It was an instant decision for some. For others is evolved after many sleepless nights and came with mixed emotions and uncertainty.
For a few it was pure excitement and anticipation of a dream come true. It was a decision that did and will change their lives forever. They all became part of the 2018 Golden Globe Race.
Today, years later approaching the Southern Ocean, possibly for first time, most will reflect on that time and place. Was it a good idea?
The original 1968 Golden Globe Race was unique at all levels. As an adventure it has huge recall in the memories of both sailors and non-sailors alike. Today, no other event in any sport can match the Golden Globe Race’s unique combination of epic adventure and extreme endurance, traditional values, Maritime heritage, duration and global reach. Above all this, it is just one person in a little boat facing all the Oceans of the world.
World’s best safety equipment and entrant training in survival is an integral part of the risk mitigation for a voyage of this magnitude. EPIRBS and emergency satellite phones are important comfort for entrants seeking help. None of these were available in 1968. Sir Robin was totally alone for most of his voyage. Bernard Moitessier took no communications at all, except for his trusty slingshot to shoot messages onto the deck of passing ships!
So is it easier and safer now than it was in 1968?
You can make up your own mind but imagine this. You have been at sea for three months. It is 2am in the morning, blowing 60-75kts from behind with 12-15mtr breaking seas and it has been like this for three days. Your wind vane is just coping, and little things are going wrong inside your boat. Everything is damp or wet. You are worried about some rigging on the mast. Only a storm jib is set and BANG! You are knocked flat with the mast underwater and Southern Ocean squirting below through the companionway hatch. It is 5 degrees Celsius outside, the Ocean even colder and wind chill ridiculous. You must get out and check. The motion is violent! You have not had a good weather forecast for a week and the Barometer has started to fall again. This may happen to many entrants in this GGR.
It is not the same today as it was in 1968. It is NOT much different either! Entrants know that if they had to abandon ship in these conditions, that EPIRB and satellite phone can do little to help! You are totally alone and in a world of your own, just as Sir Robin was. When it is just YOU, it is very personal!
NOT about the tracker, winners or leader board! #GGR2018
Yesterday returning after a few days off the air and out of the office, I experienced a strong impression of change in the fleet when I check in again on entrants. So instead of a blow by blow on latest tracker positions and who has made progress up or down the leader board etc the real story is the entrants, their attitude and emotions.
I am a bit lucky as I see it all as it happens. We actually talk to them on the phone during their safety check and monitor all messages. We get feedback from their managers about radio calls. All exciting info we try to get up on GGR Facebook instantly. But it is all in the detail. It builds a picture. It tells you more if you put that into context outside just the Race.
I can tell you now some are starting to wonder why they are doing this. They are having down days. They are starting to question all the things they are missing out on and contemplate what is to come. They all know what is coming.
Loic has no HF radio and each week is more isolated and alone. It shows. He is now starting to ration water. Susie is a strong character and is in the GGR for all the right reasons. She is deep into this adventure and riding that same emotional rollercoaster that you read about in all the books including from the original 1968 Golden Globe. No one can know what she is really going through. But every now and then you see she is both a great sailor and an ordinary human with ordinary emotions. Sometimes we place entrants on a pedestal and think they are doing it easy. This is a tough challenge and hats off to them all. But yes, even Susie has bad days!
Tapio is feeling very low contemplating a stop in Cape Town. It is in his voice. You may ask how do I know? Well, you can just sense it. All the entrants know the tweets and phone calls are going out to you on GGR Sound Cloud, Twitter and Facebook. So just like in ordinary Facebook personal posts we tend to live a FB life… entrants are sometimes trying to put on a happy face! All these entrants are real people with nothing to hide. But it is in the little things that we can see a change.
Ok Captain Coconut and Are Wiig are two guys I will concede are simply having a ball! No questions asked. We feel that too. But spare all the entrants a moment. Talking about leader boards and distance made good all the time and who is winning can make us forget what they are doing and going through The fleet has matured. Some are gone. From me as the organiser, I am happy that all those currently sailing are stronger now than when they left Les Sables d’Olonne. In less than a week the leaders will meet the Southern Ocean. Shortly after so will the rest. There is no way out now. The stakes get very serious very soon! Stand by for honest judgements and what may be real surprises from entrants. Soon you will sense real fear in these voice reports and tweets. Think about that.
The #GGR2018 is more than a race. It is a HUGE adventure, a cultural renaissance like nothing that has gone before, and we are all privileged voyeurs to a special group of real sailors, living a beautiful dream, 24 hrs a day for month after month.