The latest rescue of British yachtswoman Susie Goodall from her dismasted yacht DHL Starlight after being pitch poled during a storm some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn earlier this week has led some to wonder if the event safe? Should the Golden Globe Race be stopped after five boats dismasted and three rescues?
This forgoes the simplest fact that the master of any vessel at any time can return to any port and give up on any voyage. HE/SHE CONTROLS THEIR OWN DESTINY. Whatever the organizers of the Golden Globe should do, I can assure you that it will not impact on any sailors currently at sea. They would carry on. They love it. Without exception, every GGR skipper is a very experienced mariner aboard a well-prepared yacht who volunteered for this challenge with spirit and enthusiasm.
They are not there for the money, nor the fame. They are there to challenge themselves and seek adventure. Adventure has risk and has by its very nature an unknown outcome. Without Adventure, or those who are prepared to push themselves, the world is worse off. The issue is one of responsible adventure and the 2018 Golden Globe Races is very definitely just that.
Consider Susie Goodall. She is a highly qualified professional skipper with vast ocean experience. She is sailing a yacht built and prepared by a boat builder considered one of the best in the World. Her mast and rigging were designed and built by one of the biggest and best in the world, with full understanding of the challenges and expectation of knockdowns and rollovers. This is part of the reality. Susie’s safety gear, training and risk minimization process carried out under the GGR Notice of Race is exceptional and to the highest standard. The French Maritime Administration even declared that the GGR Notice of Race was THE BEST they have seen for ANY yachting event in all of France.
The challenge is very simple and pure. To sail solo around the world in a small seaworthy boat. People have been doing it for over 50 years. Young and old like David Dix, Jon Saunders, Jesse Martin, Jessica Watson, Vito Dumas, Minoru Saito, Kay Cottee, and of course, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation 50 years ago.
Ordinary sailors around the world with ordinary boats who sail oceans for the very same reasons, are watching, listening and learning from the GGR like it has never been done before. So too are future entrants in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and there are many! So too are the organizers of the Golden Globe.
Sir Robin Knox Johnston is currently undertaking a comprehensive investigation into all issues surrounding the storm tactics of GGR entrants, rig designs and the events that have led to dismasting’s and three rescues in the Race. This very thorough report is widely anticipated and will be released at the conclusion of the Golden Globe Race.
As Founder of the GGR, I too am surprised at the outcome of some of these storms and dismasting that have resulted. It is an incredible challenge. Some may ask what is the point of continuing? The answer is very simple. No one should ever and can never kill off the human Spirit of Adventure. Adventure is inherent in our makeup. How often do you see the word ADVENTURE on TV, the side of a bus, and advertising billboards? Adventure is the very essence of a full life.
There may be some who do not understand the ethos, or the facts behind this amazing cultural renascence in sailing that is the Golden Globe. Some may say it is unsafe because these GGR skippers are not competing in fast foiling 60ft yachts and multihulls. You need only look at the results of the recent Route du Rum solo transatlantic race where 35% of the fleet was knocked out after just one storm to see that they are missing the point. Modern designs, latest composite construction, and satellite technology did not stop these boats from breaking up, being dismasted or being rescued.
There is nothing wrong with slower well-found yachts, traditional navigation techniques and high safety standards that ARE the Golden Globe Race.
The GGR is real life with real sailors in real boats. Boats, masts, sailors have been lost in all around the world races including the Volvo, Vendee Globe, Clipper, Whitbread and BOC Challenge races. These events are all adventures with young and old, men and women living their dreams that inspire others to follow in their wake. By any definition, the Golden Globe is tough, if not the TOUGHEST of them all.
Whilst we are all saddened by Susie having to abandon her boat and her ambition, and very appreciative and humbled by the efforts that many people, agencies and companies are making to bring her safely home, the GGR will continue. The support from ordinary sailors around the world is HUGE, passionate and growing every day! It is still a long way to the finish. Anything can happen. Only one boat finished in the first Sunday Times Golden Globe race 50 years ago. That is what adventure is all about. The 2018 Golden Globe Race is a very responsible one. The 2022 edition will be even more so.