The 50th anniversary edition of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe race will be taking place in less than 17 months time.

One of the forthcoming Golden Globe Race’s four Australian entrants Shane Freeman is on his way to the starting line and is soon to round Cape Horn.

Sailing solo from Melbourne to the UK is not without it’s challenges. Three days ago, he reported steering failure at 47 deg. South Lat. while about 1500 miles from the Cape. Fortunately, he was in mild weather and after some considerable effort, he has been able to rectify the problem.

Of even greater concern was his toilet outlet, which blocked and he has had to revert to a Bucket-n-Chuckit system. This is Shane’s first major solo voyage and already, more than once he has been contemplating the issue of WHY?

He considered at one point heading up to Tahiti rather than face the much greater challenges ahead, not just of Cape Horn, but of being part of the Golden Globe Race itself. Shane, who sails the Tradewind 35 yacht Mushka, wears his heart on his shoulder. His blogs and video diaries are quite something.

Shane Freeman

Shane Freeman

In his latest blog, Shane writes: ‘Yesterday was 46 days at sea. And I had a melt down.

‘I was over it. The boat. The Southern Ocean. Everything. But in priority order it went like this.
‘1) No rain to replenish my fresh water reserves and a nagging set of questions as to how much water remains in my tank. Conservatively, I should have about half tank left [130 litres] But with no gauge I’m relying on my consumption patterns of the past 46 days to give me that number. I’ve been on a water ration of 2L/day for most of this trip. I only use fresh water for drinking and cooking.

‘I am anxious about this and kicking myself for not bringing more water.

‘2) Steering issues – steering mechanism appears to be getting stiff (imagination?) and there is a periodic thumping noise from beneath the stern (in my imagination I’m seeing the rudder bearing is worn and creating movement. But is it?) The rudder was removed and all inspected last year to ensure OK. It was. And in my mind I have related the loosening of the rudder post steering clamp the other day to all of this. Was that a consequence of increasing friction somewhere in the system?

‘I am anxious about this and kicking myself for not doing whatever I should have done to avoid this.

‘3) This is taking sooooo long – the whole thing. I still have 4/5 weeks till the Falklands. It’s boring. This has to be the closest thing to solitary confinement which I wrote about the other week. That’s one aspect but the other is that the longer at sea, the greater the probability that things will break. That’s just the way it is with a boat. And with the closest port is 2,500 nautical miles away – in any direction – if anything does go wrong then there is no putting into any marina or hardstand any time soon.

‘I am anxious about this and kicking myself for being unrealistic about my schedule.

‘These issues had been building up in my mind for a few days. I was feeling lethargic, wanting to stay in my sea berth, putting off doing things and getting increasingly pessimistic.

‘But today is a different day. Those three things that were at a heightened level of anxiety yesterday haven’t gone away but a couple of things occurred which reduced my anxiousness.

‘I was able to ventilate exactly how I was feeling. My eldest daughter was the unfortunate recipient of this over the sat phone but she was very helpful and supportive. I got some good sleep and woke with somehow a different view about those three things above. I am tired and sleep is a great restorative therapy.’

Robin Knox-Johnston aboard Suhaili at the finish of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race- Photo Bill Rowntree/PPL

Robin Knox-Johnston aboard Suhaili at the finish of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race- Photo Bill Rowntree/PPL

The Golden Globe Race, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s historic 1968/9 world first solo non-stop circumnavigation in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race, limits entrants to sailing similar yachts and equipment to what was available to Sir Robin in that first race.

There are now three Tradewind 35’s entered, including a bright orange hull from Istvan Kopar and a more traditional red, white and blue version from Kevin Farebrother in Australia and Shane.

Istvan Kopar's safety orange hull

Istvan Kopar’s safety orange hull

Susie Goodall is currently training on the first leg of a double Atlantic crossing in her Rustler 36 and indications are that her toilet is doing fine.

Jean Luc VDH on the other hand prefers a Bucket-n-chuckit over a hard seat any day, so that is all he uses. He is out training in his Rustler 36 Matmut for a couple weeks in the north Atlantic checking his new mast and rigging.

Others are working hard with boat refits, chasing sponsors, learning celestial navigation or trying to earn money. Just a few are out hunting for a boat. With only 4.5 months left to secure it, or lose their entry, the pressure is on.

With the second round of entry fees due, there have seen quite a few provisional entrants drop out to be immediately filled by those sitting patiently on the wait list.

Kevin Farebrother’s classic Tradewind 35

Kevin Farebrother’s classic Tradewind 35

A Golden Globe Race (GGR) spokesman said: ‘The provisional entry list remains full, but the wait list is now officially empty. Whilst those retiring are obviously a little sad, I must say their replacements are excited.

‘It is the way with this type of event, where the effort to get to the start line is in many ways the real battle. As this transition continues, those that remain are the strong ones, totally committed to their dream. The current provisional entry list is on the ‘skippers’ section of the GGR website.

‘A group of completely new sailors are responding to this new opportunity to join the GGR. A wave of enquiries has begun from America, Australia and Europe. We fully expect to see the wait list grow again very soon.

‘The recent exciting finish to the Vendee Globe with Alex Thomson from the UK nearly causing an upset to the established run of French victories, has stirred the imagination of many. Suddenly in the days surrounding that huge finish, we have more than a few enquiries from French sailors about the 2022 GGR?

Barry Pickthall with the giant Golden Globe Race globe

Barry Pickthall with the giant Golden Globe Race globe

‘That giant Golden Globe Race globe made an appearance at the London Boat show on centre stage mid-January with a few of our skippers, their sponsors and Falmouth Boat works who are refitting three yachts for entrants. Barry Pickthall interviewed them all and kept the crowds entertained.

‘Our enthusiastic meetings in both Plymouth and Falmouth has caused a flurry of activity. We are confident that this unexpected competitive process is good for the race. Both parties are working hard to secure the Start-Finish port status. We are very grateful for their ongoing efforts. It is our intention to decide as soon as we have received all final proposals and no later than April 1st.

‘Over the next few months we will start our search for the GGR race director (who must speak fluent French and English) and our assistant race director. These are exciting positions that will at times be quite demanding. The transition to full time activity from late this year, will be preceded by a period of part time effort via mobile office, commencing Mid-Year. If you or any of your associates are interested and believe you have what it takes for either of these rolls, then we would like to hear from you. You would join an interesting team, creating something from an idea that is attracting global interest.’

To keep up with GGR life leading up to the start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race on 16 June 2018 from Falmouth, you can follow the GGR Facebook page.