It’s all about the adventure

11 Dec
Abilash Tomy’s replica of Suhaili – now sunk


I have followed the online comments about the rescue of Susie Goodall, some with bemusement and some with disdain. Before I explain let’s recap what happened. Susie Goodall, a 28 year old British sailor was competing in the https://goldengloberace.comGolden Globe Race when her yacht was pitchpoled in the Southern Ocean. The yacht was dismasted and in pretty bad shape and Susie made the decision to seek rescue. Last Friday the Hong Kong registered cargo ship MV Tian Fu came to her aid and using a crane hoisted her off her stricken boat to the safety of the ship. Of the 18 sailors that set out from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on July 1 earlier this year, only seven remain in the race. Eleven sailors have either been rescued or made it to port and some of the competitors are not yet halfway around the world. If truth be told it doesn’t look good for the event and its future and that has many asking whether the race officials should call the race off before someone dies.
So here is my take on this. Each sailor that had the idea to enter the race, that raised the money and made the extraordinary effort that it took to get to the start line knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. No one was coerced, no one was bribed. Nope they signed up willingly and enthusiastically and I think that they should be saluted for their courage and commitment not only to the sport of sailing and of adventure, but to humanity. We need more Susie Goodall’s in this world. We need more people willing to push themselves and the limits as far as possible. New worlds would never have been discovered were it not for the brave seafarers that came before us. Heck, what if Columbus had said that the dangers were too high to take a risk? No, we need more, not fewer people out there pushing toward new horizons and if some of them come a cropper along the way then so be it. Lucking we now live in a modern, civilized society where they can be rescued. It wasn’t that way just a few decades ago. If you were gone you were truly gone.
Susie Goodall being rescued
I admire the concept of the Golden Globe Race, it’s purity and simplicity but I have to wonder if the kinds of boats being used make any sense. In the original Golden Globe Race that took place 50 years ago there was only one finisher; Robin Knox-Johnston aboard his 32 foot Bermudian ketch Suhaili. The rest of the fleet didn’t make it to the finish and that should have been fair warning for anyone entering this most recent race. Odds were pretty good that you were not going to make it around the world. So far there have been five dismasting and three rescues and most of the fleet are just over halfway around. There are a lot of potholes between where they are and the finish in France. The thing about these boats is that when you are sailing in big seas like those found in the Southern Ocean speed is your friend and these full keel boats are dog slow. Furthermore with a full keel and a trim-tab type rudder, if your boat is pushed beam-on to an approaching wave they are not able to respond quick enough, the barn door of a keel sees to that, and you are left sideways at the mercy of whatever the ocean will toss your way.
One other thing to remember is this. The climate has changed a lot over the last few decades and the severity of the storms is increasing and there is simply no arguing that. I remember a time (not so long ago) where you could read the book Ocean Passages for the World and it would describe the best sailing route between major sailing destinations and if you followed the advice from the book it was pretty true to form: no longer. We used Pilot Charts in the early Whitbread Races and they would have wind vectors showing what wind speed and direction you could expect in a certain part of the ocean at a certain time of year but they are no longer accurate. Too much has changed and not for the good. While it’s most definitely a mammoth task to sail a 100-foot trimaran around the world it’s a lot safer than a 30-footer. For starters they can see what weather to expect and get out of the way of bad storms. The Golden Globe sailors are at the mercy of whatever comes their way and even if they saw a massive front approaching their boats are too slow to do anything about it.
The next Golden Globe will take place in  2022. I am sure that there will be plenty of entries despite the damage done to this fleet. I hope that Don McIntyre, the founder and race organizer is able to fashion the next race so that it has the character of the original but is a lot safer. And I hope that Susie Goodall returns.


