Please select your home edition
Edition
C-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 TOP

Sam Holliday on The Race Around's new singlehanded class

by David Schmidt 20 Apr 08:00 PDT Summer 2023
The Race Around © Sam - The Race Around

The Class 40 rule was created in 2004, and since then more than 160 monohulls have been built to its box-rule dimensions. More importantly, countless offshore miles have now been sailed in these can-do 40-footers, from circumnavigations to transatlantic "sprints" to much more casual distance-racing affairs. The class has long been a popular platform for singlehanded skippers coming out of the Classe Mini, or for doublehanded sailors who are interested in testing their offshore acumen against some of the world's fastest bluewater sailors. Now, thanks to a recent announcement from The Race Around, which is slated to begin its inaugural circumnavigation race in the summer of 2023, both singlehanded and doublehanded Class 40 sailors can get involved in the event's offshore action.

A bit of backstory. The Race Around will begin in France in the summer of 2023 and will take singlehanded and doublehanded crews around the world via the great capes. The event will be run as a series of (up to five) stage races and will give each sailor or team a lengthy steeping in the Southern Ocean.

While The Race Around was always going to feature doublehanded teams, the solo class is a recent addition that will only add to the event's gravitational pull. The new solo class will also likely be of great interest to future (and potential) Vendee Globe sailors who are looking to gain experience and earn race accolades aboard a more manageable program before stepping up to the costs and complications of an IMOCA campaign.

I checked in with Sam Holliday, co-founder of The Race Around, via email, to learn more about the race's exciting new singlehanded class.

What was the impetus for adding a single-handed division to The Race Around?

To be honest it's always been in the back of our minds. Upon announcing the race, we received a good amount of feedback from some pretty big names that expressed considerable interest in competing but competing within a solo class.

To race solo around the globe you have two options, The Golden Globe Race or the Vendée Globe.

This leaves out a considerable amount of very good professional sailors and seasoned amateurs that cannot obtain the budgets required for a Vendée campaign, or [who] want to complete a solo lap that harks back to the BOC Challenge and Around Alone—races that had everything!

Realistically, how many single-handed boats do you expect to see on the race's starting line?

It's always a tricky question but with the interest we're seeing from real teams, it has led us to increase the fleet size from 25 to 35. For now, I'll say enough [boats on the starting line] to put on a good show!

Which division do you see as being more popular with competitors—solo or doublehanded? Also, why?

This is an interesting one and I think the answer depends upon whether you live in France or not.

The traditional French sailors will of course favor the solo category. They've been brought up on it. It's within their sailing DNA.

Outside of France, I expect the doublehanded fleet to attract significant interest with the international gang. Let's not forget that the doublehanded sector is the fastest growing within our sport (please take note World Sailing/IOC).

Doublehanded [racing] offers the opportunity for pro/amateur teams and one thing we're seeing is a good number of big names looking for younger co-skippers. Take Lalou Roucayrol for instance, his program will involve the transition of knowledge to younger sailors. I think we'll see a real talent-development program within the doublehanded class.

What do you see as the harder win—The Race Around Trophy or The Race Around Cup?

It's a race around the world, both are bloody hard. I really do expect it to be even.

Racing solo has its disadvantages compared to when sailing two-up, but it also has a simplicity that cannot be taken for granted. Of course, should a boat sustain damage, an extra pair of hands will make life easier but it's exciting.

Both classes will create [their] own story.

I do expect the solo class to perhaps have a higher level of professionalism so the racing itself should be tight, that'll create a great race but, to answer your question, perhaps [it will be] a harder class to win.

What pre-race qualifications are required to enter the race as a solo skipper?

The Race Around is a race that takes the safety of its competitors exceptionally seriously so the qualification process will echo that: We will ask tough questions of our competitors and their boats.

Further information will be released shortly within the Notice of Race but expect to see X amount of miles raced within a solo format on the boat in which they intend to compete on. We'll certainly take a common-sense approach to things, too. Let's say a 2020 Vendée Globe sailor wants to compete, their qualification might look slightly different to someone coming off the back of a 2021 Mini Transat.

Do you expect that most solo skippers will be coming off of events such as the Mini Transat or the TJV, with their mind eye's set on an eventual Vendee Globe campaign? If so, won't the race's 2023/2024 schedule conflict with the start of the 2024 Vendee Globe cycle?

