Spectacularly emotional start to Ocean Globe

50 years of sailing history on display on the Solent

10th September 2023

  • The 50th anniversary of the Whitbread honoured with perfect start.
  • Emotional scenes at final farewell for 144 crew departing on Leg 1 of the Ocean Globe Race. Southampton to Cape Town 
  • 1973 Whitbread relived as Royal Yacht Squadron cannons signal start of the OGR
  • Hundreds of spectator boats flood the Solent supporting the 14 iconic yacts.
  • Translated 9 ITL (09), Pen Duick VI FR (14) and Explorer AU (28) neck-and-neck across the line.

History was made anew today as the cannons of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, signaled the start of the inaugural McIntyre Ocean Globe mirroring the original 1973 Whitbread. Hundreds of spectators boats witnessed the stunning scenes as the 14 iconic yachts crossed the start line en route to Cape Town. With seven former Whitbread yachts amongst the fleet, the OGR has its roots firmly in sailing history but now also looking to the future for sailors chasing adventure and a life less ordinary.

An extremely busy day, it started early with crews surrendering all modern technology for the next forty-plus days. The OGR, a retro race in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race, means no computers, no GPS, and no high-tech materials. Sextants and paper charts will guide those taking on the infamous Cape Horn, Southern Ocean and brain melting doldrums.

Then tearful, final farewells at MDL Ocean Village marina as family and friends waved off those embarking on their epic eight-month adventure. Teams paraded from the race village to the pontoons after each receiving a commemorative gold coin.

“WOW! What a fantastic start that not only brought back memories of the past but set the scene for an eight month battle around the world. This is going to be quite an adventure and to top that, EXPLORER won the start! The objective is to finish and that is a long way to go. Good luck to all the crews.” said Don McIntyre Race Founder and Sponsor.

Emotions overflowed as lines slipped at 09:30 am, Explorer AU (28) and Steran SFA (42) leading the fleet towards the Royal Yacht Squadron start line, Cowes, for the 13:00hrs start. They were followed at five-minute intervals by Galiana WithSecure FI (06), Neptune FR (56), Maiden UK (03), Spirit of Helsinki FI (71), Translated 9 IT (09), White Shadow ESP (17), Outlaw AU (08), L’Esprit d’équipe FR (85), Evrika FR (07), Triana FR (66), Godspeed USA (01) and finally Pen Duick VI FR (14).

It was the sight of skipper Marie Tabarly at the helm of Pen Duick VI exiting MDL Ocean Village marina that summed up what the McIntyre OGR means to so many people. Pen Duick VI was dismasted twice in the 1973 Whitbread when skippered by Marie’s father, Éric Tabarly. Neptune, Spirit of Helsinki (formerly Frazer), Translated 9 (formerly ADC Accutrac), Outlaw (formerly Equity and Law) and Maiden, all Whitbread veterans. L’Esprit d’équipe a former Whitbread winner also returned. There’s a lot to prove in this race.

Being the only UK entrant, Maiden proved popular with the local crowds with a rapturous cheer sending them on their way. The all-female team were waved off by Tracy Edwards MBE, who skippered Maiden for the 1989 Whitbread.

L’Espit d’équipe, Whitbread winner (1985). She has competed three times and so felt and looked right at home on the start line.

The predicted light winds might have suited the many supporters on RIBs and smaller vessels but made navigating slightly more challenging for the yachts. Meanwhile the 200 guests onboard the official start boat, the Steamship Shieldhall, enjoyed the prized vantage point for the start line.

At 13:00hr the Royal Yacht Squadron cannons signaled the start of the much-anticipated race. The rain stopped, the sun came out and the wind blew just enough. With a 1 knot tide ebbing westerly for the first hour and a East, North Easterly wind blowing 10 knots, tactics were crucial.

Brian Hancock, OGR race commentator, sailed in the 1981 Whitbread on Alaska Eagle and in the 1985 edition race on Drum. He was on the startline and understood exactly what this race means to people.

“I did this race when I was just a nipper and it feels exactly the same today. The same enthusiasm, the same spirit, it’s just spectacular. The start was great, no problems, no incidents. It really, really feels like we’re back in the 1970s.” Said by Brian.

By early afternoon the fleet were passing the Needles, spinnakers were flying and the crews were settling into their watches.

The results of years of commitment, determination and desire to step outside the norm and have a life changing adventure is being realised as the yachts heel over, pick up the wind and embark on their 6,500 mile journey into the unknown.

Good luck to you all, hold on and enjoy the ride!!! And for those following – this is going to be exciting! Sailing like its 1973!!!

The Route

  •  Leg 1: 6500 miles. Southampton to Cape Town
  •  Leg 2: 6650 miles. Cape Town to Auckland. Start date – 5th November 2023 
  •  Leg 3: 8500 miles. Auckland to Punta del Este. Start date – 14th March 2024
  •  Leg 4: 5500 miles. Punta del Este to Southampton. Start date – 5th March 2024
  •  Finish Expected: 1-10 April 2024

Read full article on the OGR website

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