Dedicated Golden Globe Race 2022 entrants will have sailed halfway around the world, prior to the start in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

The sole female contender, South African Kirsten Neuschäfer, recently completed her Golden Globe Race (GGR) refit in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, and is due to arrive home in Cape Town after an 8,000-mile solo non-stop sea trail, before heading 6,600 miles to France.

Kirsten, a professional sailor with over 200,000 miles of ocean experience, has been working with Skip Novak in remote places in the Arctic and Antarctic.

She chose the Cape George 36 design due to its long waterline, stability, seaworthiness, and generous rig.

She discovered one in Canada.

She had planned to bring the boat to Maine, United States, for refit, but Covid restrictions made that trip impossible.

Kirsten Neuschäfer

Kirsten Neuschäfer with experienced Minnehaha shipwright Eddie Arsenault and her rigger

By chance, she found support from the Prince Edward Island community, including local tradesman Eddie Arsenault, who managed the refit, rebuilding Minnehaha 100% for the grueling race ahead.

With the one-year refit completed, Neuschäfer departed for her homeport of Cape Town, South Africa in early December 2021.

She is due to spend a few weeks with family, friends and to check on sponsors with her team, before sailing solo to the starting line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

Mark Sinclair is still on the previous race

Mark Sinclair

Captain Coconut Mark Sinclair sailing through Hobart Gate before heading for Cape Horn. Credit: John Tisdell

Meanwhile Australian oceanographer Mark Sinclair is about to round Cape Horn, sailing his Lello 34 Coconut halfway around the world, in order to finish his 2018 GGR.

He left Adelaide on 5 December 2021, bound for Les Sables d’Olonne, officially re-joining the GGR 2018 edition.

Previously, he had to stop in Adelaide after completing only half the race.

The 2018 GGR had no finishing time, and Mark only made the one-stop, so can re-join under the “Chichester Class”.

Mark has also entered the 2022 Golden Globe, so this return voyage also brings him and his boat to the start of the third edition.

He said: “I am first and foremost a mariner, so my number one objective is not to be rescued and get around under my own power.

“I will be more competitive in the next Golden Globe, having built huge experience and faith in my trusty little Coconut.”

Golden Globe Race 2022: Six month countdown approaching

Golden Globe Race 2022 entrant Guido Cantini

Golden Globe Race 2022 entrant Guido Cantini aboard Hannah of Cowes the Vancouver 34. Credit: Guido Cantini/Hannah Racing

It had been hoped all 25 entrants would assemble together for the Golden Globe entrants conference on 9-10 March, in Les Sables d’Olonne, but Covid restrictions mean only 12 will be present.

It will mark the final countdown to the start just six months later.

All entrants are either trying to complete refits and get sailing, or out sailing and gaining important sea miles.

As a minimum, entrants must have at least 8,000 ocean miles and another 2,000 solo sailing experience, followed by a final 2,000 solo miles in the boat as set up for the GGR, sailed with windvane and sextant only.

Race founder Don McIntyre said: “The pressure is building for a few entrants as start day gets closer, and Covid challenges have delayed refits, increased cost and made sponsors harder to find.

“We’ve seen a few entrants retire in the last six months, and I think there will be a couple more soon, but that’s the reality of the Golden Globe –  getting to the start is half the battle!”

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What is the Golden Globe Race? And why is it dubbed the longest, slowest yacht race?

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at the helm of Suhaili. Credit: PPL Photo Agency – Barry Pickthall/ PPL/ GGR

The Golden Globe Race is the original round the world yacht race.

In 1968, nine men set out on the first solo non-stop sailing race around the world.

Only one finished.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston made history when he circumnavigated the globe aboard his 32ft ketch Suhaili using a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece.

In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected, with competitors limited to the yachts and equipment available to Sir Robin in that first race.

They are challenged to:

  • complete the 30,000-mile voyage;
  • non-stop and alone;
  • without outside assistance;
  • without modern technology or satellite-based navigation aids;
  • in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall;
  • designed prior to 1988 that have a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge.

On 4 September 2022, sailors will depart from Les Sables d’Olonne, France for the third edition of the race.