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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

On the Eve of Adventure: Dafydd Hughes's kickoff to the Global Solo Challenge

by Margherita Pelaschier 25 Aug 05:36 PDT 26 August 2023
Dafydd Hughes © Global Solo Challenge

Nearly three years have passed since the launch of the Global Solo Challenge (GSC), which was first announced in December 2020.

These were years filled with many decisions to be taken, efforts to promote the event, and meticulous preparations as skippers geared up to embark on this grand adventure, chasing a lifelong dream. The wait is nearly over: the first of several starting guns is set to go off on August 26th at 15:00 local time (13:00 UTC), marking the beginning of this incredible challenge.

Marco Nannini, the brain and driving force behind the GSC, shared his thoughts on this pivotal moment: "The first departure of the Global Solo Challenge is a great thrill for me too. To think that just under three years ago the idea for this event was born, and to now meet the competitors who have dedicated so much effort and resources to prepare, gives a much more tangible sense to the work done so far."

"I obviously follow many races as an ex-sailor and enthusiast and there are many differences, not just in the format. The staggered starts format makes it difficult to create the ambiance of a grand departure with the celebrations, the crowd, and the spotlights on everyone; replaced by a more intimate last few days for the Skippers with family and friends seeing them off. As a competitor, it can be a bit stressful to have too many commitments dictated by the organisation ahead of the start, so it's not necessarily a negative aspect. Reversing the order of departure based on performance, I hope, will create an event with a continuously growing interest from the public up to the arrival: the final outcome will be uncertain until the end. I am very satisfied with how things are going for this first edition, and I want to thank sponsors and partners who supported us as well as the entrants who worked so hard to be on the start line. For those that have missed the opportunity to join this inaugural edition, we plan to stage the next one in 2027-2028."

Given the unique format of the event, with boats grouped by performance characteristics setting off in successive departures, Welsh skipper Dafydd Hughes, born in 1960, will be the first to set sail aboard "Bendigedig", a Sparkman and Stephens 34. "I feel it's an honor to inaugurate such an extraordinary event, and it's fantastic to know that everyone will have to follow me." Dafydd commented.

The skipper, who is expected to take at least 200 days to complete his circumnavigation, arrived in A Coruna in mid-August a few days at sea from his native Wales. This provided him a moment to reflect on the monumental task ahead and to take stock of the extensive preparation that brought him to the starting line.

"The journey from Talybont, West Wales to A Coruna was surreal at moments, making me ponder the next time I'd sail into these waters and what experiences I'd have gathered by then. Being on the starting line itself feels monumental. The magnitude of this undertaking is no small feat. Everything needs precision - you can't just settle for 'good enough'. Each component, each decision must be spot on; it needs to function precisely when called upon."

Continue reading the full article here...

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