“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Golden Globe Race 30th Anniversary

Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the World, aboard his 32ft 5in
yacht ‘SUHAILI’. Knox-Johnson returned on 14 June 1968, to complete the 30,123 mile voyage in 313 days – an average of 4.02knots.
pic by: BILL ROWNTREE-KNOX-JOHNSTON ARCHIVE/PPL

by Richard Crockett

With Kirsten Neuschafer inching her way ever closer to rounding Cape Horn in the lead of the Golden Globe Race 2022, it is an appropriate time to go back into the history of the Golden Globe Race and share the report, written by Barry Pickthall, which was sub-titled “30 years on, this story of an adventure at sea remains stranger than fiction”.

But before that, it is also highly appropriate to mention South African Kirsten Neuschafer who is the only woman in the re-enactment of this race which started on 4 September last year (2022). She leads going in to Cape Horn, with a few nautical miles over 7000nm to go to the finish.

Now this is a very tough and slow race as she is only expected to finish in mid-April. She has been at sea for over five months now. While the relief of rounding “The Horn” will be huge, the final stretch up the Atlantic to the finish will be tough as it will be slow, with the doldrums to traverse, plus the fact that the bottom of her trusty steed will be growing more barnacles on a daily basis, slowing her down.

She is made of stern stuff and has carved her name in sailing history when, last November, she rescued Tapio Lehtinen in the Southern Indian Ocean after his yacht suddenly sunk under him. That was no mean feat.

So back to the original Golden Globe Race of 1968. The opening paragraphs read:

“I see Tabarly is building a trimaran … ” said Robin Knox-Johnston’s Father, looking up from his paper one morning in March 196 7. “I wonder if he is going to beat Chichester’s time, or perhaps even go round non-stop? That’s about all there is left to do now, isn’t it”

“Those last words kept turning in the younger Knox-Johnston’s mind. The 28 year old officer in the Merchant Navy was just back in England after sailing his 32ft traditional ketch Suhaili 15,000 miles home from India. Headlines like ‘Frenchman Supreme on Anglo-Saxon Ocean’ published after Eric Tabarly, the doyen of modern day French sailing, had won the 1964 Single-handed transatlantic race, still festered in his fiercely patriotic mind. “They had made my blood boil, implying that the British sailors had proved inferior to the French. Were the French now going to try and take over the world?” he questioned.

This is another good read for those with a thirst for sailing history.

READ IT HERE:  1999 01 – SAILING Magazine – OCR

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