The Golden Globe Race 2018 will now start from Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée, after event organisers failed to secure financial backing for a UK start

Organisers of the 2018 Golden Globe Race announced yesterday (4 Oct) that the event will now start from Les Sables d’Olonne. The race will see up to 30 skippers will sail single-handed around the world without the aid of modern technology. The event was intended to be a recreation of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, in which Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation.

The move follows two previous announcements of the start city. Initially Falmouth and then Plymouth were due to host the event, but the cost of supporting the event became prohibitive amidst government budget cuts. Sponsors were also reluctant to spend money in the UK while uncertainty around Brexit continues. Spokesman Barry Pickthall explained:

‘We had major sponsors lined up, but no one knows what is happening with Brexit  and because of that uncertainty no one wants to spend money. We are by no means the only sporting event affected by this. We feel that we exhausted every avenue before making this decision.

‘In contrast, Les Sables d’Olonne were ready and willing to offer significant amounts of support for the start and the build up and had sponsors lined up to help pay for the event.’

The value of the support that Les Sables d’Olonne is providing to the event is estimated to be around €1 million.

The event, which is estimated to cost around £4million to run, if all additional support is given, will include daily press releases from race organisers, online tracking of competitors, TV coverage of the start and at the main gates on the race course, as well as a six or eight part documentary of the event.

2018 Golden Globe Race

The Vancouver 32 is one of just 13 designs thought by the organiser to be eligible for the 2018 Golden Globe Race

At a press conference held in Les Sables d’Olonne today, Yannick Moreau, President of the Sables d’Olonne Agglomeration said:

‘The port of Les Sables d’Olonne, home of the Vendée Globe, is happy to welcome the ‘Golden Globe Race’, the father of all the solo round the world events, a pure race that places man and not the machine at the heart of this maritime adventure. The Golden Globe Race 2018 could not have chosen a better port in Europe to organize the start and finish of such a legendary race which has attracted so many sailors and adventurers from all over the world. The Sables d’Olonne agglomeration, the city and the Vendée partners will be happy to offer the Vendée Globe channel and public support to these adventurers who will take off from Les Sables on July 1, 2018, 50 years after Knox –Johnston, Bernard Moitessier and their companions on the “long route”. The Golden Globe Race will also be an opportunity for Les Sables d’Olonne to reinforce its popularity with lovers of the sea all around the world. This is a maritime adventure with a capital “A”. Welcome to Les Sables d’Olonne!’

Plans for the Suhaili Falmouth Parade of Sail will still go ahead as a ‘concession’ to the UK. Prior to this, the entire GGR fleet of traditional long-keeled yachts and their skippers will participate in a special Suhaili Parade of Sail in Falmouth, Cornwall on Thursday 14 June to mark the day that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, set out to win the original Golden Globe Race 50 years before.

A map showing the new route of the Golden Globe Race 2018

The 2018 Golden Globe Race course

One of nine entrants, Sir Robin was the solo finisher. Frenchman Bernard Moitessier sailing Joshua, rounded Cape Horn 17 days behind Knox-Johnston, and having the bigger yacht, might have overtaken his English rival. But instead of heading back up the Atlantic in hot pursuit, Moitessier turned east to make a second circumnavigation of the Southern Ocean to ‘Save my soul’ as he put it.

This Parade of Sail, organised by the Falmouth Town Team and Royal Cornwall Yacht Club (where Sir Robin stepped ashore upon his return), promises to be quite a spectacle. Sir Robin, sailing aboard his famous yacht Suhaili, will lead Bernhard Moitessier’s yacht Joshua, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV and Sir Alec Rose’s Lively Lady in a Parade of Sail around Falmouth Harbour saluted by the Golden Globe Race skippers and many other vessels on the day

Don McIntyre, the Race Chairman, said: ‘We thank Plymouth City Council and the Royal Western Yacht Club for all their support, but with less than a year to the start, it became clear that the uncertainties surrounding BREXIT (Britain’s exit from the European Union) has greatly restricted financial opportunities. We are very pleased to be partnering with Les Sables d’Olonne to host the start and finish of the Golden Globe Race and look forward to a great event.

‘It was the original Golden Globe Race of course that seeded the modern Vendee Globe solo non-stop round the world race that starts and finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne, and fitting midway between the four-yearly cycle of the Vendee Globe, the 2018 Golden Globe Race creates real synergy for both events. One is super high tech and commercial while the other is all about human endeavour and Corinthian spirit. Les Sables d’Olonne grasped the GGR opportunity with great enthusiasm and has worked closely with the Organisers to develop a comprehensive support and logistics package. This includes a comprehensive Race Village, Media Centre, Marina Management and co-ordination across the entire region.

‘The Race will be run as before, under the auspices of the Royal Nukuma Yacht Club, and the Race Office will be based in Les Sables d’Olonne for the duration of the event. The official language will be English with French translations. Les Sables d’Olonne will support all finishing yachts and organise the Official finish celebrations. The Race Director will speak French and English with all media dual language.

‘With Les Sables d’Olonne now a lead supporter of the GGR, an Official Presenting Sponsor is being sought along with three Official Partners. Volunteers at the start and within the event organization, make up an important element of the event at a community level. A register of interested volunteers has been started. The French have real passion for events like the GGR and entrants are sure to become heroes to many. The harbour facilities are first class and this new Partnership with Les Sables d’Olonne is a strong endorsement for the Race.’

Competitors will have to navigate and sail using the same equipment available to the original 1968-69 competitors, although they will be equipped with a satellite phone, which has GPS disabled, to provide daily updates and interviews with race control.

Each boat will also include a satellite tracking device, from which the skipper will not be able to access a GPS position.

For safety, they will also carry a sealed box containing a chart plotter and another satellite phone. If they are forced to break into the box, the competitors will be able to continue in the race, but within the ‘Chichester Class” as if they have made one stop.

In keeping with the retro principles of the event, any music they take must be on tape cassette, and filming of their exploits must be on Super 8 film.