Years ago, during a fast-moving light conversation with my fiend JEAN-LUC VAN DEN HEEDE, he declared through his distinctive laugh that it will be fun to live the Golden Globe life in these PETIT ESCARGOT! I smiled. This week for the first time I hear our fleet described with affection, as LITTLE TURTLES! I smile again. But is that fair?
What these GGR yachts are not, is the typical foiling IMOCA flyers (we love watching), nor Volvo machines with their personal Niagara for the after guard (we would not sail). They’re not even your ordinary fast racing boat. So what are they? Well the short answer is, great ocean-going boats and perfect Golden Globe Racing yachts. Designed before 1988 is OLD. Seven to nine ton is HEAVY. Full keels are SLOW. Focus group reviews on the GGR concept years ago had sailors laughing at the idea of racing them full stop! Now most understand and it’s cool. Not for all, but they’re OK.
If I had to choose one thing that was driving people to follow the GGR, other than strong heritage, real characters and pure adventure, it would be the boats. Sailors relate to them. They are particularly ordinary. They imagine themselves in one. Sure they’re recycled and not fantastic plastic and yes, a Beneteau is a fine boat. But if I wanted to sail solo around the world on a budget, or on any ocean any time with my partner, a GGR type boat is very much the way to go and people are beginning to see that.
The GGR is a tough proving ground and already, looking at the retirements (there have been a few), it’s not the boats that fail. That title belongs to the skippers, wind vanes and one nasty wave!
Is the Rustler 36 so much better that it belongs in the lead? Not really. JL VDH and his magic sure deserves to be right where he is, out front. His boat helps, nothing more. He is the perfect blend of age, experience, discipline and talent supported by a very well-prepared boat. This Rustler 36 idea as the winning boat may be rewritten in 2022. Already a Vancouver 34 and Cape Dory 36 are lining up. On paper they can pass a Rustler 36. But what about their captains and preparation and reason? It is a complex formula and only time can tell.
SUHAILI was never going to get anywhere in this 2018 GGR, so some thought. That replica was a great idea, a beautiful piece of nostalgia nothing more! But wait. After 74 days he has four Rustler 36’s behind him and is closing the leaders fast, just one boat and half day away from a podium position. Impossible but true. Why? Not just the boat.
It is certainly NOT the luck of the Irish or the colour of the hull that has a Biscay 36 hunting down the two lead Rustlers. He will probably get one in the next few days and run second overall. A great boat for sure, but again it is the total package, not sleep patterns, nor sail shape alone. Thinking hard and smart at the planning stage is as critical as catching enough rain.
They say resale values of Rustlers went up 10% because of the GGR. If that is the case Biscay 36’s should be headed North. With construction moulds resurrected new builds are possible. This week a sailor asked for a replica of the GGR replica SUHAILI to be built for him. It is a beautiful boat, so why not!
Esmeralda is OK for Endurance 35 fans and there are many around the world watching! More have entered GGR 2022 already. The Tradewind 35 is possibly the most comfortable liveaboard ocean sailing boat in the fleet. The Nicholson 32 MKX the best value ocean voyager around.
So, TURTLES or SNAILS what is it to be? Who cares! They are simply great boats. They race the GGR as a fleet with all the colour, adventure and drama that the human spirit can ever imagine. I am proud of them all. They have proven the concept. Affordable long distance around the world competitive racing is not only possible, it is now. These yachts show the world that little boats are capable, and age is just a number. They show the average sailor they can follow their dreams beyond the horizon.
The Golden Globe is available to any sensible sailor who understands that magic formula of planning, preparation and execution. ANYONE CAN WIN IN ANY BOAT. Come back again in 2022 on the same boat and you are still competitive! Think about that. You could even take a cruise to French Polynesia while you are waiting. That’s the kind of boat they are.
Keep your heart young and your expectations high and never allow your dreams to die!
Petit ESCARGOT is kinda cute though hey!!