Golden Globe Race. The emotion of the big departure for the 16 skippers

Startline, seconds before the Go!

Les Sables d’Olonne lived this Sunday in unison with the 16 skippers at the start of the second edition of the Golden Globe Race, the non-stop solo race on old sailboats from 10 to 11 meters without technology and without assistance. 9 months of total isolation await the skippers who are much better prepared than during the first edition.

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The Sablais were present to greet the competitors of the GGR during the two weeks of the village of the race presenting some animations and a beautiful exhibition of models – which welcomed 5000 visitors per day. Thousands of people along the mythical channel of Les Sables d’Olonne greeted the classic and historic yachts, the competitors of the Golden Globe Race, the traditional Olonnois and the yachtsmen who marched towards the starting line.

On the pontoons you could meet families and friends as well as some Vendée Globe skippers like Vincent Riou or Kevin Escoffier who came to greet the departure of Damien Guillou, skipper of PRB. VDH winner of the last edition could not miss the start and encouraged each competitor alongside Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, Don Mac Intyre and Yannicl Moreau Maire des Sables.
For 2 weeks, in Les Sables d’Olonne, the Village of the Golden Globe Race has been a big popular party. Today, there were thousands of us gathered on the quays to encourage the skippers and communicate to them the strength of the Sands and Vendée spirit. What an emotion to see these adventurers go up our mythical channel; a new chapter in the history of ocean racing has opened in Les Sables d’Olonne.”

“Seeing the sailors depart from the marina was a mixture of excitement, humility and electricity. We were all caught up in a whirlwind of emotions. Imagining the joys and sorrows these sailors and dreamers will experience in the months to come was difficult.” said Don McIntyre, President and Founder of the race.

The skippers were ready after years of preparation, it was time to go! The wet start line between the Swan 55 Galiana and the Esprit d’Équipe of Sablais skipper Lionel Régnier, participants in the Ocean Globe Race. On the Guépard building, a training ship for the French Navy sponsored by the town of Les Sables d’Olonne, the start was given by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, accompanied by Mayor Yannick Moreau and the founder of the GGR Don McIntyre,

It was the Briton Simon Curwen who crossed the line in first position, followed shortly after by the Frenchman Damien Guillou on PRB, joined by Kirsten Neuschäfer. The trio that had led the Prologue from Gijón quickly took the lead of the fleet towards Cape Finisterre, 350 miles south-west of Les Sables d’Olonne, which they should pass in 3 to 4 days.

Bitannic Minister Simon Curwen (UK) aboard his Biscay 36 “Clara”,had the best start of the day!

The former minister, the former Figaro sailor and the long-distance sailor who had all dominated the Gijón Prologue in mid-August will be keen to set a steady pace for the rest of the fleet in the first hours of the race to implement their respective strategies which should lead them to look for the depression to the west before descending to the Cape Finisterre DST. Strong headwinds, avoidance of coastal traffic and possible interactions with killer whales along the Galician coasts are some of the challenges ahead.

Popular local sailor Arnaud Gaist crossed the line a minute too early and nearly crossed the line as requested by the committee. There will be implications later but which should not change the face of the race for the smallest sailboat in the race.

Christian Dumard, the meteorologist of legendary races such as the Vendée Globe, the Volvo Ocean Race or the Mini Transat, shares his analysis:

The conditions for the first days of racing will be tough. After a start in good conditions, the depression which is located at West of the Celtic Sea will bring sustained Southwesterly winds. It will be followed at the end of next week by the remnants of Cyclone Danielle which formed in the middle of the Atlantic. It is therefore in a dominant South-West to West flow that the competitors will be sailing as far as Cape Finisterre, then probably as far as the latitude of Lisbon. The sea will be formed with waves that can reach 4 meters. They can then hope to touch the Portuguese trade winds, those famous northerly winds that will allow them to sail downwind towards the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Archipelago. Two options therefore emerge immediately: to the West in the front and heavy weather for skippers who wish to set a strong pace for the rest of the fleet in the first 24 hours, and a route favoring milder weather but more uncertain along the coasts of Asturias and Galicia. This choice, early in the race, could well lead to the first division of the fleet into 2 groups.

The Spaniard Aleix Selles, still waiting for his mast, chose to accompany the fleet while carrying out his jury rig test on his Rustler 36 Onsoro. According to the notice of race, he still has one week to cross the starting line south of Nouch, and benefit from good weather conditions. He is determined and could well add an extra twist to this 2022 edition.

Next meeting with the fleet, Lanzarote!

2022 GGR incoming to date:
1. Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
2. Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII (long keel version)
3. Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36
4. Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36
5. Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale Force 34
6. Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / Rustler 36
7. Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36
8. Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35
9. Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
10. Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32
11. Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
12. Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34
13. Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Biscay 36
14. Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36
15. Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36
16. Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead sloop

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Golden Globe Race. The emotion of the big departure for the 16 skippers