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Philippe Péché gets head start

Philippe Péché first to cross the line

Philippe Péché gets head start from Les Sables d’Olonne at start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

Dateline Les Sables d’Olonne France: 1 July 2018

They have 30,000 miles to sail over the next 9-10 months, but judging from the start today of the 2018 Golden Globe solo non-stop around the world yacht race from Les Sables d’Olonne, the leaders will be fighting over every mile.

First to cross the line at Noon (CEST) was the fiercely competitive Frenchman Philippe Péché aboard his Rustler 36 PRB. He has ensured that she is one of the lightest in the 18-strong fleet, and carrying a huge lightweight genoa, Péché pulled out a 100 metre lead within minutes of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the first GGR 50 years before, had fired the canon from the deck of his historic yacht Suhaili.

Behind him, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who has five previous circumnavigations to his credit and at 73, is the oldest skipper in this Race, appeared to tangle with Tapio Lehtinen’s Finnish yacht Asteria, and one hour after the start were still locked in a 3-way tie with Dutchman Mark Slats (Ohpen Maverick) for third place. Their regatta style tactics allowed Russia’s Igor Zaretskiy to sail his Endurance 35 Esmeralda quietly into second place.

Another in the mix was Are Wiig’s 32ft Norwegian double-ender Olleanna along with Indian Navy pilot Abhilash Tomy sailing a wooden replica of Sir Robin’s Suhaili.

By contrast, Britain’s Susie Goodall, who raised by far the biggest send-off from the dock, kept her Rustler 36 DHL Starlight well clear of other yachts and made a good mid fleet start in line with Istvan Kopar’s American yacht Puffin, fellow British entrant Ertan Bescardes (Lazy Otter) and Antoine Cousot’s French Biscay 36 Métier Intérim.

Trailing these boats last night was a third group led by Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin sailing the Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance just ahead of Frenchman Loïc Lepage (Laaland) and the two Australian entrants, Kevin Farebrother’s Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha, and Mark Sinclair’s Lello 34 Coconut.

The dark horse within the fleet appears to be Nabil Amra’s Palestinian flagged Biscay 36 Liberty II, which was one of the last boats across the line but last night was flying through the fleet at 4.6knots as apposed to 4.2 for the leaders. Like Igor Zaretskiy, he is taking a more southerly route towards Cape Finistere while others were heading well out into the Bay of Biscay in the hope of finding stronger winds.

One skipper, Italy’s Francesco Cappelletti, remains in port preparing his Endurance 35 007. The yacht has still to pass safety inspection and Cappelletti has yet to complete 3 days of solo sailing trials. He has until Noon next Saturday to beat the deadline to join the race.

The leading yachts are expected to reach the first ‘gate’ set off Lanzarote in the Canaries around 11th July to hand across film and letters. The Race is expected to take 9-10 months with the leaders taking between 240-250 days to complete the voyage unaided.

Today, technical partner announced that they would provide a £5,000 cash prize the for the fastest skipper around the world – the same amount that the Sunday Times newspaper posted for its race 50 years ago.

How to follow the race.
The yachts are being tracked by satellite. Visit for latest positions.


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2 days to the start

17 sailors from 12 Countries will set out from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday

Dateline Les Sables d’Olonne France: 26 June 2018

The event led to Britain’s Sir Robin Knox-Johnston becoming the first man to sail solo non stop around the globe and had French sailing icon Bernard Moitessier continue east after rounding Cape Horn to make a second loop around the world ‘to save my soul’ from what he saw as an increasingly commercial world.

Suhaili, Knox-Johnston’s famous yacht from which he will fire the starting canon at 12:05 on Sunday, left seven other broken boats and dreams in her wake, including Donald Crowhurst whose tragic story and eventual suicide has been replayed in the recent Hollywood movie THE MERCY.

Alex Carozzo, the 86 year old veteran from the 1968/9 race who was forced to spend 5 days sitting on a mooring in isolation off Cowes England, completing preparations to his 60ft yacht, while the rest were making ground around the world, has been watching his own story replayed here by fellow Italian Francesco Cappelletti, the 40-year old professional sailor from Pisa. Delays in the preparation of his Endurance 35 Esmeralda in Italy, led to the yacht being shipped by road directly to Les Sables d’Olonne, arriving here on Monday. She is now rigged and in the water, but Cappelletti still has a mountain to climb to finish his preparations, load stores and complete 3 days of solo trials before the start line closes for late starters at Noon on Saturday 7th July.
“It is disappointing. I would much prefer to be ready now, but I expect to pass safety inspections on Monday, complete my sailing trials by Thursday and start either on Friday or Saturday morning.” He said today.

Nabil Amra, the American/Palestinian entrant who has also had a fight again time to be ready on time, finally passed safety inspections shortly before the Noon deadline today.

