American skipper Jack Johnson has sailed his home-built plywood yacht to first place in the McIntyre Globe 5.80 Transat 2023, and has qualified for the Mini Globe Race 2025
The solo sailor crossed the finish line close to the National Sailing Academy in Antigua on 29 December 2023, having taken 33 days, 32 hours and 2 minutes to sail 3,186nm from the start at Rubicon Marina in Lanzarote.
Johnson also took first place in the Globe 5.80 Transat qualifier, from Lagos in Portugal to Lanzarote, having shipping his boat from Oakland, California to Europe for the race.
All of the four skippers in the race had to deal with light wind conditions and even headwinds at times.
After crossing the finish line, Johnson said he had found it tough to be becalmed.
“The middle [part of the race] was really emotionally hard for me because it was just slow and I always felt I was going in the wrong direction and I wasn’t sailing right, so that was really hard. Once I started getting further down the course, I felt like I was doing OK and I could cover the guys [other entrants] from the south and north by staying in the middle and once I did that, I felt great,” said the 51-year-old.
Johnson’s nearest rival was lifelong friend and fellow American boatbuilder Michael Moyer, who came close to overtaking Johnson around 1,000 miles from the finish.
But the Newport Beach sailor couldn’t keep up with Johnson’s pace and ended up finishing 21 hours behind the race winner.
On arrival aboard his Class Globe 5.80, Sunbear, Moyer said: “That took 9 days too long! I do not know how many days I had under 60 miles, it has been pretty frustrating. The best part of the journey has been right now.”
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Hours later, Keith Oliver took third place, on Meraki.
The Chichester-based sailor built the Class Globe 5.80 in his back garden and only launched the boat weeks before the start of the race before trailing it from the UK to Lagos for the qualifying leg of the race.
Full details of the build and a test of Meraki can be found in the February 2024 issue of Practical Boat Owner.
Oliver was the least experienced of the four skippers taking part, having never done any serious offshore or solo sailing, but achieved a podium finish despite sailing more miles – 3,273nm – than the rest of the fleet.
“I am glad to be here. Everything was really good on the boat, I couldn’t fault it!” said Oliver.
The final skipper to cross the finish line of the McIntyre Globe 5.80 Transat 2023 was Ertan Beskardes, who experienced more heavy weather sailing during his race, than any of the other competitors.
Beskardes, who was an entrant in the 2018 and 2022 Golden Globe Race, faced 70 knot winds and big seas, which knocked down his boat, Trekka around 900nm from the finish.
This resulted in an air vent being swept away, and water ingress through the vent and solar panel fittings, which he managed to patch, before becoming fully becalmed for days.
“We had many windlass days, we all did, but as soon as you start sailing you forget about those. The 20-hour storm was surprising as I had a daily weather reports from Predictwind and there was nothing like that showing; you would have thought 20 hours of high winds would show up on something. The boat moved up and down like an express elevator. I had a lot of windage with the furlers and the boat got knocked down a couple of times but the boat held up,” said the Turkish-British sailor, who crossed the line after just over 36 days at sea.
All four skippers have now qualified for the 2025 Mini Globe Race, which will start from Antigua in February 2025.
The race will be in 4 legs, from Antigua to Panama, Panama to Fiji, Fiji to Cape Town, and Cape Town to Antigua.
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