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Editor

we want susie, but...

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I have followed the online comments about the rescue of Susie Goodall, some with bemusement and some with disdain. Before I explain let’s recap what happened. Susie Goodall, a 28 year old British sailor was competing in the Golden Globe Race when her yacht was pitchpoled in the Southern Ocean. The yacht was dismasted and in pretty bad shape and Susie made the decision to seek rescue. Last Friday the Hong Kong registered cargo ship MV Tian Fu came to her aid and using a crane hoisted her off her stricken boat to the safety of the ship. Of the 18 sailors that set out from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on July 1 earlier this year, only seven remain in the race.

Eleven sailors have either been rescued or made it to port and some of the competitors are not yet halfway around the world. If truth be told it doesn’t look good for the event and its future and that has many asking whether the race officials should call the race off before someone dies.

So here is my take on this. Each sailor that had the idea to enter the race, that raised the money and made the extraordinary effort that it took to get to the start line knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. No one was coerced, no one was bribed. Nope they signed up willingly and enthusiastically and I think that they should be saluted for their courage and commitment not only to the sport of sailing and of adventure, but to humanity.

We need more Susie Goodall’s in this world. We need more people willing to push themselves and the limits as far as possible. New worlds would never have been discovered were it not for the brave seafarers that came before us. Heck, what if Columbus had said that the dangers were too high to take a risk? No, we need more, not fewer people out there pushing toward new horizons and if some of them come a cropper along the way then so be it. Lucking we now live in a modern, civilized society where they can be rescued. It wasn’t that way just a few decades ago. If you were gone you were truly gone.

I admire the concept of the Golden Globe Race, it’s purity and simplicity but I have to wonder if the kinds of boats being used make any sense. In the original Golden Globe Race that took place 50 years ago there was only one finisher; Robin Knox-Johnston aboard his 32 foot Bermudian ketch Suhaili. The rest of the fleet didn’t make it to the finish and that should have been fair warning for anyone entering this most recent race. Odds were pretty good that you were not going to make it around the world. So far there have been five dismasting and three rescues and most of the fleet are just over halfway around. There are a lot of potholes between where they are and the finish in France.

The thing about these boats is that when you are sailing in big seas like those found in the Southern Ocean speed is your friend and these full keel boats are dog slow. Furthermore with a full keel and a trim-tab type rudder, if your boat is pushed beam-on to an approaching wave they are not able to respond quick enough, the barn door of a keel sees to that, and you are left sideways at the mercy of whatever the ocean will toss your way.

One other thing to remember is this. The climate has changed a lot over the last few decades and the severity of the storms is increasing and there is simply no arguing that. I remember a time (not so long ago) where you could read the book Ocean Passages for the World and it would describe the best sailing route between major sailing destinations and if you followed the advice from the book it was pretty true to form; no longer. We used Pilot Charts in the early Whitbread Races and they would have wind vectors showing what wind speed and direction you could expect in a certain part of the ocean at a certain time of year but they are no longer accurate.

Too much has changed and not for the good. While it’s most definitely a mammoth task to sail a 100-foot trimaran around the world it’s a lot safer than a 30-footer. For starters they can see what weather to expect and get out of the way of bad storms. The Golden Globe sailors are at the mercy of whatever comes their way and even if they saw a massive front approaching their boats are too slow to do anything about it.

The next Golden Globe will take place in  2022. I am sure that there will be plenty of entries despite the damage done to this fleet. I hope that Don McIntyre, the founder and race organizer is able to fashion the next race so that it has the character of the original but is a lot safer.  And I hope that Susie Goodall returns.

 - Brian Hancock

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I agree, Editor.

This debate happens every year at the Isle of Man where there's more loss of life than any sailing race I'm aware of. Happy to be corrected on that.

There's some unique circumstances there which probably protect it; mainly being that the TT races and the (now) TT classic races are one of the Island's biggest revenue producers. Behind being a low tax jurisdiction...but otherwise the debate always ends on people having the free choice to compete or not. As a former bike racer who's been to the Isle of Man for the racing it's jaw dropping.

