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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Ocean Globe Race 2023 begins, Global Solo Challenge update, SailGP news

by David Schmidt 12 Sep 08:00 PDT September 12, 2023
Ocean Globe Race Start © Susannah Hart

Daylight is slowly becoming a diminishing resource here in North America, however the international sailing scene is headed anywhere but fall and, eventually, winter storage. That's because the news cycle is going full-tilt, with (thankfully) no break in sight. If you're someone who enjoys bending on sails in the spring far more than flaking them after the season's last race (my hand is waving in the air), this should land as fantastic news.

This weekend marked the start of the Ocean Globe Race 2023, which began on the waters off of Southampton, United Kingdom, and which is a fully crewed race that seeks to recreate the adventures and challenges of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race. Teams must compete in production boats built before 1988, and they can look forward to getting their position fixes via sextant, not GPS, and plotting their routes on paper charts, not touchscreen-enabled multi-function displays with networked satellite communications for downloading the latest GRIB files.

The race is broken down into three classes. The Adventure class is populated by yachts measuring 47-56', stem to stern, the Sayula Class is open to yachts between 56-66', and the Flyer Class is for yachts that previously competed in the 1973, 1977, or 1981 Whitbread Round the World Race (N.B. it can also include "relevant" and "approved" production builds that measure roughly 55'-68').

A total of 14 yachts answered this siren's call, with five yachts racing in the Adventure Class, four yachts in the Sayula Class, and five yachts in the Flyer Class.

While there are many fine yachts and teams competing - including Maiden, the yacht famously skippered by Tracy Edwards in the 1989 Whitbread Race and crewed by an all-female crew, which is again being skippered and crewed by an multinational and star-studded all-female crew - it's fair to say that many international eyes were on the 73-foot Pen Duick VI.

Students of sailing history will remember that this yacht was skippered by Eric Tabarly (FRA) in the 1973-1974 and 1977-1978 Whitbread Races (it also raced as Euromarché in the 1981-1982 Whitbread Race). While the boat suffered multiple dismastings in the mid-'70s, it proved quick and the boat became a legend (as did her original skipper).

Now, 50 years after her keel was laid down, the yacht is again taking on the world, this time skippered by Marie Tabarly, Eric's daughter.

"The French sailors were a dominant force in the early Whitbread races, so it's very exciting to have them back in the OGR today!" said Don McIntyre, the race's organizer. "The numbers speak for themselves, so let's see who takes home the prize in the end! Big names and big reputations are at stake. Marie Tabarly has already launched challenges, declaring to the whole world that she has the best boat in the world!"

As of this writing, co-skippers Marco Trombetti and Vittorio Malingri's Translated 9 was in the pole position, followed by Maiden, which is being skippered by Heather Thomas, and Pen Duick VI. Also, as of this writing, the race tracker was showing top speeds of around 4.5 knots as the fleets works to escape the English Channel and reach the open waters to the west.

The race's first stop will be Cape Town, South Africa. Stay tuned for more news from this exciting retro race, as it becomes known.

As mentioned in my last newsletter, the Global Solo Challenge began on August 26, when Dafydd Hughes crossed the starting line of this retro-style pursuit race aboard Bendigedig, his 1971 Sparkman & Stephen 34. As of this writing, Hughes is still the only sailor who has been released onto the world's oceans, however word recently broke that a fifth American sailor has joined the mix.

Cole Brauer, 28, of Boothbay, Maine has thrown her hat into the ring for the full race. She will join eight other skippers and begin racing on October 28, aboard First Light, her 2008 Class 40.

"This goal has always been to be the First American Woman to Race Around the World," said Brauer in an interview on the race's website. "With this goal, I hope to show that this very male-dominated sport and community can become more open and less 'traditional'. This is changing a mindset that has been set in stone by many boat clubs, yacht clubs, and people (women and men). I will be fighting against the constant sexual, verbal, and physical harassment for not just myself but for the Corinthian and Professional women sailors in this sport."

Meanwhile, for readers who are more into the state-of-the-art than a stroll through ocean-racing history, last weekend also marked the third event of SailGP's fourth season.

Racing unfurled on the waters off of St. Tropez, France. According to reports, the light-air regatta featured its share of drama, including a collision between Canada and Spain (read: penalty Canada) and a full (and dramatic) dismasting for the New Zealand team; however the league still managed to score a highly competitive regatta.

Ultimately, Emirates Great Britain, skippered by Ben Ainslie, dominated the weekend and marked their first SailGP regatta win since Season 2. They were joined on the winner's podium by the Australian team, who took second place, and the Spanish team in third place.

"The team did a brilliant job all through the weekend and I feel like we made some big gains," said Ainslie in an official SailGP communication. "It's been a frustrating period for us not quite getting the results, but now we've got momentum behind us."

And, much closer to home, last weekend also marked 2023 edition of the Stamford Yacht Club's annual Vineyard Race and Oakcliff's International and Grand Slam, while this coming week marks the start of the New York Yacht Club's eighth annual Invitational Cup.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

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