British sailor Adam Waugh is currently building his Class Globe 5.80 at his home in Northumberland before taking part in the 2025 Mini Globe Race across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
The Class Globe 5.80 would not be described by some sailors as the ideal boat to race around the world.
At just 5.8m (19ft) long and 2.27m (7.44ft) wide, the boat is a far cry from the 40ft plus multihulls and monohulls that most skippers would gravitate towards for offshore adventures.
But the idea of ocean sailing in small boats is nothing new; they are certainly more than seaworthy.
In the 1950s, John Guzzwell proved that sub 21ft boats were capable of circumnavigating the world.
Inspired by the likes of Harry Pidgeons and Joshua Slocum, who built their own boats to sail the world’s oceans, the carpenter spent £50 on a set of Jack Laurent Giles plans for a 6.27m (20ft 6in) yawl.
Guzzwell built Trekka, using only hand tools, next to a fish and chip shop in Victoria, British Columbia.
The boat had a wooden keel made of oak, red cedar planking and a plywood deck; the sail plan included a 100 sq ft mainsail, 26 sq ft mizzen, 58 sq ft No 1 staysail, 29 sq ft No 2 staysail, 148 sq ft genoa and a 64 sq ft mizzen staysail.
Launched in August 1954, his first long solo voyage on Trekka was to Hawaii, via San Francisco, in September 1955; he continued sailing for another four years, covering 33,000 miles.
Guzzwell’s subsequent book, Trekka Around the World, is seen by many as one of the greatest small boat stories of all time, and details the build of the boat, cruising in company with Miles and Beryl Smeeton, crossing the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, transiting the Panama Canal and sailing back to Victoria via Hawaii in 1959.
Now Adam Waugh, 59, is hoping to follow (partially) in Trekka‘s wake.
It is the first boat he has ever built, and he began construction in February 2022 after buying the plans for €300.
A year later, and the boat’s hull has been turned and he is in the process of fitting the interior.
The build has been delayed due to a house move and Adam’s recovery from an appendicitis, but the former amateur jockey is hopeful he will have his Class Globe 5.80 on the water for sea trials out of his home port of Amble by the middle of the summer.
“I think patience is a huge thing with boat building that I am having to battle with a bit, I am not naturally a very patient person and not having done a project nearly as big as this before, I’ve had to learn the really important lesson that it just takes time. But we’re getting there now. Pretty much every step has been a learning curve from the frame building to putting stringers on, to the planking, putting the hull boards on and the fairing, which was definitely my least favourite part. I’ve spent as much time behind a computer screen, looking at other builders’ blogs, speaking to other builders and researching various techniques, as I have actually building the boat.”
Adam, who has put his Sigma 36 up for sale to fund his adventure, said learning how to use ‘forgiving’ epoxy resin (“If you make some mistakes, as long as they’re not too significant, then a dollop of epoxy here or there can patch things up very, very well”) has also been key.
“In terms of the actual build, I’m really quite happy with what’s happened so far. I am now getting more into the technical side of it, like where I will be putting in lockers, and which lockers need to be watertight, what depth does your nav table need to be and how are you going to configure the galley? Are you going to have an alcohol burner or you’re going to have some sort of small gas burner? So this is where I am now, which, for me, is a more interesting part of the build process.”
Every Class Globe 5.80 is a basic plywood epoxy construction, and has to be built from certified marine plywood – 8mm thick on deck, cockpit, bulkheads and built-in interiors; 10mm for the bottom, side and transom plating (central bottom strip of plywood 20 mm).
The Class Globe 5.80 is designed to be fully self-righting, and has a 142° point of vanishing stability. Each boat has to have a steel fabricated keel with lead bulb, two transom balancing dagger boards, a companionway hatch or door with 360° visibility, and a central, strong skeg supported outboard rudder with three sets of gudgeons and pintles. This allows for trim tab windvane steering; entrants in the Mini Globe Race must fit a South Atlantic 301 S windvane.
Adam plans to opt for the furling jib believing it will give him “100% flexibility on reefing and quick reefing. I’ve used it before and for a bit of technology, it’s relatively low risk in terms of what might go wrong with this; it’s not like in-mast furling.”
Our resident YouTube fanatic marvels at the generations of women who have crossed (and continue to cross) oceans on Wharram…
The question of how to build a boat can be met with a dizzying array of answers. A website search…
What’s it like to build your own plywood 19-footer to race solo across the Atlantic? David Harding sailed with Keith…
American skipper Jack Johnson has sailed his home-built plywood yacht to first place in the McIntyre Globe 5.80 Transat 2023,…
He has already dry-fitted the boat’s cockpit and says it ‘feels quite spacious’ for his 5ft 9in frame.