The 17 starters are:

  • Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
  • Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
  • Are Wiig (DEN) OE 32 Olleanna
  • Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
  • Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
  • Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda
  • Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
  • Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
  • Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
  • Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
  • Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut
  • Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
  • Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
  • Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
  • Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
  • Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
  • Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All

***Late starter: Francesco Cappelletti (ITI) Endurance 35 007

How to watch the Golden Globe Race start live on Sunday 1st July

(all times UTC+2 (CEST) :

11:30 – 12:30: Live coverage of the Race start will broadcast by France 3 TV ***This feed is available free to all broadcasters Click here for Satellite download details.

9:00 – 11:30: Random Facebook live commentary of dock scenes and departures on

11:30 – 12:30: Live feed from France 3 TV broadcast will also be broadcast with English and French commentaries on the GGR Facebook page

Philippe Péché – PRB free to air VNRs:

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Race start program

Race Day, July 1st

Les Sables d’Olonne, France

Departing Pontoon Vendee Globe for the channel:

  • 08.30am IMOCA boats (Team Setin, Ant-Arctic-Lab) committee boat (La Belle Poule)
  • 09:00am Olonnois boats
  • 09:15-09:30am Classic Yachts depart together from both sides of marina (Courtesy fleet).
  • 09h30 -9h45am Cap’n Brown, GypsyMoth, Joshua, Suhaili
  • 09:45am GGR Race yachts start to leave the harbour.
  • 12:00pm Start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race with live coverage on France 3, Chaine Team, TV Vendée, Tébésud, Tébéo, TVR and in English on the official GGR Facebook page.

What to do & see

There will be a parade in the Les Sables d’Olonne channel, starting at 8:35am and finishing in the channel at 11 am. GGR skippers will depart in two minute intervals from 09.45am onwards and be visible in the channel shortly after the first departures.

If you cannot make the start in France, the start will be broadcast in French & English on the official GGR Facebook page / Live FB

Tourist Boat

50 € to be on Fromentine boat. There are still 120 places as at 29 June – call LSO Tourism office at 02 51 96 85 85 dial 1 or buy it at the Tourism Office (same building as Casino and Congress Area promenade Lafarge (remblai)). The boat leaves from Quai Alain Gerbaud down the Port Authority (Capitainerie) at 9:30.

Skippers order of departure

  1. Antoine Cousot
  2. Gregor McGuckin
  3. Igor Zaretskiy
  4. Istvan Kopar
  5. Loic Lepage
  6. Mark Sinclair
  7. Nabil Amra
  8. Tapio lehtinen
  9. Kevin Farebrother
  10. Jean Luc
  11. Are Wigg
  12. Uku Randmaa
  13. Philippe Peche
  14. Mark Slats
  15. Susie Goodall
  16. Ertan Beskardes
  17. Abhilash Tomy

Race Village opening times:

Saturday: Open 10am to 2am
Sunday: Open 7am to 6pm


Accredited media can park on the parking next to the media center.


Les Sables d’Olonne streets will be closed – no parking, no traffic – from fishing harbour, along beach side Remblai to Guynemer Street – on the other side of channel La Chaume area from Super U store to Prieuré Saint Nicolas.

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5 days to the start

5 days to the start

5 days to the start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race from Les Sables d’Olonne

Dateline Les Sables d’Olonne France: 26 June 2018

With five days to the start, the Golden Globe Race Village in Les Sables d’Olonne is buzzing with activity as 18 skippers and their teams from 13 countries work feverishly to be ready for the Noon start on Sunday.

The skipper with the biggest mountain to climb is Italian Francesco Cappelletti who’s Endurance 35 007 arrived by road only last Friday. She’s been launched and rigged since, but her completion is far from complete and Capelletti has still to make three days of solo sea trials in her.

Fifty years ago fellow Italian Alex Carozo, one of the nine starters in the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race faced a similar problem with his boat and sat on a mooring in isolation for 5 days after the start deadline, completing his preparations. Carozo, now 86, arrives in town on Thursday and will undoubtedly be rolling up his shirtsleeves to help. But Cappelletti has help aplenty. Six apprentices from the local Tabarly professional boatbuilding college have already volunteered their services and other locals are providing moral support. It is time that is not on Cappelletti’s side. All competitors have until Noon on Friday to pass their safety inspections or they miss Sunday’s start.

Nabil Amra, the Palestinian/American sailing the Biscay 36 Liberty II is also racing against time. He is due to return to Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow having completed the final part of his solo sailing trials only to return to sea again to do his 5 mile jury rudder trial. The problem he has is that his emergency rudder, which forms part of the self steering gear, is not due to be delivered until Friday morning – just hours before the Noon safety deadline set by the French authorities.

If any fail to make Sunday’s start, then competitors have six days grace to complete their preparations before the start closes permanently at Noon on Saturday 7 July.

