Les Sables D’Olonne: The Golden Globe race

It’s lengthy, lonely, gradual and daring. That is the Golden Globe Around the World Yacht Race and I’m in Les Sable d’Olonne on the Atlantic Coast, within the Vendee area of France to witness the beginning.

The Golden Globe yachts lined up on the pontoon - Les Sables D'Olonne

The Golden Globe yachts lined up on the pontoon – Les Sables D’Olonne

 Like the unique Sunday Occasions occasion, held in 1968, the Golden Globe Race may be very easy, depart from Les Sables d’Olonne on September fourth 2022 and sail solo, continuous 30,000 miles around the globe, by way of the 5 nice capes, alone and with no outdoors help and return to Les Sables d’Olonne. 

The 16 courageous skippers collaborating within the race are restricted to crusing related yachts used within the unique race; these aren’t any technically superior superyachts however boats between 32 and 36 toes in size.  The skippers should additionally sail with out fashionable expertise or the good thing about satellite-based navigation aids, taking them again to a time referred to as the ‘golden age’ of solo crusing. 

Believed to be a ‘voyage for madmen’ when it was first introduced, the primary Golden Globe Race was held in 1968-69 and was sponsored by the Sunday Occasions, initially, it was regarded as an unimaginable feat.

9 set out, together with then novice sailor Chay Blyth, his former Atlantic rowing companion John Ridgway, French sailor Bernard Moitessier, eventual winner crusing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and the ill-fated ‘weekend sailor’ Donald Crowhurst, who gave his life whereas attempting to realize what no-one had performed earlier than. 

Peope line the harbour partitions to wave of the skippers at first of The Golden Globe Rac

The true story of the latter’s disastrous try was just lately made into a movie “The Mercy” starring Colin Firth within the position of Donald Crowhurst.  The race nurtured the likes of the Whitbread Around the World Race, BOC Problem and the Vendee Globe and was held once more in 2018, with the present race being the third version.

We meet the 16 skippers confirmed with their boats bedecked with flags lined up on the pontoon. 4 of them are from the UK, Kirsten Neuschafer representing South Africa are the one girls collaborating within the race, while sometimes Eire’s solely entrant Pat Lawless is among the race’s massive characters with a big household contingent singing him off with Irish sea shanties. 

Regardless of the mammoth voyage forward (and that they in all probability received’t be stepping on land once more for an additional 9 months), the skippers are all very relaxed, there’s an excellent social ambiance, and it’s a beautiful time to be within the port.

For the weeks earlier than the race, an particularly constructed ocean village is filled with occasions across the race and its skippers, you possibly can study to navigate with the celebs and devices of the previous, climb a mast, study concerning the earlier two races and social gathering the evening away at numerous night live shows. 

Traditional boats setting out to accompany the skippers at the start of The Golden Globe Yacht Race

Conventional boats getting down to accompany the skippers at first of The Golden Globe Yacht Race

On the day of the race’s precise begin, the entire city is seemingly lined up on the harbour partitions to wave the sailors off, with small conventional crusing boats accompanying the boats out to sea. 

It was a privilege to be a part of such a singular event. Though The Golden Globe Race is much less well-known than the extra well-known Vendee Globe, the “Everest of the Seas”, it was a really memorable time to be on the town with a way more intimate and pleasant ambiance. 

With simply 16 skippers, having met all of them, I felt that I had a way more vested curiosity within the race and their unimaginable journey forward.   


The following Golden Globe Race can be in 2026, while the Vendee Globe departs on November 20th, 2024.

Extra information: The Golden Globe Race

Fly: Easyjet flies to Nantes



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