After a short delay for severe conditions, seven sailors, including three Americans took off from A Coruña, Spain, on Sunday to join the boats already on the round-the-world racecourse of the Global Solo Challenge.
The majority of those who started this weekend were sailing Class40s, including American Cole Brauer on First Light, the only woman in the race, and David Linger of Seattle in Koloa Maoli. Ronnie Simpson, sailing his Open 50 Shipyard Brewing, also started on Sunday.
These three Americans joined competitors from Spain, France, and Italy in this latest wave. The next start is set for November 18, and a fourth American, Curt Morlock of New Castle, Colorado, sailing the Open 60 6 Lazy K, is set to leave on December 9. To check in on their progress on the tracker, click here.
As of late last week, the leader in terms of estimated time of arrival was Philippe Delamare of France sailing the Actual 46 Mowgli; he started on September 30. His theoretical lead was tight over 63-year-old Dafydd Hughes of the UK, who is sailing Bendigedig, a 1971 S&S 34. At the same time, Hughes, who was the fleet’s first starter on August 26, had already rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of South Africa but had slowed down in stiff headwinds.
This race is the inaugural Global Solo Challenge (GSC), whose goal is to provide a more affordable, doable round-the-world solo nonstop competition for sailors. It falls somewhere between the extremely expensive and professional Vendée Globe, sailed in purpose-built IMOCA 60s, and the entirely amateur Golden Globe Race, sailed in production boats between 32 and 36 feet designed before 1988. The course starts and ends in A Coruña, taking the sailors east about the globe via Cape Alguhas (South Africa), Cape Leeuwin (Australia), and Cape Horn (South America).
Competitors can sail in anything from a classic, full-keeled, 32-foot cruiser to performance boats including Class40s and Open 50s and 60s. Along with helping make the race more affordable, race organizers say upgrading older boats rather than building new ones helps keep the race’s carbon footprint lower. Participants can be professionals or amateurs (most are the latter).
The key to keeping the race competitive is a staggered start format based on the boats’ ratings and projected speed. Slower boats start first, while the final start will be for Volkan Kaan Yemlihaoğlu on his Open 70, Black Betty, on Jan. 6, 2024.
Unlike the Vendée and Golden Globe, competitors can use weather routers, and some outside assistance is permitted. Skippers may pull into port and get help, if needed, and they may be in constant contact with shore teams.
“The GSC may be a competition for some, but it is primarily a platform for participants to accomplish a dream many sailors share,” race organizers said in a press release. “The race format allows sailors to take part in an ambitious singlehanded circumnavigation while benefiting from the solidarity and camaraderie that comes from being part of a global event.”
For more information and to track the race, visit globalsolochallenge.com