How to qualify for the Global Solo Challenge

There must be thousands of sailors worldwide who dream of sailing around the world, non-stop and alone.

Just you and your boat overcoming the elements and achieving one of the pinnacles of yachting aspiration.

Up until now, for most of us, the dream of taking part in a circumnavigational race or challenge has tended to remain just that, a dream. This is mainly because of the costs involved. You needed a vast amount of money to put into the project, and this ultimately meant, that this challenge was normally the preserve of professional sailors, many of whom were sponsored by large corporations.

Sailor holding clumps of tangled sheets in cockpit.
Rope chaos. Credit – GSC

The Global Solo Challenge is a more egalitarian and eco-friendly event, where the use of second-hand yachts is positively encouraged, and the size of the yachts is limited to what are generally reasonably priced boats.

So, could you do it?

Reading the profiles of the skippers already entered, most of them have considerable sailing experience and are aware of the expertise, and mental and physical fortitude needed to survive this challenge on their own.

Just think about the aspect of being alone for such a length of time. No one to chat to, no one to bounce ideas off, no one to cheer you up when things are not going right or when you are cold, wet and tired because the weather has been miserable for a sustained period.

So if you think that you have the required expertise and fortitude, you must then ask yourself if you have the organisational skills to plan for such an adventure?

You will need to plan for this challenge financially, and whilst this may be nowhere near the expenditure to take part in races such as the Vendée Globe, there are of course financial considerations.

You will need to ensure the boat is the right one and you have the skill to handle some of the heaviest sea conditions known. You will have to ensure that the boat meets the exacting safety standards set by the event organisers, and plan for alterations and additional equipment for the boat as required. You will have to plan for anything that could go wrong, from a torn sail, to a capsize, to a medical emergency.

You will have to plan provisions. You will have to be an expert in weather predictionnavigationcommunicationselectrical and mechanical engineering.

The rules themselves are available on the Global Solo Challenge’s website, however, I need to highlight certain aspects. The minimum age is 18, but there is no upper age limit. You need to be a qualified sailor, in accordance with your Country’s regulations and you need to be qualified in medical care, personal survival and the use of life rafts. The boat must comply with the GSC regulations.

If you meet all the criteria, you will also be required to sail 2,000 nautical miles in the yacht that you are going to use in the challenge and that distance has to be sailed single-handed and non-stop over an approved course. Just to put this distance in perspective, this is the approximate distance from A Coruña in Spain to the Inuit community of Rigolet, Labrador, Canada.

Perspective from cockpit as boat sailing with storm sails.
The minimum age to enter the GSC is 18. Credit – GSC

Apart from these requirements, the criteria for qualification for this challenge is predominantly down to the individual skipper to know if he has the personal attributes to take on this adventure.

When asked “What do you think will be the biggest challenge?” Italian entrant Simone Camba said, “Getting to the starting line…”

For more on the GSC, see:

Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
NAV at Home
West Systems