Golden Globe Race 2018

The Golden Globe Race 2018

In 5 days time 18 sailors will leave Les Sables-d’Olonne in western France to circumnavigate the globe.  A journey of 30,000 nautical miles, they must travel alone, non-stop and without any outside assistance, that is to say without any modern technology or the benefit of satellite-based navigation equipment.  As if that wasn’t challenging enough they have to sail in a similar vessel to those that took part in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race some 50 years ago.

The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race

The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 1968-1969 was the first round the world yacht race.  It was a very controversial race, of the 9 yachtsmen that took part only one finished the race, our very own Robin Knox-Johnson.  To celebrate his achievement of becoming the first solo yachtsman to circumnavigate the world, the Golden Globe Race was born.


Today’s skippers will have a very different challenge to the other skippers that compete in the many circumnavigation yacht races that are so popular today.  Without the use of electronic navigation aids and instruments, (yes that’s right, no computers, GPS or satellite phones here) they will be using a sextant and paper charts to navigate a route around the 5 great capes.  They will have to become expert on reading the weather, no shore-based reports for them and all communication with the outside world will be very limited with only occasional calls to loved ones via long-range high-frequency radios.


The boats that are allowed to race in the Golden Globe Race 2018 are a world away from the IMOCA foil-equipped 60 foot monsters we now see Alex Thompson racing in the Vendee Globe Race.  He has 60ft of ocean protection just ladened with safety and survival equipment.  In the Golden Globe race the skippers can only bring along production yachts with a length of between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 – 10.97m).  They must have been designed prior to 1988 and their keel must be full-length with the rudder attached to their trailing edge.   That’s half the size of the boat that Alex uses for his keel walks and without an ounce of carbon fibre in sight.


The record for a solo circumnavigation of the world currently stands at 42 Days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.   This was set by French skipper François Gabart aboard his 100-foot trimaran in December 2017.  Armel Le Cleac’h holds the record for sailing solo around the world in a monohull.  He made it in 74 days and 35 minutes whilst taking part on the Vendee Globe Race 2016/2017.  Sunday’s competitors are looking at around 300 days at sea.  Can you even begin to comprehend the amount of provisioning that is going to be required.

More Information

For more information on the Golden Globe Race 2018 visit the race site.  There is a live tracking system on the site so we can follow the brave skippers as they race around the world.

If you want to know more about the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race a good book to start with is “A Voyage for Madmen” by Peter Nichols.  A cracking read, I would thoroughly recommend this book even for those with less salt in their veins.  It tells the story of the events of the inaugural race.

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