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May/June Issue 255: The Golden Globe Race

Apr 30, 2019
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s boat Suhaili near the end of the Golden Globe Race.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s boat Suhaili near the end of the Golden Globe Race.

The first Golden Globe nonstop around-the-world race was held 50 years ago in 1968-69 as a response to Sir Francis Chichester’s single-handed, one-stop circumnavigation a few years before. What if a competition was held that pitted sailors in a race around the world nonstop? The Sunday Times sponsored the event and the race was on.

The competitors required little or no vetting before undertaking this great adventure. A few of them had some previous long-distance sailing experience, like Bernard Moitessier and Robin Knox-Johnston. But others, like Chay Blyth, Donald Crowhurst and John Ridgway, were inexperienced to say the least.

In terms of technology, 1968 might as well be considered prehistoric. Nothing that sailors take for granted existed back then; there were no EPIRBs, no navigational GPS systems and no satcom.

Yet what an eclectic group of dreamers! This included the likes of Moitessier, who kept sailing until he sailed around the world one-and-a-half times to finish in Tahiti, instead of finishing a race he possibly would have won. And Chay Blyth, who knew nothing of sailing — didn’t know a halyard from a stay — though he had rowed a small boat across the Atlantic.

Nigel Tetley’s Victress was a 22-foot trimaran, the first to complete a circumnavigation. Tetley was on his way to winning the race, but pushed his boat too hard and it fell apart. He was rescued at sea.

And the most tragic of them all: Donald Crowhurst, who created a Byzantine labyrinth of reversed celestial navigation calculations from all over the world while he stayed in the South Atlantic, his boat and mind falling apart until finally he succumbed and jumped overboard.

The winner was 29-year-old Robin Knox-Johnston in his wooden Suhaili. He spent 312 days at sea.

The latest version of the race departed July 1, 2018, with production yachts all in the range of 32 to 36 feet, and 18 entrants ranging in age from 28 to 72. It was won by 73-year-old Jean-Luc Van Dan Heede, a French sailor with five prior circumnavigations. He completed the race in 212 days and became the oldest person to do a nonstop circumnavigation.

Let’s join our winner somewhere in the South Atlantic on his way home. The date is Dec. 4, 2018, but we will be using the 2019 Nautical Almanac. Dead reckoning is 38º 25’ S by 56º 15’ W. Height of eye is 8 feet. There is no index error and we are doing a lower limb shot of the sun. The time of our sight is 18:25:15 GMT. The Hs is 47º 12’. We want to create a line of position and then an estimated position so we can evaluate the efficacy of our DR position.

A. What is the HO?
B. What is the local hour angle?
C. What is the assumed position?
D. What is our intercept?

Answers
A. Ho is 47º 24.6’
B. LHA is 42º
C. AP is 38º S by 56º 46.2’ W
D. Intercept is 29.4 nm away

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