GSC – An insight into Cole Brauer’s future

By Marco Nannini  / Global Solo Challenge
Where to begin to tell you about the fantastic, emotional, monumental day that it was yesterday as we witness Cole Brauer make history sailing her aptly named Class40 “First Light” into A Coruna just as darkness was giving way to a beautiful day of celebrations.

Cole had informed the organisation at around 2 am that she intended to slow down just enough to time her arrival with the beginning of the new day. She was initially expected to cross the finish line at around 5:30 am but she eventually did at 8:23 local time, after 130 days 2 hours and 45 minutes at sea. The fastest known time for a solo circumnavigation on a 40ft boat which can’t be ratified as an official record, but which effectively improves the reference record time set by the late Guo Chuan in 2016.

By 5 am we were ready to head out on our rib with two photographers and two special guests, Philippe Delamare, winner of the Global Solo Challenge on February 24th and Dafydd Hughes, the first to start his circumnavigation on August 26th last year. He was one of the protagonists of the first half of the event, with his cheerful and humorous blogs. Unfortunately he ended up deciding to retire in Hobart following autopilot issues but having earned great admiration from all the world around, as he was on the smallest, slowest, oldest boat in the fleet and his achievement in sailing halfway around the world should not be underestimated.

After heading out past the iconic Tower of Hercules we began trying to spot which of the faint lights on the horizon may be Cole’s boat, it was still a dark moonless night. When we finally made visual contact, it was very emotional, again my heart skipped a beat just like when I had spotted the orange hull of Philippe Delamare’s Mowgli riding huge waves just over a week ago.

The conditions were ideal for her arrival, the seastate was not difficult and the wind ranged from around 15 to just over 20 knots in the gusts. Enough, however, to make the ride on the short choppy waves stirred up by the southeasterly winds bumpy on the rib, the live broadcast was more than just shakey, and the attempts to take photos were initially quite difficult until more light allowed for faster shutter speeds.

As Cole closed into the bay things improved and the moment she lit her flares to cross the finish line will remain etched in history. After docking at Marina Coruna it was a whirlwind of joy, tears and emotions. Offshore solo sailing is a sport of great sportsmanship and camaraderie and Philippe Delamare was there for Cole; the same tradition exists in the Vendée Globe.

The bond that these sailors have formed directly or indirectly through their circumnavigation will last for life, so much so that one sailor, whose name I now unfortunately forget, when asked why he sailed solo, he responded “I do it to make friends”. It was Philippe Delamare that presented Cole Brauer with her Global Solo Challenge trophy before hugging her, visibly emotional.

Finally all tension was released in a jubilee of celebrations as she slammed a magnum of champagne on the dock generating an explosion spray and joy that drew in all those standing by and welcoming Cole.

In a matter of hours American media was on fire: ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, New York Daily News, New York Post, Fox News and many more, together with local press and all the sailing related websites in Europe and around the world, immediately covered the story. It was just the moment where all of Cole’s efforts were coming together, and we believe this is just the beginning for her.

So much has been already written about Cole in the space of 24 hours that the risk of repeating what you have read already is great. So I want to give a different perspective and insight and have a peak at what the future may hold for her.

Cole has already announced she intends to start campaigning for the 2028 Vendée Globe and as Philippe Delamare jokingly said, “when she’ll be at the start line of the Vendée Globe  I will be able to go around telling everyone I know Cole! I was the guy who presented  her the trophy at the Global Solo Challenge!”

In an article written just prior to her landing I have explained the many reasons that lead me to feel sure she will attain the goal, modern offshore solo sailing, at the pro elite level requires a variety of skills combined and I strongly believe Cole ticks all the boxes to allow her to take the giant leap from a Global Solo Challenge to a Vendée Globe.

The scale of a Vendée Globe campaign compared to a Global Solo Challenge stands at the very least at a ratio of 10 to 1 in terms of complexity, financial commitment, skill level of the pro elite sailors and competence of the shore team that accompany the skipper during a campaign…

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Continue reading on the GSC Website… 

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