It’s sailing madness season! The Vendee Globe round-the-world race starts on Nov 6th. And so begins the 100-or-so day, semi-annual obsession with pure speed in single-handed offshore sailing. This year’s fleet of crazy racers features above-water foiling boats — similar to hyper-developmental skiffs like the Moth class: 30 knots will be considered average top speeds.
And the word “suffering” will also be considered standard in terms of skippers’ life aboard.
Some bit more sensible yachting minds have come up with an alternative round-the-world race: Called the Golden Globe Race 2018, it is the 50th-anniversary re-running of the original Golden Globe that pioneered the round-the-world-by-yourself vibe back in 1968. Sailing legends Jean-Luc van den Heede and about 30 others are set to shape at the start in two years. Unlike the Vendee, this race operates without complex design rules. Instead, skippers are expected to adhere to the tradition of the boat of the original winner: Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili, pictured in all its un-greyhoundness below.
This race makes a point of prohibiting all whiz-bangery of modern races like the Vendee. If you want music, better start making cassettes. Only production boats, between 32 and 36 feet, with full keels, are allowed. But costs are reasonable: $100,000, and some sweat, can get you on the starting line. Already there is a deep, surprisingly design-savvy discussion out there of all the different types of designs that can qualify.
Our feelings about this race are mixed. On one hand, the organizers have developed a clever way to handicap a diverse fleet, but we wonder, why were boats limited to these lengths. Used 40 footers are about the same cost. And the rules seem to actively exclude any advancement in yacht design in 50 years. There are plenty of wholesome shapes that are probably more seaworthy. Full keel boats are miserable to self-steer.
What is your feeling? Is the Golden Globe 2018 progress, or is yet another race for madmen.