There's nothing wrong with people being risk averse, in my opinion, but I disagree with those who are risk averse wanting to control those who are risk takers. Yes, there's public cost to be considered, but when we start letting Dr's and so on dictate what the general public can do we've let the tail wag the dog. Just my 2 cents

Edited by tp#12
forgot the first line ...
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A lot of the boats are simply not suitable. As long as no one loses their life or nobody complains about having to rescue them then why not? That being said I would prefer to see the sea keeping abilities of the boats improve, not sure how this could ever be done? The risk to human life is great though as it stands.

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59 minutes ago, M26 said:

..

Thank you for your deep thought.

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There’s a 36page thread next door which is far less out of touch than the shit opening this one. Someone go and tell the Ed his account’s been hacked.

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The problem here is the rather confused thinking that says you must have a 50 year old boat and equipment but you can carry EPERB and satphone just in case - and according to today's report the organisers  are now giving outside assistance. 

'We have just advised Istvan to head south as fast as possible," said Race Chairman Don McIntyre. "We hope he can make at least 180 miles, which is the lower marker on the distance track. We then have to hope the forecast track of this storm will be correct.

"Going south has risks because it takes him closer to the center of the storm and sudden wind shift zone? But if he gets south he may miss the worst of it.

"Yesterday we alerted Istvan to run east as fast as possible to try and outrun the worst of the weather, but since then the storm has intensified and changed direction. It is for Istvan to decide what to do. GGR can only offer advice and we are updating him every 12 hours.”'

I cannot see the point of handicapping the competitors in this way. It does not really achieve anything. Surely the goal should always be to improve safety and performance which is what has been going on since the original GGR. Sailing around the world alone in a safer faster more modern yacht is still a major achievement for any sailor. I accept that going the full Vendée package makes it too expensive for many who would aspire but there is no logic in restricting to >50year old technology - especially as even that restriction is incomplete.

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9 hours ago, Editor said:

We need more Susie Goodall’s in this world. We need more people willing to push themselves and the limits as far as possible. New worlds would never have been discovered were it not for the brave seafarers that came before us. Heck, what if Columbus had said that the dangers were too high to take a risk? No, we need more, not fewer people out there pushing toward new horizons and if some of them come a cropper along the way then so be it. Lucking we now live in a modern, civilized society where they can be rescued. It wasn’t that way just a few decades ago. If you were gone you were truly gone.

You have to be in a rinky dink race to be a Susie Goodall?  Jeanne Socrates is rounding ATM all on her lonesome.  Pity there's no-one else in the world pushing the limits.

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3 hours ago, southerncross said:

Pity there's no-one else in the world pushing the limits.

Examples...see Jerome Rand: https://www.pointseast.com/mass-sailor-finishes-solo-circumnavigation/

And see Donna Lange:

https://www.donnalange.com/donna-lange

(I suppose that’s one large part of the appeal of the GGR.  You can in fact buy a basic, cheap Westsail 32, say, dump $50k or whatever into it, and have a suitable boat.  But will you, yourself, be ready...different story!)

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This race is based on the assumption that if a competitor gets into trouble then a merchant ship will divert to rescue the sailor - since the chances of a fellow competitor being able to offer help in the Southern Ocean are negligible. The costs involved in this sort of rescue are enormous and are not borne by the sailors or the race organisers. Sailors "following their dream" need to be wary about exploiting the goodwill of fellow mariners. 

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9 hours ago, jekyll said:

 there is no logic in restricting to >50year old technology - especially as even that restriction is incomplete.

I agree it’s not entirely easy to “get”, especially when the restrictions are “incomplete”, as you put it.  I see it simply as an imperfect atempt to craft a simpler yet tougher event.

Donna Lange, for example, rightfully brags about completing a nonstop solo circumnavigation using only sextant and SSB for navigation and communication (and on a Southern Cross 28!)  https://www.donnalange.com/donna-lange  Surely, that’s an accomplishment that earns you bragging rights, compared to doing it on a highly funded, onshore weather routed corporate-sponsored race boat that someone else owns?  

Trying going open ocean sailing for 7-8 months with only >50 year old technology...few could do it, is my guess.

