Please select your home edition
Edition
Lennon Thermalite 728x90 2

Great Cape Race 2021: Why sailing needs a no-frills round the world race

by Guy Nowell 6 Nov 2020 01:38 PST October 2021
Great Cape Race 2021-22 © Great Cape Race

In 1969 Sir Robin Knox-Johnston completed the first solo unassisted non-stop circumnavigation. Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Alec Rose went 'around alone' but many of the sailing Establishment still thought that the idea of a fully-crewed round-the-world race was an impossibility. Fortunately, not everyone was listening.

The best deals are done in pubs, and a meeting between the Royal Naval Sailing Association and brewery chief Sam Whitbread (appropriately, in a pub in Portsmouth) led to the Whitbread Race, and when in September 1973 17 boats crossed the start line in Portsmouth, a whole series of legends began.

Conceptually, it was simple stuff: follow the Clipper routes around the world, and stop off at Cape Town, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro along the way. Four races, handicaps, aggregate times to count for an overall result. An adventure waiting for anyone ready to step up to the plate.

After seven editions of the race between 1973 and 1998, the Whitbread Round-the-World Race became the Volvo Ocean Race, and in 2019 just 'The Ocean Race'. Over the latter period the race became more and more a commercial venture dominated by sponsors' fiscal interests, and less an adventure for Corinthian sailors. The course around the world deviated substantially from the traditional Clipper route, dictated by the need to keep the paying customers happy, visiting Scandinavia, the UAE, India, China, and North America. Some said it was more about the money, and less about the sailing. Some suggested that the tail was now wagging the dog.

The variety of boats that contested the early editions of the race have now ended up as two One Design classes, and private owners with a suitable boat and a competent crew being able to participate are a thing of the past. Except...

Now say hello to the Great Cape Race, brainchild of Andrew Cape, some seriously experienced race management (inc one Volvo-winning team CEO), and of course a few beers in the pub. "We're not trying to recreate the Whitbread Race," says Capey, himself a veteran of eight circumnavigating races, "but nowadays it's really hard for a sailor to get a foot in the door for a Volvo or an Ocean Race. The huge amounts of money involved mean that you have to be at the top of the game in order to get picked, and you can't do that without a lot of experience. It's a Catch-22 situation." (Capey's first Whitbread Race was on board Tokio, in 1993-94, and he says he's not getting any younger).

And then there's the money. "Buying into a full professional one design fleet race like The Ocean Race is very, very expensive. Bring your own boat, and bring back handicaps. It's cheaper that way. There are so many boats out there (and their owners, and crews) that would love to do a round-the-world race, but there isn't a race for them to join. Practically anything that races Class 0, and would like something bigger to chew on than a Fastnet or a Bermuda." Stick to the Clipper Route, limit the number of stopovers, and that way you contain both time and costs."

The emphasis of the GCR is fully "on the sailing, not the circus." With expressions of interest already in double figures, quite evidently there are a few people out there who would like their sailing a bit more plain vanilla and a little less knickerbocker glory. This sounds like an idea whose time has come (again): an open race for anyone looking for some real adventure.

www.greatcaperace.com

Related Articles

Trofeo Princesa Sofía announces official carrier
The announcement of Trasmed as the official carrier extends the successful collaboration Fitur has been the scenario chosen by the regatta organizers and Trasmed to sign the agreement that makes the shipping company owned by Grimaldi the official carrier of the 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca, to be held from April 1 to 9, 2022. Posted on 23 Jan
ILCA NZ Nationals - Day 4: Winners decided
Saunders adds NZ Laser Championship to World title; Armit wins Youths and Wild wins Masters Favourite Tom Saunders continued to dominate the 41 boat ILCA7 fleet, adding the 2022 New Zealand championship to his recent ILCA World Championship win. Youth sailor Caleb Armit dominated the ILCA6 fleet. Phil Wild wins Masters. Pilkington tops Womens. Posted on 23 Jan
18ft Skiff NSW Championship in Sydney race 7
Another brilliant finishing burst by the current Australian champion Another brilliant finishing burst by the current Australian champion Tech2 team to win Race 7 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today has set the scene for a match race type finish to the series Posted on 23 Jan
Tanguy Le Turquais, dreaming big
Working his way up to achieve his goal of competing in 2024 Vendée Globe After recently acquiring an IMOCA, Tanguy Le Turquais is methodically working his way up to achieve his goal of competing in the 2024 Vendée Globe. Posted on 22 Jan
RORC Transatlantic Race Day 15
Scarlet Oyster dares to dream Two weeks into the RORC Transatlantic Race, three more French teams have crossed the finish line outside Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Posted on 22 Jan
AkzoNobel sponsor Newport Bermuda Race
A long history of success for sailors propels AkzoNobel to formally support the 635nm race The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) is pleased to welcome AkzoNobel Yacht Coatings as an Official Sponsor of the 2022 "Thrash to the Onion Patch." Posted on 22 Jan
ILCA NZ Nationals - Day 3: Leaderboard unchanged
In the ILCA 7's it was again a two out of three bullet day for reigning World Champ Tom Saunders Patience was the name of the game for the beginning of day 3. The fleet was on course for a 1pm start as scheduled, with a light easterly blowing. Posted on 22 Jan
2022 GKA preliminary event schedule
We're stoked to have some awesome events lined up We're stoked to have some awesome events on the schedule in 2022. Despite ever-evolving global challenges, the GKA celebrated an awesome 2021 season. Posted on 22 Jan
C-foils to be fitted to Nexans - Art & Fenêtres
In refit since December with foils acquired from Alex Thomson Racing In refit since December, Fabrice Amedeo's monohull is undergoing a complete transformation as she's equipped with C-shaped foils. Posted on 22 Jan
49th BVI Spring Regatta - Charter and race
Sailors from around the world are looking to come back to the British Virgin Island and race Many of sailors from around the world are looking to come back to the British Virgin Island and race. For those who don't own their own boat, there is a wide selection of race boats to charter depending on what crews are looking for. Posted on 21 Jan
North Sails 2021 Innovation - FOOTERASB21-SW-1456x180-Banner-Bottom-5Doyle Sails 2020 - Redefining Boundaries 728x90 BOTTOM