Golden Globe Race: 16 sailors embark on a sailing trip around the world lasting more than 200 days

This Sunday will sound the 21 cannon shots symbols of the start of the Golden Globe Race. This race consists of a solo sailing trip around the world, where sailors must cover more than 55,000 kilometers in more than 200 days.

Around the world in 200 days. This is what awaits the 16 sailors of the Golden Globe Racea race consisting of traveling the entire planet at the sail, over 55,000 kilometers, without modern navigation instruments. The boats were all built before 1988.

By tradition, 21 cannon shots will be fired at Les Sables-d’Olonne (Vendee) this Sunday, marking the symbolic start of the event. Then, around 4 p.m., the official kick-off will be given from the Cheetah by the winner of the 1968 Golden Globe Challenge, Robin Knox-Johnson.

“Even astronauts don’t have this opportunity”

The Golden Globe Race remains a real challenge. Of the 27 participants in 2018, only six had finished. Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede had created the feat by winning, at the age of 73, the race in 211 days, 23 hours and 12 minutes, on a Rustler 36, a boat just under eleven meters long.

“It’s the experience of a lifetime. First, because it’s the longest race, but also because we’re going to have an almost total breakdown in communication for several months. Even astronauts don’t have this opportunity”, testifies Damien Guillou, who will also sail aboard a Rustler 36. With Arnaud Gaist, they are the two Frenchmen to take the start.

On board the monohulls, there will be almost no modern machinery. Only a position beacon and an emergency phone to communicate with the race organization are authorized. Navigation is therefore done by sextant, maps, compasses and its sense of orientation.

“You have to have a particular mindset. You have almost no information on your family, on the other competitors, on what is happening in the world. If you don’t know how to be happy alone offshore, you can go crazy,” explains Abhilash Tomy, who had already tried the challenge in 2018.

In addition to survival equipment, some therefore carry something to entertain themselves in their solitude. For the South African Kirsten Neuschäfer, it’s a novel, “so I can escape from my own thoughts”. The American Guy Deboer took 200 cigars, almost one per theoretical day of navigation.

Among the favourites, the names that come up most often are the Frenchman Damien Guillou and the Briton Simon Curwen. But in an event where the slightest damage can be fatal, the game of predictions is more or less impossible. Answer in seven months, still in Sables-d’Olonne.

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Golden Globe Race: 16 sailors embark on a sailing trip around the world lasting more than 200 days