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2018 Golden Globe Race, 3 months to start from Les Sables d'Olonne

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Suhaili
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Suhaili

With 3 months to the start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race from Les Sables d’Olonne on July, 1st the number of entrants now stands at 19 representing 12 countries: France 4, Britain 3, Australia 2, and one each from Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine and Russia.

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Pressures mount on skippers to complete qualifying distances and preparations: it is now a race against time for some of the 19 sailors to complete their boats, jury rig tests, and in one case their solo qualification distance before the fleet gathers in Falmouth on June 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s departure at the start of the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race back in 1968/9. 

The Golden Globe Race fleet will join hundreds of other yachts expected from France and UK in Falmouth Harbour with a sail-past salute to Sir Robin who is busy preparing his yacht Suhaili to celebrate the anniversary. Other historic yachts joining the commemoration include Joshua, Sir Francis Chichester’s famous Gipsy Moth IV (the first to complete a solo one-stop circumnavigation in 1966/7 which led to the Sunday Times race, and Sir Alec Rose’s Lively Lady, which followed Chichester’s route in 1967/8 14th June). Significantly, the 2018 Golden Globe Race will start from a line marked by the historic Golden Globe Race yachts Suhaili and Joshua with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston firing a canon from Suhaili’s foredeck.

One noticeable absentee among the historic yachts scheduled to attend, is Joshua, the yacht that French hero Bernard Moitessier sailed in the same race. Now a national treasure, her movements are strictly controlled and government officials have not given permission for her to sail outside of French waters. None are more disappointed than the ‘Friends of Joshua’, the dedicated group who maintain and sail the yacht as a working museum display in La Rochelle – so much so that they are sailing over in their own boats to join in the celebrations anyway.

For American Carl Huber, who sold his house and just about everything else in the garage to compete, time has already run out. Cost overruns in preparing his Baba 35 Jamma Jeanne have forced him to withdraw in the hope that he can return for the next Golden Globe Race in 2022. Huber had just returned from crossing the Pacific aboard the famous New Zealand maxi yacht Ceramco NZ, to meet the strict 8,000 mile general sailing experience each competitor must have under their belt, only to find the escalating costs involved in repowering and rigging Jamma Jeanne had exceeded all expectations. “I’ve been holding out for a miraculous event but none was forthcoming and am now very reluctantly and painfully conceding.” He says, adding: “I consider the 2018 event to be very unique and continue to support the vision and the race. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Race Founder Don McIntyre and his team and reserve judgment on 2022.”

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