14 yachts have crossed the start line in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race off Cowes, The race is being run in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Race, with crews racing without the benefit of modern technology

The 14 yachts in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race ghosted over the Royal Yacht Squadron start line off Cowes this afternoon – but soon found some wind, with the fleet diverging at Hurst Point.

The fleet split with Pen Duick VI, skippered by Éric Tabarly’s daughter, Marie, leading the French boats – the 60ft Andre Mauric design, Neptune, and the Swan 53, Triana up the North Channel; while the Swan 651, Spirit of Helsinki, sailed the Needles Channel, and was the first boat past The Needles.

Translated 9, formerly ADC Accutrac– which was skipped by Clare Francis to 5th place in the 1977 Whitbread Race, was following, with Tracy Edwards’s Maiden – skipped by the race’s only all-female crew – closely following behind.

The group of Spirit of Helsinki, Translated 9 and Pen Duick VI are currently battling for the lead, having rounded Anvil Point, with the rest of the fleet crossing Poole Bay.

Translated 9 are leading Maiden, Spirit of Helsinki and Pen Duick VI in the IRC Class.

Earlier, the boats and their crew docked out from Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, and on the water, there was a large spectator fleet to watch the entrants leave, reminiscent of the Whitbread Races of old.

The Ocean Globe Race has three classes: Adventure, Sayula and Flyer.

In the Adventure Class, the French boat Triana currently leads but is being pursued by Galiana with Secure, skippered by Golden Globe Race veteran, Tapio Lehtinen.

Lentinen – an ex-Whitbread Race veteran who took part in the 1981-82 edition aboard the C&C Baltic 51,  Skopbank Finland – has put together a young Finnish crew for the 2023 Ocean Globe Race; he aims is to establish a Finnish offshore sailing legacy and provide young Finnish sailors – aged 25-30 –  with the same opportunities he had as a young man.

“My aim with this project is for the continuation of the famous tradition of ocean sailing, which started at the times of the great Grain Races with Square Riggers,” explained Lehtinen.

Galiana with Secure was dismasted off Portland Bill just weeks before the start of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race while taking part in the Fastnet Race.

“It was quite a shock and disappointment. We had been working with the boat for four years now and we decided to replace the rig 1.5 years ago. The rig was installed over one year ago. The mast was delivered late and against the specification and we had already decided to modify the mast after the Fastnet Race. I am happy it came down here, and not the Southern Ocean,” explained Lehtinen.

Lehtinen told PBO that Galiana with Secure dismasted due to the spreader tip failing, as the spreader profiles were too thin for the mast and the spreader bar was at the wrong angle.

The Swan 51, Godspeed is the smallest boat in the fleet, skippered by British and American military veterans.

Skipper Taylor Grieger spoke to PBO, saying he was inspired to take part in the race as it “the most real sailing race in the world”, where ordinary people could take part in a round the world yacht race.

“There is no chance I am getting on a sailboat, worth millions of dollars, let alone with with a team like this. It would be impossible. So when this race was created for real sailors doing real sailing without modern technology, I believed that this was a race that we needed to be a part of,” he said.

In the 1973 Whitbread, Sir Chay Blyth skippered the 77-ft ketch, Great Britain II, which was crewed by members of The Parachute Regiment, which Sir Chay was also a part of.

The Baltic 55, Outlaw, is led by 73-year-old Campbell Mackie – the oldest entrant in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race.

The yacht competed in the 1985-86 Whitbread Race as Equity and Law.

Mackie told PBO that he bought the boat sight unseen in 2021 in America, before seeing the boat in 2022. The refit began in May 2022.

The inside of the boat was gutted, and new wiring was installed ahead of the race.

The Outlaw crew began bonding after sailing the boat – after refit – from Newport, Rhode Island.

“If you choose good people who know how to sail but above all have the mental resilience to deal with life at sea over long periods of time, they all seem to know intuitively what is important for teamwork, and it was very rewarding to watch how that all unfolded as we left America because I think we were all quite stressed and it was a very hectic period in Newport and people just got on with it,” explained Mackie.

