Arnaud Gaist has long dreamed of racing in the Golden Globe Race. He shares how he is preparing for his solo, non-stop circumnavigation around the world without modern technology

Arnaud Gaist taught himself to sail at the age of 23, inspired by the works of Bernard Moitessier, Vito Dumas and Joshua Slocum.

The 50-year-old French skipper has a passion for singlehanded sailing, and has already sailed solo across the Atlantic without an engine or modern equipment.

‘I started by reading The LongWay by Moitessier; a year later I bought my 35ft sailboat to go and live at sea. I had no experience, no money and I did all the stupid things possible like running aground in front of the port and hitting a rock,’ he told Yachting Monthly.

‘At the age of 24, I was doing my first solo transatlantic voyage without any technology, without an engine, without a liferaft, without telecommunications, with a 25-foot sailboat authorised to sail only 5 miles from the coast!’

Arnaud, who has sailed 10,000 miles solo, will be taking part in the Golden Globe Race 2022 aboard his long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning.

Designed by former Yachting Monthly editor, Maurice Griffiths, the Barbican is a robust, rather narrow boat. Hermès Phoning is cutter rigged.

He is planning to start his 2,000 mile qualifying passage for the Golden Globe Race in April 2022.

Arnaud Gaist's long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, is also his home

Arnaud Gaist’s long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning, is also his home

Why enter the Golden Globe Race 2022?

Arnaud Gaist: Because I could not participate in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

I have planned to do this course for 25 years.

The kids, the job, my ex-wife plunged me into a maelstrom of much worse trouble than the Golden Globe Race.

The real danger is on the ground, and that’s called dying of boredom. All fathers and mothers have certainly experienced this.

What did you learn from the 2018 Golden Globe Race?

Arnaud Gaist: A lot and a little at the same time.

I’ve been studying it for three to four years and to sum up let’s say that the important thing is the mental preparation and the preparation of the sailboat

How will you cope in heavy weather?

Arnaud Gaist:  You mean survival? With a 25 footer with nothing, without any modern security system, liferaft, beacon or communication, I had the opportunity to believe in God several times. Fortunately once on the ground I no longer believe it.

All the skippers in the Golden Globe Race 2022 will have to navigate using a sextant

All the skippers in the Golden Globe Race 2022 will have to navigate using a sextant

What did you learn from Jean-Luc Van Den Heede‘s victory at the 2018 Golden Globe Race?

Arnaud Gaist: Lots of things, but I keep it to myself. I am a loner.

Why did you choose a Maurice Griffiths Barbican 33 MkII for the 2022 Golden Globe Race?

Arnaud Gaist: Simply because I had it before the Golden Globe Race.

It was my sailboat, my home since 2017. I am not a yachtsman, I am an anarchist who chose the sailboat to be free

How are you preparing the boat for the race?

Arnaud Gaist: Basically, I have done everything myself.

For a few months I had the help of the Eric Tabarly school in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Absolutely everything on the boat has been reviewed, transformed or redone.

Arnaud Gaist will use a Hydrovane self-steering system during the race

Arnaud Gaist will use a Hydrovane self-steering system during the race

What will your sail plan be?

Arnaud Gaist: It will depend on my budget.

At the moment I don’t have a spinnaker. If I have some money left I might have a spinnaker

Are you looking to win or get round?

Arnaud Gaist: Winning does not fit with my philosophy. Winning is way too vulgar and I’m too snobby

Continues below…

For this race there will be no HAM radio transmissions allowed, only a licensed and maritime licensed Single Side Band (SSB) HF radio, with talks limited to Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) weather ). Weather fax will be allowed for the race. Some of the 2018 Golden Globe Race skippers have raised concerns about the GMDSS being picked up in the Southern Ocean. Do you share these concerns?

Arnaud Gaist: I have always made crossings without weather information and without communication. I never mind

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede consulted meteorologists and studied the weather to choose the best route which helped him make early gains in the 2018 race. Do you plan to do the same?

Arnaud Gaist: No

How is your celestial navigation going?

Arnaud Gaist: I’m happy

Arnaud Gaist, 2022 Golden Globe Race skipper

Arnaud taught himself to sail at the age of 23

What windvane steering set up are you planning on using?

Arnaud Gaist: I will be using a Hydrovane. His name is Nanar (for Bernard Moitessier)

What antifouling will you use?

Arnaud Gaist: Top secret!

Are you confident you will be on the start line for 2022?

Arnaud Gaist: Yesssssssss!

Is coping with isolation an issue?

Arnaud Gaist: I have never sailed solo for seven months, but I have for a month-and-a half with no problem.

It’s the return to humanity that is always upsetting

I prefer to be alone.

Arnaud shares Moitessier’s view that by waiting to be fully prepared before leaving, one risks not leaving at all

Arnaud shares Moitessier’s view that by waiting to be fully prepared before leaving, one risks not leaving at all

What will you miss by participating in the race?

Arnaud Gaist: A shower with unlimited fresh water

What treat will you be taking?

Arnaud Gaist: Chocolate and cheese

GGR 2018 was a celebration of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The GGR 2022 is a celebration of Bernard Moitessier. What words of wisdom from Moitessier will you be following in the race?

Arnaud Gaist: ‘C’est le destin qui distribue les carte, mais c’est nous qui les jouons,’ Bernard Moitessier. This translates to: ‘It’s fate that deals the cards, but it’s us who play them.’


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