Jean-Luc van den Heede still leading in his Rustler 36 Matmut
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Brian Hancock – Owner Great Circle Sails

This article was syndicated from Great Circle Sails Blog


  1. jaco

    Of all the people that should call this “race” for what it is (an abomination), Brian, it’s you. You’ve been in the Southern Ocean in a state of the art boat (in its day) with a crew of 10…and you found the conditions to be…what? Do you really think these “adventurers” …”knew exactly what they were getting themselves into”? Is there REALLY a comparison to Columbus (!) here Brian? I hope they all survive and there is a lesson learned before 2022. I hope you call it for what it is before the next go round if there is one…but then again you’ve already got a lot of your rep invested in this joke. Do you really want to promote someone like McIntyre whose only interest is his own self-aggrandizement regardless of the number of bodies left in his wake?
    I stand by my original assessment in February (comment to your 2/9/18 story)

    jaco … February 11, 2018 at 1:07 PM
    A brilliant idea? Really? If these guys don’t survive their trip through the Southern Ocean in the equivalent of an old shoe, you may have second thoughts about wishing you had thought of it.
    Offer enough money and some people will play Russian roulette with a fifty year old revolver.

  2. Jeff

    While climate change is undeniable it seems to me we spend too much time attaching blame and too little time looking for the solutions of how we survive it. One of the ways would be to update the old wind maps, I’m sure we still have predictable patterns they just aren’t the same patterns of 50 years ago. Any species that doesn’t adapt to it’s environment eventually dies out.

  3. Kenneth E Simon Sr

    I also agree 100%. If you’ve got the will and the means, go for it. I’m sure you knew that Knox-Johnston was the only finisher in the original race because Bernard Moitessier chose to keep sailing instead of finishing. I forget the details, but he may have even been in position to win before he decided to keep heading east instead of up the Atlantic. For this reason Moitessier is just as deserving of admiration as Knox-Johnston, maybe even more so.

  4. Jorgen

    In the bad old days you had circus artists dangling on tightropes and most of the attending were secretly hoping for somebody to fall. That would add to the attraction and give you more to talk about your friends about. LOOK THERE WERE BLOOD ALL OVER. on. I am afraid this race (how ever grand it’s history) has fallen into. Sad but true.

  5. Michael Thomson

    As usual, a very good commentary on the race. I too love the basic concept of the race, but a few changes are in order that won’t compromise the “adventure “ just improve the safety.

  6. Kim Marc

    Brian, I catch your point about manouvering away from bad weather with speed, but I thought the whole thing with Sir Robin Knox-J ‘s boat Suhaili was that it was a slow, sure turtle of a boat with full keel? And it leaked so badly that he had to strap himself to the hull and go under and put putty between the planks midway about in the Indian ocean? He finished first not because he was fast, but because Montessori didn’t want to and took another half globe jaunt to Polynesia? And with out the instruments of Whitbread, what’s the point of too much speed; you will likely head right in the middle of the storm avec vitesse? Johnston won because he was slow, sure, and steady. No fanciful airs, just shear determination and at peace and one with the sea.

  7. Bob Beger

    I can never express how pleased I am to see Susie Goodall hoisted off her boat and into security.
    What a gutsy lady Susie has to be and an inspiration to all that grab ahold of a tiller.
    Susie, do return and next time, show us what an absolute winner is, even though I already consider you in that category. You know that’s you.
    I wish you speed off your rescue ship and into the arms of those that personally love you.
    Bob Beger

  8. Charles McDougall

    I read the requirements for boat size and list of other`s what seemed to me, risky. While I came away thinking “they intend to closely mimic the original boats and equipment “, of 50 year’s ago. I’ve been following here, (not on the news), the points you make for the changes in weather patterns, are on the money!!! Hopefully, the next race will heed to the obvious and rather than try to duplicate a memory, make a new one. With safety paramount.

  9. Laurence Brown

    I agree with you totally 100%. There needs to be a new standard set for the minimum requirements for the boats that reflects our new technologies and current knowledge! It can be done and the GG can continue to inspire countless youth as the original has done.

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