Yachting Monthly - - VIEW FROM THE HELM -

Un­re­mark­able in any other con­text, the boats lin­ing up for the start of the Golden Globe Race in July were, by their pres­ence in Les Sables-d’olonne, quite ex­tra­or­di­nary. Head­ing off to cir­cum­nav­i­gate non-stop, to­tally alone for close to nine months, the skip­pers who com­plete their global cir­cuit, and even those that don’t, will have achieved a heroic feat of en­durance.

But isn’t this yet another race, just with a his­tor­i­cal quirk? I don’t be­lieve it is. Watch­ing the boats de­part, Sir Robin Knox-john­ston re­marked, ‘This is bring­ing sail­ing back to where it should be, ac­ces­si­ble to the av­er­age sailor.’ I doubt many of us are ever go­ing to sail in these skip­pers’ wakes, but that’s not the point. The point is that you could at least imag­ine do­ing so.

Un­like the Vendée Globe’s gi­ant Open 60s fur­ther down the pon­toon, any pro­fi­cient sailor could step onto a Golden Globe boat and know what to do. It cer­tainly caught my imag­i­na­tion, and that of the thou­sands of spec­ta­tors turn­ing out to watch them go. The emo­tion of the spec­ta­cle was all the more pal­pa­ble be­cause it was easy to iden­tify with the sailors bid­ding farewell to their loved ones.

Many were dis­ap­pointed that an orig­i­nally Bri­tish event had gone abroad. It was, how­ever, held in the right place. The or­gan­is­ers found that there sim­ply wasn’t the pas­sion to host the event in the UK, while the French em­braced it with open arms, an open cheque book, and an army of ea­ger vol­un­teers (p20) and an en­thu­si­as­tic pub­lic. So how do we spread that level of en­gage­ment on this side of the Chan­nel? Not only for rac­ing, but for the open hori­zons of­fered by all forms of sail­ing? More of this in the next is­sue, but we would love to hear your thoughts on the mat­ter.

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