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American Curt Morlock enters Global Solo Challenge on ex IMOCA

by Global Solo Challenge 10 Feb 2023 10:36 PST
Curt Morlock © Curt Morlock

Curt Morlock has gone all in to kick start his project, selling his house and cashing in on his retirement fund. At 64 he is convinced that "now or never" is the time to achieve his dream to complete a solo circumnavigation.

He was already planning a round-the-world lap and looking for a suitable boat to do it when he came across the Global Solo Challenge which provided him with the perfect opportunity at the right time. He decided to join the camaraderie of the other participants in the GSC rather than sailing single-handed, and alone.

The boat he's chosen is very capable and proven. Galactic Viking is an Open 60 (Ex-IMOCA), designed by Bernard Nivelt, built and sailed by Thierry Dubois in the Vendee Globe 2000 and in the Around Alone in 2002. She was later campaigned by Patrice Carpentier in the 2004 Vendée Globe, by Rich Wilson in the 2008 Vendée Globe who achieved 9th. She also achieved a 3rd place in the Velux 5 Oceans Race in 2011 with Derek Hatfield.

Curt is the 54th skipper to have entered Global Solo Challenge and is fully aware that the biggest challenge is getting to the starting line. It is no surprise in fact that many of the original entries have stumbled upon the many pitfalls of such an overwhelmingly ambitious projects, were lack of funding or personal circumstances can quickly force a skipper to throw in the towel despite all reasonable efforts. Around 30 skippers are still battling their tasks lists, refitting their boats and preparing for the great adventure set to start from A Coruña later this year.


Where does your passion for sailing come from?
My passion is from being at the helm when the boat catches a wave and the surge shutters through the hull. However thrilling, I don't like as much flipping on 21ft sports catamarans. I recall my buddy and I on his father's 36ft sloop, I was at the helm. We were in between two waves and the mast did not reach the top. I had a permanent smile, and my buddy was calling me crazy. He was with me, lol, what was he thinking? My inspiration comes from the boys of the Whitbread; Peter Blake rest in peace, Grant Dalton and so many others. How about the women of the 2022 Route du Rhum in the IMOCA class, Justine Mettraux taking 7th place, Isabelle Joschke of MACSF in 9th and Pip Hare on Medallia: wow Pip pushed her small foil boat up to 10th with a shredded mainsail, then finished 12th.

It is easy to find passion and inspiration from living life. It is war and the consequences that should scare us.

I am an example of passion and desire over brains, lol. This will be a strategy of organizing my skill set and application. At 64 my dream is now or never; don't ever stop believing.

What lessons have you learned from sailing?
I am reminded of self-reliance, that most situations will pass, and to not under estimate Poseidon and Mother Nature.

What brought you to like single-handed sailing?
Perhaps for some of us, it is who we are. I suppose from an early age, not having others to tell me what I can or cannot do, has formed me into the person I am. From an early age, other boys were controlled by their parents, I did whatever I wanted. After high school, I joined the USMC and received an honorable discharge. I then got an education. I cannot plan and rely on others to be disappointed. I just do it, lol. I sold my house, cashed in my retirement, and bought a boat.

What prompted you to sign up for this event?
I am attracted to this event because my life has not given me the ability or the opportunity to compete in the Vendée Globe, Route du Rhum or Transat Jacques Vabre nor the New York Vendée.

My original intent was to purchase a boat and follow the same route as the Route du Rhum double handed and return to Europe. Then solo to USA, visit my family and return to follow the route of the NY Vendée. If I was comfortable, I would follow the same route of the Vendée Globe. During the process of locating an IMOCA and paying for it, I became aware of the Global Solo Challenge. The timing is perfect, and I am excited to join the camaraderie of the GSC. I want to meet Marco and his staff whom are responsible for making dreams come true.

Opportunities do not come often enough.

How do you plan to prepare for this event?
How I plan is the same as a solo month backpacking trip extended to four months with a few spare parts, lol.

In addition, I intend to acquire mechanical knowledge of the boat, study the electronic system and charging system; have the correct tools to repair any breakage. I will label every wire, and plumbing. I will make sure I have test points along the electronic system or I will install them.

I support the adage, "Chance Favors the Prepare". I will train to address locating an electrical short in the dark, repair a halyard in grumpy seas, replace a line in the keel box, patch a sail, and replace a rudder as Pip Hare and Conrad Colman experienced during the Vendée Globe.

To get the most from my boat, I will create a trim-book with a quick reference sail chart, and polar tables. I need to identify when to cross-over from one sail configuration to another, to adjust for wind speed and angle of attack. Oh, then there is the business side of marketing the amateur me, to promote a message, product or service to the world.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
To me everything is a process, and if there must be one Challenge, it would be getting to the starting line.

Tell us about your boat.
The boat is a Bernard Nivelt design and built and sailed by Thierry Dubois in France. It has a narrow beam compared to other IMOCA boats, and considerably less upwind/downwind sails. Galactic Viking is a strong safe boat launched in 1999 as Solidaires, participated in the 2000 Vendée Globe - Thierry Dubois DNF (autopilot failure), the 2002 Around Alone - Thierry Dubois 2nd, the 2004 Vendée Globe as VM Materiaux with Patrice Carpentier - DNF (broken boom), the 2009 Vendée Globe as American III with Rich Wilson finishing 9th/11 and the 2011 Velux 5 Oceans as ActiveHouse with Derek Hatfield finishing 3rd/5.

Do you intend to link this personal challenge with a social message?
Do Not Stop Believing, Dreams do come true, and whatever my sponsors add.

Sailing experience
Not nearly enough, I will get back to you after a couple transatlantic round trips, and I qualify for the GSC.

About the boat:

  • Boat name: Galactic Viking
  • Project: Bernard Nivelt (Thierry Dubois) IMOCA/Open60
  • Sail number: 84
  • Year: 1999
  • LOA: 60ft
  • Displacement: 8,000 kgs
  • Upwind sail area: 255m2
  • Downwind sail area: 465m2
  • Other: One canard/daggerboard, Canting keel operated by winch, Center water ballast system, Electric motor.

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