Les Sables d’Olonne, France (September 4, 2022) – Family and friends bid farewell to 16 skippers competing in the Golden Globe Race, a solo non-stop voyage sailing small 32-36 ft old fashion yachts without technology and no assistance. Following years of intense preparations and safety checks, the competitors would now endure nine months of total isolation with only high frequency radios to speak.
The people of Sables d’Olonne provided their iconic support as thousands lined the wall along the harbor channel where classic and historic yachts, competitors of the Golden Globe Race, traditional Olonnois yachts and local yachts paraded towards the startline.
“We couldn’t have wished for a better home port for the GGR than Les Sables d’Olonne,” said Don McIntyre, President and Founder of the race. “To watch the sailors depart the marina was both humbling, exciting, and electric. We were all swept up in the emotion and human spirit on display. Trying to imagine the hardships and joy these sailors and dreamers will experience in the months ahead was hard.”
It was Britain’s Simon Curwen who crossed the line first, followed shortly by France’s Damien Guillou on PRB, later joined by Kirsten Neuschäfer. The trio who led the previous Gijon prologue quickly took the lead of the fleet towards Cape Finisterre, 350 miles south-west of Les Sables d’Olonne, which they are expected to reach in 3 to 4 days.
Popular local French sailor Arnaud Gaist crossed the start line early by about one minute and was asked by the official starter to recross the line. He failed to do so which will be addressed later, but as he sails the smallest yachts in the fleet, it is not expected to have a significant impact.
Christian Dumard, the meteorologist for legendary races such as the Vendée Globe, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Mini Transat, anticipates the conditions for the first few days of the race are going to be tough. “After a start in good conditions, the low-pressure system to the west of the Celtic Sea will bring strong south westerly winds,” said Dumard. – Read on