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An interview with Guy deBoer about his preparations for the 2022 Golden Globe Race

by David Schmidt 4 Feb 2020 08:00 PST September 4th, 2022
Guy deBoer's Tashiba 36, which he will sail in the Golden Globe Race 2022 © Images courtesy of Guy deBoer Collection

Race organizer Don McIntyre (AUS) opened a lot of people’s eyes to the possibilities of racing singlehanded around the world aboard older “retro” boats—following in the style and technologies available to the sailors who competed in the 1968 Golden Globe Race, which was the world’s first singlehanded around-the-world sailboat race— when he announced plans for the Golden Globe Race 2018. While naysayers abounded, the result was an exciting, albeit slow, globe-girdling adventure race that saw big weather, breakages and numerous retirements, not to mention an exciting finish.

Realizing that he had tapped into something real and attainable for “average” sailors (not that there’s anything average about racing solo around the world via Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean, irrespective of one’s VMG), McIntyre is now organizing the Golden Globe Race 2022 (GGR 2022). The next edition of this singlehanded race is set to depart from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on Sunday, September 4th, 2022, and—as of this writing—21 brave souls have entered.

According to the rules, up to 22 skippers will race in the Suhaili class, which is named after Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s steed that won the original Golden Globe Race. The Suhaili class is open to monohulls that measure 32-36 feet and 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 born of the same mold).

Additionally, up to ten skippers will compete in the Joshua class, which is named after Bernard Moitessier’s Joshua, the skipper and yacht combo that would have won the original GGR race had Moitessier not decided to keep circling the bottom of the globe in an effort to save his soul.

While September 4, 2022, sounds like a far-distant horizon for us landlubbers, the skippers who are engaging this hugely challenging and largely electronics-free race (read: celestial navigation) understand that careful preparation is paramount to ensuring a safe and successful journey.

I checked in with Guy deBoer, a Florida-based newspaper publisher and one of two U.S.-flagged entrants in the GGR 2022 who will be competing in the Suhaili class, via email, to learn more about his preparations ahead this challenging retro race.

What was your inspiration for entering the GGR 2022?

My sailing background has included racing one designs like Melges 24s, Martin 243s, [and] Etchells, to name a few. I’ve also made several attempts at making the US Olympic Team in the Star and Finn classes.

Later, I did the natural progression to racing big boats. Since 2005 I’ve migrated to what is deemed adventure sailing, like the 300-mile Everglades Challenge. I also want to compete in the 750-mile Race to Alaska.

Have you done much singlehanded sailing? If so, can you give us an overview?

The simple answer is no. I’m excited to train and learn the techniques needed to be a successful solo ocean skipper. I’m planning to sail about 8,000 ocean miles as a single-handed sailor prior to the start of the 2022 GGR.

What do you see as the harder challenge—the pre-racing preparations of the actual sailing miles?

Both equally, without proper preparation of the boat and myself will only lead to possible failure of not finishing and of course [not] winning. But first you need to finish—then you can focus on winning.

What were the biggest lessons that you learned from watching the sailors who raced in the GGR 2018?

First to open a dialogue with both past GGR competitors and my fellow skippers in the 2022 race. I want to learn from everyone, what they learned, and what they can teach me as well. I’ve spoken with quite a few skippers already and especially with Jean Luc, the 2018 GGR winner. They’ve all been very helpful and supportive.

And how do you plan to implement what you learned into your own campaign?

First, to start early on refitting the boat and work diligently in raising the funds necessary to win. A GGR budget is much smaller than a Vendee Globe but it is still out of my reach without help. American yacht clubs and their membership and marine companies can greatly help an American sailor like myself to win.

In the past 50 years only 5 Americans have competed in a solo non-stop round the world race. All were fine sailors but failed to win because they lacked the funds and time necessary to win. I hope to be the first American to win a race of this type and caliber. Only time will tell.

Why did you select a Tashiba 36?

I traveled to Europe in September to see several accepted GGR designs. In October, I visited the Annapolis Boat Show to meet marine vendors seeking their support. At that time, I did inspect a Tashiba 36 as well. After consultation with Bob Perry, the designer, and Ken Campbell of Commanders Weather, did I select the Toshiba has the best design to win the GGR. The decision was based on several key factors.

What is it about this design and build that attracted you to her?

Hull shape, waterline length, high natural stability and the ability to carry the provisions in gear, food, fuel, water and safety gear. She is a strong, fast design, and if I sail her well I’m confident she will finish the race and hopefully carry me to the win.

While the GGR 2022 is still a ways off, how do you feel your preparations are coming along?

I only purchased the boat in November and sailed her to my home in Key West, Florida.

I’ve been stripping off all the excess cruising gear, [and] I’ve removed over 600 pounds already with many more to go.

Fuel tank removal, new seacocks and a redesign of the deck hardware for solo sailing are the first things on the to do list.

Will you plan to sail to the starting line, or will you ship the boat over?

I would prefer to ship her. Sailing across the Atlantic can cause damage too close to the start of the race. Better she arrives ready to race and in perfect race trim.

Aside from trying to win the race, what kind of personal goals have you set for yourself?

First, I’m a very competitive person who races sailboats. I truly wish to win for the United States, and [I] will work very hard to accomplish that. The personal growth and enlightenment will come naturally from the journey and the experiences I will witness.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

I’m very proud to compete in the 2022 GGR and wish to thank the organizer Don McIntyre for organizing a race for normal sailors like myself and with realistic race budgets.

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