Having communicated with a number of the other GGR skippers, there is a warm feeling of international comradery and unity, a truly global spirit of common purpose and community. While the GGR is indeed a race, it is also a joint venture of thirty skippers, the race organizers, and all of our supporting crew and personnel and families.
We are at once competing in a race while also engaging in a communal effort involving serious risks, and while yes it is a race, we are also there for each other. There is no doubt that any member of this community would put competition aside to come to the aid of another. This is what the rest of the world should be like, everywhere. We are a living, acting, example of how people should live on this planet, alone in our boats, separated by high seas and low horizons, and yet knowing that we are all out there together, first and foremost not to get around the world first, but first and foremost to have everyone get around the world alive, for everyone to finish so that we can all celebrate together.
So I write this, somewhat hesitantly, in spite of the borderless spirit, with the hope of being able to maintain both friendly competition and national pride without corrupting our shared humanity.
While America has faired well in sailing competition over the last several decades, the British, French, and Australians historically dominate the scene. Sir Robin explicitly expressed the importance of a Brit being the first to solo circumnavigate nonstop, and thus Britain is established in that role for all time. He thought it was just right and proper that Britain should hold that honor. And while Bernard Moitessier, French, declined the honor of such a trophy, “to save my soul,” he said, he nonetheless holds that honor in the eyes of many of us in the sailing world. His accomplishment in the 1968 GGR technically surpassed that of Sir Robin.
The 2018 Golden Globe Race, the 50th year commemoration of that original historical event, at least holds out the possibility for us Americans to demonstrate our merit as a sailing nation by making a good showing in a contemporary international sailing competition.
In terms of the 2018 GGR, America may be considered an underdog, and it is not without at once a little humility and a little pride that I admit to my position overall in this fleet as unquestionably the underdog. While perhaps one of the older skippers, I was over 40 when I first set foot on a sailboat, in spite of it having been a lifelong dream. (More about that elsewhere.) And it was still another five or six years before I finally let go and put out the thousands required to take some sailing courses. I have always been a self taught, DIY’er, and I was reluctant to take this on in a “school” for sailing, but I have no regrets. I am getting older, which doesn’t mean, yet, that I feel I’m losing capability, but I’m definitely much more conscious of time. I can no longer afford to let years slip by without acting on my lifelong ambitions. So I am by far the least experienced of all the sailors in the GGR fleet. And yet, I have every reason to expect that I can win this race, or more accurately, I have no reason to believe I cannot, and indeed it is a race as the name conveys, and I never go into a race I do not intend, and expect, to win!