“I’m used to a Sigma 36 with a tiller so it’s not that different, and actually, the Sigma 36 hasn’t got a huge cockpit at all. I think the issue for me, being nearly 60, is more the business of getting up and down the companionway. It’s a bit more of a job than it is in a cruising boat. When you’re sailing on your own you’re spending a lot of time coming up and down the companionway; I think that will be tricky,” he said.
At the moment, his focus is very much on finishing the build so he can start sailing his Class Globe 5.80. He plans to cruise up to The Orkney and Shetland Islands and cross the North Sea to Norway this summer.
Adam has never crossed an ocean before, let alone on a boat this small. So why sign up for the Mini Globe Race?
“It’s a question that I ask myself quite regularly, especially when I am selling a lovely boat (his Sigma 36) and building a smaller one. Ever since I sailed to Iceland, I’ve just been very taken by the idea of going long distances on a sailing boat. Whenever I’m sailing, the most fun bit is when I lose sight of land and keep going further away. When I was told about the Class Globe 5.80 boat, and the fact that it was a self-built boat with an option to go around the world at the end of it, it just seemed like it was made for me.”
The Mini Globe Race will start on 23 February 2025 from Antigua, and will be divided into four legs:
Leg One: Start of race from Antigua to Panama;
Leg Two: Panama to Fiji via Tahiti and Tonga;
Leg Three: Fiji to Cape Town via Darwin, Australia, Mauritius and Durban;
Leg Four: Cape Town to Antigua via St Helena and Recife, Brazil.
John Guzzwell stopped in Tonga, Mauritius, Cape Town, and St Helena during his circumnavigation.
The race covers 28,000 miles and is limited to 30 entrants (who must have a minimum of 2,000 miles of sailing experience); it should take around a year to complete.
Adam said he is gathering information to prepare himself for sailing such a small boat, including reading Trekka Round the World.
“I’m trying to do anything I can to find out information about sailing a small boat as well as thinking about sailing a 19ft boat rather than a 36 footer. Clearly, a 36 foot boat can bash through a headwind going into a sea fairly easily and I’m well aware that this [sailing a Class Globe 5.80) is going to be a very different kind of business. I’m hoping that the majority of the race will be in favourable winds, certainly not headwinds. At this stage, most of my focus is on making sure that I can get the boat in the water in good time, rather than focusing on tactics for small small boats in big oceans.”
Adam is still looking for a sponsor, and has yet to name his boat. More details about his Class Globe 5.80 build can be found at his website: www.clearbluesea.co.uk
Class Globe 5.80 statistics:
Designer: Janusz Madersky, Poland
Type: One design racing yacht to International Class Globe 5.30 certification
Construction: 20mm, 10mm & 8mm marine plywood, frames, epoxy glass cover
LOA: 5.8m (19ft), plus bowsprit (1m/3.2 ft)
Hull length: 5.70m (18.7ft)
Beam: 2.27m (7.44ft)
Draught: 1.4m (4.59ft)
Light ship weight: 920kg (2,028lbs)
Steel keel lead ballast: 244kg (537lbs)
Mainsail: 12.5m2/9.9m2/7.2m2/4.4m2 (134.5sq ft/106.5sq ft/77.5sq ft/48.4sq ft)
Jib: 7m2/6m2/4.7m2 (75.34sq ft/64.58sq ft/50.59sq ft)
Storm jib: 1.6m2/0.9m2 (17.22sq ft/9.68sq ft)
Gennaker: 25m2 (269.09sq ft)
DWL displacement: 1,145kg (2,524lbs)
Build time: 500 hours
About the 2025 Mini Globe Race
The Mini Globe Race is a multi-stage solo around the world yacht race scheduled for 2025.
The fleet will leave from the Caribbean island of Antigua and sail through the Panama Canal.
Don McIntyre, the Australian founder of the Golden Globe Race, Ocean Globe Race and Mini Globe Race. He also helped Jessica Watson prepare for a record circumnavigation around the world at hte age of 16They will race across the Pacific over several legs, stopping at the Tahiti, Tonga and Fiji, before heading towards Cape Town via Darwin in Australia, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, and the South African port, Durban.
After stopping in Cape Town, the fleet will then race back to Antigua via St Helena and Recife in Brazil. The entire race is expected to take 10 months.
The race has been developed by Australian sailor Don McIntyre, who is behind the retro Golden Globe Race and the retro Ocean Globe Race, which will start in September 2023 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race.
*NB This article has been updated since publication to reflect updates to the route and timings of the 2025 Mini Globe Race.
Enjoyed reading this article?
A subscription to Practical Boat Owner magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.
Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.
PBO is packed with information to help you get the most from boat ownership – whether sail or power.
- Take your DIY skills to the next level with trusted advice on boat maintenance and repairs
- Impartial in-depth gear reviews
- Practical cruising tips for making the most of your time afloat