The Global Solo Challenge
The Global Solo Challenge (GSC) is a single-handed around the world east-about sailing Event, without outside assistance, for sailors seeking the challenge of a solo circumnavigation under the umbrella of an affordable, well organised and controlled event that puts the safety of participants first. All technical details regarding entry requirements and Event format are detailed in the Notice of Event.
WHO CAN ENTER?
The range of boats permitted in the Event is wide. From classic, long keel blue water cruisers to relatively modern fast cruisers and even some racing boats, though some limitations have been set. In fact, to keep budgets under control the Organisers do not wish anyone to build a boat specifically for the Event. This is also an environmental consideration so, in general, boats built after 2005 are not admitted although exceptions can be made for applicants who already own a suitable boat and simply wish to enter the Event. Please visit the Boat Designs page for more information on this subject and read the Notice of Event for detailed entry criteria.
If you have a boat and does not seem to fit some of the general parameters please enquire providing details, ultimately groups starts may still vary subject to demand.
WHAT TYPE OF BOAT CAN ENTER?
Each entry in the Event must comply with the stringent Global Solo Challenge Regulations and obtain the Organiser’s final approval. The likely size of boats that will take part in the Event will range from approximately 35ft to around 50ft.
Historically, many capable boats of these types and lengths have proven that a circumnavigation is possible. After all the first ever non-stop solo circumnavigation was completed by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on a 32ft cruising boat in 1968 during the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race . The famous navigator and writer Bernard Moitessier also took part in that event on a 39ft cruising boat.
Much has changed since 1968. Therefore, the Organisers demand additional requirements, preventing light-weight coastal racers and a limit on build date from entry. An important aim of the Event is that a participant’s budget should not determine the first boat to cross the finish line.
Some more recent racing boats are allowed in the Event, but with a mitigating twist: Boats in this group will start a whole 4 weeks later than anyone else and they will have to prove on the water that they really are that much faster!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
A circumnavigation by the three great capes is approximately 26,000 Nautical miles long. Because the Event admits boats that are widely different in design and performance, the faster boats are expected to take around 140 days to complete the circumnavigation whilst the slower ones could take in excess of 200 days.
The final decision on where the start and finish lines will be has yet to be decided, and could affect these calculations, so currently they are given as an indication only.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Event has a unique format aimed at making it a budget friendly yet interesting event to enter for a wide range of boats. The Organisers also wish to deliver an Event that is easy and engaging to follow for the public at home with a simple basic principle: The first boat to cross the finish line wins.
The Organisers could have created classes that divided boats by length, but there is such a variety of designs that two forty footers could have extremely different performances and hence length alone cannot be used as a predictor of expected passage time.
For this reason, the Organisers will group entries by the performance characteristics of each boat, creating homogeneous groups which will set-off in time-staggered starts.
The Organisers envisage a total of 6 groups of boats. The first 5, mainly populated by cruisers and fast cruisers will set off one week apart from slowest to fastest. An additional 6th group is reserved for large blue water cruiser-racers and racing boats. These will have to prove their worth at sea by setting off a whole 8 weeks after the smaller boats in the slowest group with some substantial catching up to do.
ONCE AT SEA, THERE ARE NO CLASSES
Once at sea, there are no classes. All boats will be sailing the same Event – the first boat home will win. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest aboard and a fascinating event for the public following.
A tremendous number of calculations and simulations have been undertaken to create a fair Event for each participant so that budget should not be one of the main discriminatory factors in deciding which boat to use for the Event.
In round-the-world sailing events often the first possibility of rescue following an incident comes from another competitor in the same event. Therefore, an important safety benefit in staggering the starts is that the fleet should close together as it approaches the infamous southern Pacific point Nemo and the highly challenging passage of Cape Horn.
ARE THESE BOATS SAFE FOR A CIRCUMNAVIGATION?
Each boat entering the Event must satisfy the stringent Global Solo Challenge Regulations, which are based on the established best practices set out by World Sailing in their Offshore Special Regulation for Category Zero Events. These are Trans-oceanic events which pass through areas in which air or sea temperatures are likely to be less than 5°C (41°F) and where boats must be completely self-sufficient for very extended periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance.
Boats will therefore be likely to require certain modifications to meet the regulations. Each boat will be inspected before receiving approval to take part in the Event.
The Organisers have engaged Josh Hall, an experienced round the world sailor; event organiser and project manager with extensive experience in crisis at sea management, to oversee safety requirements and regulations of the Event. Also, in the event of an emergency during the Event, Josh will oversee any assistance or rescue operations that arise in coordination with the appropriateSearch and Rescue authorities.
RISKS SHOULD BE MITIGATED WHERE AT ALL POSSIBLE
It must be stated that there are risks in attempting a circumnavigation under sail. Risks should be mitigated where at all possible, but cannot be completely eliminated.
The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in the Event or continue racing is hers alone. The safety of a boat and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the Person in Charge who shall do his/her best to ensure that the boat is fully found and thoroughly seaworthy.
The Event’s Organisers have put in place stringent requirements for boats and participants. Boats must comply with the Global Solo Challenge Regulations and the skippers must be medically fit for the Event. Each competitor must also complete a qualification passage on the boat entered in the Event as well as undertaking medical and survival at sea training.
In addition to the above, the Organisers plan to provide training modules, seminars and online resources to aid the skippers in preparing for a safe navigation.
A FANTASTIC PERSONAL ADVENTURE
At first sight the Global Solo Challenge might look like a fantastic personal adventure, which it is. However, it should not to be undertaken lightly as each entrant will face a lengthy period of boat preparation and personal training in order to participate.
Every effort will be made to make this a safe Event. However, each participant must carefully consider, under his/her sole responsibility, if this Event is right for them in the knowledge that the Organiser’s efforts in providing an organised event and the provision for entry requirements and Event Regulations do not substitute for or limit in any way the sole and inescapable responsibility of a participant in deciding to enter the Event.
WHEN WILL IT TAKE PLACE?
The Event will start in September 2023 with the first group of smaller and slower boats setting of on Saturday 2nd September 2023 at 1300 UTC. The last group of fast boats, aptly named Super-Zero will set off a whole 8 weeks later on October 28th, 2023 at 1300 UTC. Depending on where start and finish will be set the first boat home is not expected before mid-February 2024.
WHERE WILL THE START AND FINISH BE?
The start and finish ports have not been decided but will be on the eastern side of the North Atlantic. Likely places could be Spain, Portugal, the Canaries, France or the UK. The choice of the port(s) will have to suit the needs of the participants. For the start port, skippers will likely still be working on their boat’s preparation and will need easy access to supplies. As for the finish port, which could differ from the start port, a consideration will be the typical formation of strong North-Easterly trade winds north of the doldrums making the approach to Europe somewhat more challenging.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The Event is open to anyone with the right combination of skill and determination to achieve a single-handed around the world circumnavigation without outside assistance. As Val Howells, one of the pioneering competitors of the original 1960 OSTAR, once said – we do it to expand the envelope.
THE SPIRIT OF THE EVENT
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