One sailor against the planet, with no high technology. The Golden Globe Race promises a retro race around the globe for solo sailing fans.

The  Golden Globe Race will take place in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first solo non-stop circumnavigation under sail by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Knox-Johnston completed the circumnavigation during the 1968/9 Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race, and the new race will start from Falmouth on June 14, 2018 - exactly 50 years after the start of the original event.

Golden Globe Race course

The Golden Globe Race course.

The announcement was made in London today on the 46th anniversary of Sir Robin’s victorious return to Falmouth in 1969, as the sole finisher in the Sunday Times race. The race will be very different from the various round-the-world races that have entertained us over recent years.

A Tradewind 35, one of 13 traditional long keeled production yachts of the type approved for the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

A Tradewind 35, one of 13 traditional long keeled production yachts of the type approved for the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

The 2018 Golden Globe Race is very simple. Competitors will depart Falmouth, England, and sail solo, non-stop around the world via the five Great Capes, returning to Falmouth. Entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Sir Robin in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite based navigation aids. Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 – 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 with a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge, similar in concept to Knox-Johnston’s yacht Suhaili.

Australian adventurer Don McIntyre, founder of this 2018 Race says: “The overriding aim is for a race where adventure takes precedence over winning at all costs; one where sailing skill and traditional seamanship, rather than modern technology and outside support, gets you round, and where the achievement truly belongs to the skipper.”

McIntyre who completed his first solo circumnavigation in 1991 and more recently retraced Capt. Bligh’s Bounty Boat voyage from Tonga to Kupang, West  Timor in a similar open boat with minimal rations. He intends to compete in the Race with his Tradewind 35 Betty, one of 13 traditional production yacht types approved for this race. Watch a video presentation by McIntyre below.


Another entrant is British yachtsman and adventurer Chris Jacks from Liverpool. Last Autumn, he climbed the summits of 92 Wainwright mountains within 40 days – equivalent to climbing Mount Everest twice.

Two more sailors, one from Australia, the other from Germany, have so far expressed keen interest to compete and are currently finalising their plans. The 2018 Race is limited to a maximum of 20 entrants.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says: “I’m a great believer in the freedom of the individual. I think this race is a great idea, giving an opportunity for those who want to do something special with their lives. You can enter this race in an ordinary seaworthy boat and know that success will be down to personal drive and determination, and not to the biggest budget. I intend to be at the start with Suhaili to celebrate this anniversary and expect to be joined by two other yachts that competed in the original Sunday Times Race.”

A prize purse of £75,000 has been budgeted for the 2018 Golden Globe Race, and all who finish before 15:25hrs on April 22, 2019 (the anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s finish) will receive a Suhaili trophy and a refund of their entry fee.

We'll be watching with interest to see who else might have their imagination caught by such an event, and expect that the entry list will grow to include some interesting names.