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 is the only skipper in the 2022 Golden Globe Race to be sailing around the world in a boat which he also lives aboard full time.

The long keel Barbican 33 MkII, Hermès Phoning was designed by Maurice Griffiths, and is cutter rigged, and Gaist has lived on the yacht since 2017.

The 50-year-old Frenchman taught himself to sail after reading The LongWay by Bernard Moitessier. He further honed his skills via the works of Joshua Slocum and Vito Dumas.

Originally he was a photographer living in Paris, but abandoned his career for sailing.

At 23, he completed his first solo transatlantic voyage aboard a 25ft yacht, without any engine, liferaft or technology.

Since then he has sailed solo more than 10,000 miles. He has been preparing for the 2022 Golden Globe Race for the last four years.

Arnaud Gaist is from the Vendée region. His is passionate about food, and is planning to cook his meals, rather than relying on freeze dried food; he will also be baking his own bread while racing.

A Barbican 33 Mk 2 sailing

Arnaud Gaist has lived aboard his boat since 2017. Credit: B. Gergaud

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.

Golden Globe Race skipper Arnaud Gaist cooking onboard his boat

Some skippers are planning on eating freeze-dried food but not Arnaud Gaist. The French skipper plans to cook every day and make his own bread while taking part in the race. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

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.

Like 12 of the other skippers in the race, Arnaud Gaist has installed a Hydrovane self-steering system on his boat. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

Like 12 of the other skippers in the race, Arnaud has installed a Hydrovane self-steering system on his boat. Credit: Nora Havel/GGR

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

A skipper in a black tshirt and the bow of his boat

Arnaud plans to paint during the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and will be taking his grandfather’s old wooden fishing tackle box, which are filled with his paints and brushes. Credit: Fabien Laine

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.

Students at the Eric Tabarly School in Les Sables d'Olonne helped prepare the boat for the race. Credit: B. Gergaud

Students at the Eric Tabarly School in Les Sables d’Olonne helped prepare the boat for the race. Credit: B. Gergaud

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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