A reunion for all Whitbread Round the World race crew and skippers is being held in the run up to the Ocean Globe Race in September

Whitbread race veterans are being invited to a 50th anniversary reunion, as part of the build up towards the start of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race (OGR).

The OGR is a retro race, held to mark 50 years since the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. It will start at 1300 on 10 September 2023 from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line at Cowes.

Tracy Edwards reunited with Maiden

Tracy Edwards skippered Maiden in the 1989-90 Whitbread Race. Credit: Chris Openshaw

The reunion event is open to all previous Whitbread Race and Volvo Ocean Race crew, and will be held in the OGR Race Village at MDL’s Ocean Village marina in Southampton.

“This will certainly be a highlight of the OGR celebrations and already whole ex-Whitbread teams have confirmed for the party and to watch the start. For them it is sure to rekindle strong emotions from their past adventures,” said OGR founder, Don McIntyre, who is also behind the last two editions of the Golden Globe Race and the 2025 Mini Globe Race.

“If you are a veteran contact us for an invitation,” he added.

The race village is open to the public from 29 August 2023, where the public can view the 14 boats and the last minute preparations by the crew. Tickets are needed for entry, but they are free. You can apply for a ticket here.

A list of all of the entries in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race

All of the entries in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race. Credit: Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580

Seven former Whitbread Race boats, including Tracy Edwards’ Maiden (1989-90 Whitbread Race; Maiden was also raced as Disque D’Or III in the 1981 Whitbread Race) and Marie Tarberly’s Pen Duick VI, (1973-74 Whitbread Race) are taking part.

Maiden is the only boat entering from the UK. Currently the yacht’s rig has been removed for inspection and rerouting of electrical cables for wind instruments and weather fax.

The crew are also undergoing celestial navigation training to hone their traditional navigation skills – a requirement of the OGR to meet the retro nature of the race.

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The Ocean Globe Race has three classes:

  • Adventure Class (47ft-56ft) is limited to 12 places, with a minimum crew of seven;
  • Sayula Class (56.1ft-66ft) is limited to eight places, with a minimum crew of eight;
  • Flyer Class is limited to eight places for yachts previously entered in the 1973, 1977 or 1981 Whitbread, or ‘relevant’ historic significance and ‘approved’ production-built, ocean-certified, sail-training yachts generally 55ft to 68ft LOA.

All boats in the Adventure and Sayula classes must be ocean-going GRP production yachts designed before 1988 and from an approved design list which includes the Swan 55, Nicholson 55, and Baltic 51.

Modern gear, high-tech materials and all computers are banned, with crew having to sail using non-interfaced basic electronic sailing instruments, stand-alone paper print HF Radio weather fax and basic non-GPS radar Marine HF SSB radio.

Former Whitbread winner L’Esprit d’Équipe (won the 1985-86 Whitbread Race) had just returned to the water this week after antifouling, painting of the deck and now work begins on her interior.

With the exception of Maiden, all other teams must have a mixed gender crew; at least one crew has to be under 24 years of age.

Former Whitbread Race yacht L'Esprit d'Équipe on the hard

With the work on the outside complete, the focus will now be on L’Esprit d’Équipe’s interior. Credit: L’Esprit d’Équipe

Fulfilling this criteria, 23-year-old Cameron Schmidt will be sailing Leg 1, from Southampton to Cape Town, on the Swan 57, Explorer AU, which is racing in the Sayula Class.

He was recruited from a number of applicants as part of the McIntyre Adventure Sponsored Youth Opportunity Scheme.

As well as refits, skippers are busy ensuring crews are prepared for the 27,000-mile adventure.

A man on a sailing yacht wearing a wooly hat and red trousers

South African Cameron Schmidt will sail into Cape Town thanks to the McIntyre Adventure Sponsored Youth Opportunity Scheme. Photo Credit: Cameron Schmidt

Jean-Christophe Petit, owner of the only Spanish entry, White Shadow in the Sayula Class, faces the challenge of ensuring his crew from eight different countries communicate effectively.

“You take people from different cultures and different backgrounds. It’s a challenge, but overall, we’ve the same objective and it creates something that is rich. You’ve to make sure everyone is aligned. We need to make sure we’re all on the same page,” said Petit.

The Ocean Globe Race will have four legs.

The route will take in the Southern Ocean and the three Great Capes, with stopovers in Cape Town, Auckland and Punta Del Este in Uruguay, before finishing in Southampton in April 2024.

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