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How safe is safe? Imagine it!

It’s been a fast three weeks since last offering my thoughts here. Long days, high emotion and real adventure. My energy has been drawn elsewhere but now I am back.

The first and only rescue of the GGR so far must rate as being as big as it gets. A multinational effort to rescue an injured sailor, as far from anywhere as you can be! They come no better. A true credit to all involved and we offer our heartfelt humble thanks.

Even media reports were responsible. For the first time since I can remember, compared to other RTW races, GGR missed the headline… ‘WHO PAYS FOR THE RESCUE’. People seem to understand this was an experienced sailor, in a good boat, on a responsible adventure. He had planned for everything. The game changer was serious injury. If he had not been injured, ABHILASH TOMY would be sailing to Australia right now under a jury rig. So too GREGOR MCGUKIN who made the difficult and seamanlike decision to grab a lift home, simply because he could or should. In the future if he had a problem, some may question why he did not?

ABHILASH is recovering after surgery and GREGOR returns to Ireland on Monday. The response by some has been interesting. A GGR2022 entrant retired after the storm. His opinion now… you cannot make these boats safe any more! Better now than later as he may not have finished a GGR anyway. On the other side interest in entering the 2022 GGR has increased post the BIG storm.

Many of those who once thought the GGR was reckless, full of dreamers and old people have now changed their mind. Information and example have shown that old is just a number. These sailors are instead champions and dreamers with serious intent and care for detail doing amazing things. They grab life in all it’s dimensions with full vigor. What better example can you ask of any human.

The GGR is different from any other sailing race around the world and people are starting to like it. Our fan base grows rapidly as they become passionate fans and part of the GGR family. This is brutally honest adventure, played out by real people engaged in an epic struggle against time, isolation and the Ocean. They are coping in different ways. We watch as they overcome monumental hurdles struggling to keep it all together. These stories big and small are intriguing. The colour is immense.

The task of passing this story to you is left to me and my small team. Even for us it gets emotional. You tell us so often our stores are compelling, human and real. Yes it’s true. THANKS! In life the term HERO is thrown around often, but GGR entrants truly are, in their own way. These men and woman out there right now are surely inspiring.

Strangely some are still confused. When a sailing commentator suggested a GGR entrant had only one damaged sat phone, when the reality is that he has two sat phones, plus two satellite texting units, and a prominent French sailing magazine suggests GGR has no Race Director, when it has and always will. Another suggested GGR yachts had Hobie Cat rigs. (They were actually designed and built by the best in the business for the Southern Ocean). I wonder why? One phone call and we could have told them the facts.

When in the same commentary it is suggested that safety has moved on in 50 years and our slow GGR boats are dangerous, unable to move away from bad weather, I think they are missing the point. Sure a 60ft foiler glides easily at 25kts around bad weather using colorful satellite screens and in the future Artificial intelligence leading the way. But does that mean you must or can only solo circumnavigate in a Multimillion Dollar boat to be safe! Not in my lifetime that is certain!

How safe is safe when at 25kts you hit a whale? How safe is safe when you lose your mast extreme sailing at 25kts spray flying everywhere? How safe is safe when sadly 10 years ago in the same place as ABHILASH TOMY, a Vendee Globe skipper was seriously injured, incapacitated and needed a similar extreme rescue. GGR yachts are AS SAFE AS ANY OTHER. The ocean is unsafe, and we know that. It draws us in as all adventures do.

Nothing in this world compares to the challenge of the Golden Globe in a small boat, on a big ocean, over 240 days, in total isolation. Not the Vendee Globe, not the Volvo, not the Clipper Race nor anything planned in the future. Only the original 1968 Golden Globe is comparable. The GGR stands alone in the high tech fast world we live in.

When VITO DUMAS set out from Buenos Aires to circumnavigate the world solo via the great capes on 27th June 1942, in the middle of winter, his boat LEHG II was just 31ft long. It was a SAFE BOAT. When my Australian friends Jon SaundersDavid DixJessie Martin and Jessica Watson all set out on six successful non-stop solo circumnavigations, they were in little S&S 34 yachts. When Australian Kay Cottee became the first woman ever to complete a solo non-stop unassisted circumnavigation in 1988, she sailed in a boat basically the same size as a Rustler 36. They were all SAFE BOATS.

The power of imagination

We receive many emails, messages and comments every day from GGR family around the world about their involvement and passion for this adventure. A few days ago I received the following from Anders in Denmark. It mentions one of our great objectives with the GGR when planning started four years ago. The power to excite people’s imagination as it used to be 50 years ago. Many comments mention this fact. It is the very same reason audio book sales are going crazy around the world. People have discovered the joy and experience of closing their eyes for a change and really thinking about it.

Dear Don and team

Just a quick little email greeting from Denmark with the warmest complements of your race handling and setup.

After following the event loosely over the past year or two, and quite closely over the past month, I have recently found that the skippers of the GGR are now entering my dreams at night in an extremely vivid way. I have followed ocean races before, but to my mind absolutely nothing compares to the GGR as a spectator sport. My interpretation is that the slowness of it and the lack of imagery facilitates my own imagination much much more than dramatic clips of VOR-boats in high seas, or the fancy media coverage of Olympic sailing, America’s Cup etc. etc..

It’s not just the relatability of these real-life sailors driving boats very similar to what is handled by average sailors. I believe it is the distancing and remediation of the vintage setup forcing me to make my own interpretation undigested by satellite images, 3D-modelling and other hi-tech gizmos digesting the experience. I learn so much more from following the GGR than from any other event.

Much of this comes down of cause to you and your team’s media handling which is no less than extraordinary in many ways. Not least (from a viewer’s perspective) in terms of willingness to share personal opinions, observations and all of these small and big observations around the race and the preparations. As a spectator it puts us mentally right in the race committee office with you. That is a new and very different experience. I have assisted in multiple regatta events, nationally and a few international, laying courses, taking finishing times, starting races, and done a bit of competing. But not even on the water in committee boats have I felt this engaged in a race in which I do not myself participate.

Dissertations in media studies could and should be written about this event. It is absolutely phenomenal!

Just a humble thank you… All the best… Anders



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