The Swan 53, Sterna is being skippered by Rufus Brand but is owned by Dr. Gerrit Louw, who co-owns All Spice Yachting.

Dr Louw said he entered the Ocean Globe Race at the same time as Jeremy Bagshaw announced his entry into the 2022 Golden Globe Race, and he was excited to continue the legacy.

There will be 8 permanent crew on board, with an additional crew member for Leg 3 – from Auckland to Punta del Este in Uruguay.

In the Sayula class, the Swan 57, Explorer is skipped by 2018 and 2022 Golden Globe Race veteran, Mark Sinclair.

“She is a beautiful boat and she tracks really well. The wind increases and she just goes faster and digs in, she doesn’t round up. She is beautifully balanced with the headsail, main and mizzen, we have a genoa staysail and we have a number of kites. The big difference between the Golden Globe Race and this race is that you are not alone. You have a crew of 10; all of a sudden, I can’t be lazy, we have the capacity to do stuff so it is a matter of keeping the boat going. It is a lot of fun,” said Sinclair.

The only Spanish entry is the Swan 57, White Shadow – skippered by Jean-Christophe Petit.

France has the most entries in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race which includes the Swan 65 ketch, Evrika.

Previously owned by Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright, Evrika is being skippered by boat builder Dominique Dubois.

Originally the team was to race the Swan 651, Futuro, but in February 2023, the boat was blown from its cradle during Storm Gérard; the damage cost more than the value of the boat.

Dubois then bought Evrika from Brit Richard Little.

Spirit of Helsinki made a strong start in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race.

The Swan 651 sloop is skippered by Jussi Paavoseppa, and had a last-minute crew member join just days before the start – in true Whitbread Race style.

Ian Herbert-Jones, who took part in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, before his Tradewind 35, Puffin was dismasted in the Southern Atlantic, decided to join the team.

“I had three days’ notice, so it seemed like a reasonable amount of time to prepare for a round the world sailing race. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is nearly 12 months ago that we slipped lines for the 2022 Golden Globe Race, that was 7 months at sea alone before Puffin and I got into trouble, and I lost Puffin. To be stepping on board another boat, but this time, stepping onboard a big boat, a beautiful boat with great crew to go back into those oceans is a great opportunity, I guess there is something there that is waiting to be finished off,” explained Herbert-Jones.

The Flyer Class is limited to yachts that have previously raced in a Whitbread Race.

Pen Duick VI, skippered by Marie Tabarly, is the largest boat in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet – at 73ft.

This race is unfinished business for the Tabarly family. Marie’s father, the legendary French sailor Éric Tabarly, sailed Pen Duick VI in the 1973 Whitbread Race, but the boat was dismasted twice.

Pen Duick VI and his crew made a strong start to the Ocean Globe Race, and were pushing hard towards the front of the fleet.

Translated 9, the Swan 65, will also be following in the wake of another Whitbread great – Clare Francis – the first woman to ever skipper a boat in a round the world yacht race.

Francis raced the Swan 65 – named ADC Accutrac –  to 5th place in the 1977 Whitbread Race.

The boat is being skippered by Marco Trombetti and Italian offshore sailor Vittorio Malingri, the first Italian to race in a Vendée Globe (1993).

Onboard is UK sailor Simon Curwen, the first finished in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, who will be sailing the first two legs.

Maiden is skippered by Heather Thomas – and  – just as in the 1989-90 Whitbread Race – is the only yacht with an all-female crew.

The 60ft Andre Mauric design, Neptune, which was raced in the 1977-78 Whitbread Race, has been modified – with extra hand holds –  to aid crew member, Bertrand Delhom, who has Parkinson’s Disease.

He is competing in all four legs and aims to become the first person with Parkinson’s Disease to sail a round the world yacht race.

L’Esprit d’équipe – 57ft Philippe Briand design – has taken part in more Whitbread Races than any other boat in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet.

It raced in 1981-82 as 33 Export, 1985-86 as L’Esprit d’équipe (winning the class, skipped by Lionel Péan) and in 1989-90 as Esprit de Liberté.

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