I do, we're seeing a huge transition within Class40, the age of competitors is getting slightly younger and many are coming from Classe Mini. It's exciting and when you consider [that] in this most recent Vendée Globe, 18 of the 33 competitors came from Class40, [so] it's clear some [entrants] will be gunning for the 'Everest of the Seas'.

For others though The Race Around will be the pinnacle of their amateur and professional careers.

From a calendar point of view, those racing with us in 2023/2024 will be looking at the 2028 race. Let's keep in mind just how difficult it is to start a Vendee Globe campaign and with their new regulations, if you want to guarantee your place on the start line in 2024 you must have started yesterday.

Are Class 40s tough enough for the Southern Ocean, especially when sailed by a crew of one?

Absolutely. Through my role with Miranda Merron's IMOCA60 team this Vendée Globe has been fascinating. A lot of my time in Les Sables d'Olonne has been spent talking with those guys and girls who have just been in the South, getting their thoughts and understanding the problems they faced.

All of that expertise and the conversations we've had with numerous people confirmed to us [Class 40s are] tough enough. Let's also remember that speed is your friend in the South, [and] new Class40s are posting 400 mile plus days, faster than many of the older 60s. The SCOW bows are fascinating and the lack of a swing keel and foils keeps a nice simplicity to the boats.

Many of the Vendée skippers I talked with longed for Southern Ocean conditions when in the midst of the numerous North Atlantic lows!

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

I think I'd just like to publicly state how proud we are to be [the] Class40's Official Round-the-World race. The Class [has] done an amazing job of controlling costs and bringing new people in, the secondhand market is booming and it's looking likely a total of 19 new Class40s have been, or will be, built this year. All for 10 percent [of the cost] of an IMOCA build... That's exciting.

Related Articles

James Keen on the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge
An interview with James Keen on the 2021 Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge I checked in with James Keen, chairman of the 2021 Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge, via email, to learn more about this exciting regatta. Posted on 23 Sep
Square peg, round hole. Round peg, square hole.
One thing is pretty clear with fluid dynamics. Smooth and flowing wins the day. If you think about fluid dynamics for just a second, one thing is pretty clear. Smooth and flowing wins the day. Posted on 23 Sep
Mixing it up
A few sailing events which are a bit 'out of the norm' As we head towards the end of September, I've been thinking about which events, and days out sailing, have been the most fun this year. There are a few to choose from, and overall it's been a good year for time on the water. Posted on 21 Sep
Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon on the Jackrabbit
An interview with Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon on the 2021 Jackrabbit J/22 regatta I checked in with Michael Weber and Jeff Braddon, who serve as advisor emeritus and chair (respectively) of the 2021 Jackrabbit J/22 regatta, via email, to learn more about this freshwater One Design regatta. Posted on 15 Sep
Laura Grondin and Megan Ratliff on the M24 NAs
David Schmidt checks in with the chair and president ahead of the 2021 Melges 24 U.S. Nationals I checked in with Laura Grondin, chair of the International Melges 24 Class Association, and Megan Ratliff, president of the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association, via email, to learn more about the 2021 Melges 24 National Championship regatta. Posted on 14 Sep
A shameful story and a warning to sailors
A shameful story and a warning to the sailing world Sometime in the recent past, a club hosted a small-but-well-attended regional regatta. A consciously unvaccinated individual attended, refused to wear a mask, and then tested positive for Covid-19. Posted on 14 Sep
Happy, happy. Joy, joy!
Without doubt, the best perk of this job is the reach and connection There are definitely some serious perks to this gig. Yet without doubt, the best is the reach and connection with sailors far and wide. The emails, calls, and chats on the quay still come in, and continue to inspire the entire team. Posted on 13 Sep
Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo on the Snipe NAs
An interview with Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo on the 2021 Snipe North Americans I checked in with Paul Earl and Shan McAdoo, co-chairs of the 2021 Snipe North Americans, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta. Posted on 8 Sep
Inspirational
It's such an important word in any sport It's such an important word in any sport, and seeing an inspirational performance in sailing fills us with enthusiasm. Posted on 7 Sep
Juana Rudzki on the annual Juana Good Time Regatta
David Schmidt checks in with the event chair to learn more... I checked in with Juana Rudzki, event chair of the 31st annual Juana Good Time Regatta, via email, to learn more about this fun-minded multihull regatta. Posted on 7 Sep
Selden 2020 - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 3Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px2 BOTTOM