The Golden Globe Race: 50 years later, it’s back!

Going back some years, we remember the incredible exploits of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. In 1969, this then young British sailor, only 27 at the time, made history in completing the very first solo sail around the world without stopping nor assistance. This was the first competition of its kind. The race has since become modern folklore, partly due to the feats of Knox-Johnston and partly due to the tragedy of fellow competitor, Donald Crowhurst.


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the very first Golden Globe Race (GGR), a new edition sees the light of day this year. In Sables d’Olonne, France, more than a dozen sailors will take to the starting line and travel around the world. Just like in 1969, the competitors will hand the same conditions: same style boats, limited navigation equipment, rudimentary communication, etc.

In this article, we present the race route, the rules  and the sailors who will take part on July, 1st, 2018.

The Race:

The GGR can be summed up quite simply: An around the world race, solo! Without completely ignoring modern day safety, this 50th anniversary competition harks back to the ways of yesteryear. The participants of the GGR will sail like they were from the 60s!

The Route:

The GGR will follow the same race route as the original covering a total of 30,000 nautical miles. The only difference being that this time the race will start and end on French shores in the port of Sables d’Olonne, home of the famous Vendée Globe race. The participants will be required to pass by 4 ports to complete the race. Other race rules are not navigating too close to the coast as well as keeping clear of glaciers.

Route for the Golden Globe Race


The rules:

The sophisticated navigation tools and technologies of today are thrown out and replaced by 60’s style racing yachts similar to the Suhaili, the boat used by Sir Robin Know-Johnston in 1968. The dimensions of the boat must be between 32 and 36 feet with a boat design of 1988 or earlier and have a long keel.

As this is a solo sailing race, without stops or assistance, the sailors must keep to themselves, only anchoring in case of emergency such as sustaining damage to their boat. Entering into the port and getting outside help is strictly prohibited.

The participants will have to keep their logbook up-to-date as it will be rigorously inspected to ensure that there is no breach of the rules.

Suhaili, Robin Knox-Johnston, 1968


Jean-Luc van den Heede’s boat for the GGR 2018


On board equipment:

There have been a lot of technological advancements in the last 50 years and even more so in marine navigation where the majority of boats are now equipped with GPS, AIS and VHF. And it goes without saying that this wasn’t the case for the first GGR. Back then, a piece of paper and a sextant was required to geo-locate oneself. To communicate to the outside world, there were two options: radio waves and the telegraph. So the GGR racers of 2018 will have to adopt the same technologies that existed in 68 rather than the tools they have become accustomed to using today which will pose a real challenge.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and his radio, Marconi « Kestrel »on-board the Suhaili, 1968




The participants :

For the moment, 18 participants will take part in the GGR on July, 1st, in Sables d’Olonne. 13 different nations will be represented and the age of the competitors ranges from 28 to 72!

Provisional participants list as of June, 21, 2018

This race stands out as one of mankind’s pioneering moments and so it will be no easy challenge for the class of 2018. Because of the rules and boat restrictions, this race will most likely take at least 100 days to complete. To follow the latest GGR news, visit their official website or their Facebook page.

Following the start of the race, we will take a look at the history of this famous race and in particular at one contestant, Donald Crowhurst, who started the race alongside future winner Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and the 7 other competitors. His incredible story saw his lie unravel after 243 days at sea and that his disappearance was not an accident. Even today, this story stands as the biggest scandal of sailing world.