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Cruising at the Golden Globe Race

by SV Taipan 16 Jun 2018 14:43 UTC
Crossing the line. They're on the way to France © SV Taipan

Not the Golden Globe but the lead-up race, the SITraN Challenge left Falmouth on Thursday the 14th of June. A big fleet of excited supporters followed the race competitors from Falmouth Haven Marina to St Mawes and then to the start line where, in a blaze of color, sails were hoisted and the real business of the challenge commenced.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, once again at the helm of his 9.75m Suhaili, a traditional ketch and the winner, 50 years ago, of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, fired the shot signaling the race start.

16 competitors will endeavor to get each other's measure and test the equipment installed to enable us, the viewing public, to follow their progress via tracker, and via satellite phone link with the organizers. We will be able to hear their individual stories as the Golden Globe challengers go south and then westward around the worlds five great capes before returning to France. They will encounter challenging southern ocean conditions in their small and very basic boats, without the benefit of any modern technology. No GPS, Autopilot, chart plotters, wind instruments, computers, watermakers, phones or digital cameras. Its back to wind up clocks, paper charts, sextant, typewriters and a good look at the sky for weather indications.

The dedication and hard work of many people, but especially Don McIntyre from Australia has seen this race re-enactment come to fruition. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won this event 50 years ago in Suhaili an unassuming little timber double ender, built in India, making him the first person to single-handedly and unassisted, sail a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. The rest of the fleet either failed to finish, retired or died in the attempt.

Saint Mawes Sailing Club hosted a cocktail party at which a small crowd of people we introduced to the participants and Sir Robin presented each of the competitors with a fruitcake, not to be consumed before rounding Cape Horn. Cape Cake. This was a fun evening and we were lucky enough to score an entry and mingle with the intrepid and interesting sailors and their support crews.

For two days prior to departure, the organizers hosted open days and the public were able to visit the docks for a closer inspection of the yachts. For those lucky few of us, we were also able to see inside the boats for a first-hand look at the inner workings.

And I have to say there was not much. These are all old boats, with the exception of Abilash Tomys boat which is a replica of Suhaili, purpose built in India for the race. They're all full keel boats designed before 1988. They were bursting at their little seams with food and supplies for the adventure. There seemed to be little room for the occupant but no doubt as time passes the interiors will empty out. They will never be spacious though.

We will be watching the website at for updates and news as the fleet countdown to the start in Les Sables-d'Olonne France on the 1st of July.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of

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