lengthy refit on an older boat," said McIntyre. "This is quite apart from the challenge of sailing in the footsteps of Bernard Moitessier. I am looking forward to sailing one in 2022!"

Additionally, McIntyre is also taking his "retro sailing" concept to fully crewed boats with the 2023 Ocean Globe Race.

This event, which is slated to kick off from a still-to-be-named European port on September 10, 2023, will be raced in three classes. The Adventure class will feature racing in boats that are 47-56 feet LOA, while the Sayula class (named after the winner of the first Whitbread Round the World Race) will be contested by yachts that are 56-66 feet, LOA. Finally, yachts that competed in the first three editions of the Whitbread, as well as "class surveyed production boats" up to 66 feet will compete for the Flyer class.

"For the first time in three decades, ordinary sailors and yacht owners have an opportunity to experience racing around the world in an affordable, safe and fun way," said McIntyre in an official race release. "You don't need to be an elite sportsman nor require a huge support team.

"And as far as budgets go, the cost of a campaign need not cost any more than just one of the carbon-fiber foils on an IMOCA 60," continued McIntyre. "So many sailors harbor dreams of circling the Globe and racing around Cape Horn. The Ocean Globe Race now makes these ambitions possible once more."

So while the year might be young, if one of your resolutions involves retro sailing or bluewater adventure sailing, take a closer look at both of these races. Sure, the boats might not fly above the water on hydrofoils, but both of these races present an entirely different type of seamanship challenge that just might come as a refreshing news to sailors who are looking to push themselves to the limit, sans high-dollar corporate sponsorship.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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