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16 hours ago, Editor said:

 

One other thing to remember is this. The climate has changed a lot over the last few decades and the severity of the storms is increasing and there is simply no arguing that. 

 

Too much has changed and not for the good. While it’s most definitely a mammoth task to sail a 100-foot trimaran around the world it’s a lot safer than a 30-footer. 

I can't cop this guy Brian H..... climate has changed "a lot"  Really..?

100 ft Trimaran is a lot safer than a 30 footer..... again, Really..?

I'm not sure why Scott lets this guy write articles for SA... He was utterly offensive in his ramblings during the Volvo... 

 

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13 hours ago, PIL66 said:

I can't cop this guy Brian H..... climate has changed "a lot"  Really..?

100 ft Trimaran is a lot safer than a 30 footer..... again, Really..?

I'm not sure why Scott lets this guy write articles for SA... He was utterly offensive in his ramblings during the Volvo... 

 

Strongly agree about BH. Maybe he does it just to be "controversial"?

Yes, I also admire Susie.

But the race itself? and the wisdom of trying to run one like this in this era?

I was in favour, thought it was a great idea before the race, but having seen what has actually transpired I have had second thoughts. It simply isn't possible to re-create the conditions of the original race when all the competitors know what they know now and cannot possibly have comparable backgrounds to those of the original competitors. It was also pretty senseless to restrict the boat type choice so severely, especially as that may have unintentionally led to most competitors choosing a boat which seems to have proved far from ideal. The original competitors were free to choose their own boats without much restriction, and Moitessier seems to have made a good choice, not much like a Rustler 36.

All in all I conclude that time has indeed moved on. The original Golden Globe was an amazing adventure for sailors of that era and based on the technology and finances available to them at the time. It cannot be replicated. Sadly, this retro concept is never likely to work well for a race format in this modern age.

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20 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Examples

I was being sarcastic.

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The race is unfolding as I expected. I don’t understand the hand wringing. It’s going to be amazing to see if ANY finish!

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I note with interest your comments about historical weather information. I first went to sea 52 years ago and the Mariner's handbook (Admiralty Pub) was our principal source of information about world weather and currents. The frequency for Cyclones in NW Australia was given at less than 1 per year. (This is just a pice of random information that I have retained!) The information at that time was mainly gleaned from Ship reporting and a scattering of weather observation stations for example manned Light houses. Since then the development of the mining and Oil industries has raised awareness of the number of cyclones in the area which, in my 25years of Skippering Offshore Support vessels in that area I would suggest are more than 5 per annum which is confirmed by the Australian Gov'ts BOM.

I would suggest that the apparent increase in southern ocean storms is an increased accuracy in reporting: Likewise for Tropical storm activity where media increases awareness. I tend to take alarmist warnings about increased severity of weather events with a large pinch of salt: Certainly I have noted no major changes during my career at sea.

As to the Golden Globe, whilst Robin Knox Johnson was the only one to finish Bernard Montissier created a new finishing line in Tahiti rather than sail north to France.

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2 hours ago, alctel said:

Was there any comment on why her JSD didn't work?

She reported it had "parted way" with the boat.

I was left with the impression the bridle snapped.

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1 hour ago, BarfBag said:

She reported it had "parted way" with the boat.

I was left with the impression the bridle snapped.

Probably chafe then... Are there any pictures of her mounting setup?

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On 12/13/2018 at 8:08 PM, HFC Hunter said:

There’s a 36page thread next door which is far less out of touch than the shit opening this one. 

This

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Why does anyone read Hancock's rubbish?

Did you know he has sailed around the world?

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On 12/17/2018 at 5:21 AM, DtM said:

Why does anyone read Hancock's rubbish?

 

He needs to add the letter ‘D’ in his surname. 

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Dear Mr Hancock

you write. ”...if you followed the advice from the book it was pretty true to form; no longer. We used Pilot Charts in the early Whitbread Races and they would have wind vectors showing what wind speed and direction you could expect in a certain part of the ocean at a certain time of year but they are no longer accurate.”

Is this a hunch or is there data to back this up?

Thanks for your reply. 

Best

Max Mulhern

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