When it comes to good old fashioned seamanship where mankind pits his skills and endurance against everything that mother nature can throw at them while crossing the ocean the Golden Globe Race is probably at the very pinnacle.
It has been nearly eight months since 16 of the bravest sailors in the world set out to conquer the oceans.
Using just the wind and a simple sextant, this epic solo round-the-world sailing race has been undertaken with no stopovers and no technology.
There were 16 skippers on the starting line, but only three of them can claim the title. Two more of them will complete their circumnavigation, but out of the race, after having made a stopover to repair their boat.
The other 11 have had to give up, hit hard by a merciless race that breaks men, boats… and dreams.
Just last week, skipper Ian Herbert-Jones [United Kingdom] paid the price. Victim of a violent storm off the coast of Tierra del Fuego, the Briton was shipwrecked after leaving Picton, his port of call. Rescued by a Taiwanese ship, he is now safe and sound.
In Les Sables d’Olonne, the locals and the whole Vendée region are getting ready to welcome these heroes who are starting a final sprint off Portugal.
The first skippers are expected in the last week of April after completing the longest sporting event in the world, the Golden Globe Race, the forerunner of the Vendée Globe.
The three contenders are:
Kirsten Neuschäfer [South Africa], the first woman to have rounded Cape Horn at the head of a solo round-the-world race. This incredible adventurer also made her mark on the race by saving the life of a competitor and shipwrecked sailor Tapio Lehtinen [Finland].
Abhilash Tomy [India], former commander of the Indian Navy. This MacGyver of the seas and 2018 GGR survivor sacrificed his bathroom door as well as his chart table to repair his ship.
Michael Guggenberger [Austria], aka ‘Captain Gugg’. A relentless dreamer who just might catch up with the two forerunners.