Competitors still to pass safety inspections:

  • Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
  • Are Wiig (DEN) OE 32 Olleanna
  • Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
  • Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
  • Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda
  • Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
  • Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
  • Francesco Cappelletti (ITI) Endurance 35 007

Those to have passed their safety inspections to date are:

  • Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
  • Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
  • Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
  • Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
  • Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut
  • Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
  • Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
  • Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB

Other news from the dock

Gregor McGuckin (IRE) has secured late sponsorship Blackthorne International Transport, and moral support from Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, leader of the Fine Gael Party who have both sent messages wishing him well on behalf of the people of Ireland

Antoine Cousot (FRA) has also won additional sponsorship for his Biscay 36 Métier Intérim from Groupe Dubreuil and the new low-cost French airline

Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick and Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB have been given weight penalties in the form of an extra main battery for modifications made to the standard specifications allowed to their boats.

This week, the GGR village has been swelled with 11 French classic wooden yachts and two of Eric Tabarly’s famous yachts, Pen Duick II in which he won the 1964 OSTAR transatlantic race, and the maxi sized Pen Duick VI in which he competed in the 1977/8 Whitbread round the world race.
Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht that Sir Francis Chichester sailed solo around the world with one stop in Sydney, Australia, a feat that led to the first Golden Globe Race in 1968/9, is expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne on Thursday 28th June. She will join Suhaili and Joshua, the yachts that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Bernard Moitessier sailed in the original Golden Globe Race, on public display on the GGR pontoon within the Race Village.

And finally, Abhilash Tomy (IND) has found himself embroiled in the strange case of the prodigal barometer ‘borrowed’ from the Chain Locker pub in Falmouth within hours of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston presenting it to the hostelry, 50 years after he too had ‘borrowed’ it for his solo non-stop circumnavigation. It transpires that the distinctive ‘Lovely Day for a Guinness’ branded weather indicator was lifted from the wall of the pub early the following morning by Don McIntyre, the GGR Race Founder, who then smuggled it on to Tomy’s Suhaili replica yacht Thuriya before she sailed for France.

McIntyre admitted today. “The temptation was just too great: Abhilash is the only Indian to sail around the world non-stop solo like Sir Robin and we couldn’t let the fabulous story of the barometer just stop there. So now it’s on its way around the world again on a replica of Suhaili and history is repeating itself!!”

James Staughton, CEO of St Austell Brewery, owners of the Chain Locker pub and a keen yachtsman, added, “When we first heard about the disappearance of the replica, we and the team at the Chain Locker were all naturally concerned, but who doesn’t love a good story and this really is one of the best. We wish Abhilash the very best of luck on his voyage and look forward to welcoming him back, hopefully with the barometer, for a pint of Tribute beer at the Chain Locker on his return.”

GGR Programme in Les Sables d’Olonne June 16 – July 1st

The GGR Race Village will open each day from 10:00am to 8:00pm and until 02:00 on Fridays and Saturdays

Visitors will find the GGR yachts and skippers on the Vendée Globe pontoons, and admire the historic solo yachts – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili, Bernard Moitessier’s Joshua and Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV, together with Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick III and Pen Duick VI. There is something for all ages: Learn to navigate with the stars and instruments of the past, attend conferences, interviews and demonstrations, participate in workshops and boat baptisms, and the conviviality of the Bar Guinguette during evening concerts

The Race Village is open to the public from June 16 to 30, and is free of charge. Activities are planned each day and entertainment specifically for children will take place on:

Wednesdays 10:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 17:00
Saturday 10:00 to 12:00 and 14:30 to 17:30
Sundays 16:00 to 17:00

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Joshua and Suhaili unite in Les Sables d’Olonne

Dateline Les Sables d’Olonne France: 20th June 2018

Two great men of the sea, Britain’s Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and French hero Bernard Moitessier never met or communicated with each other during the first Golden Globe solo round the world Race 50 years go, but their equally famous yachts, Suhaili and Joshua finally came together for the only the second time in history today.

In an historic moment, the two classic yachts will mark opposite ends of the start line when Sir Robin fires a canon from the deck of Suhaili at Noon on Sunday July 1st to start the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

18 sailors representing 13 Countries will then set out from Les Sables d’Olonne on a great adventure to recreate the golden age of sailing, navigating their way around the globe just as Knox-Johnston and Moitessier did in 1968/9 using sextants, paper charts wind-up chronometers and a weather eye on their barometers.

Recalling that pioneering race back in 1968/9 which led to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston becoming the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world and Bernard Moitessier to famously turn east after rounding Cape Horn to ‘save his soul’ and make a second loop of the Southern Ocean, Sir Robin said: We never met because we started from different ports 6 weeks apart. I set out from Falmouth on June 14 1968 and Bernard started from Plymouth UK on August 22.”

Nor could they communicate by radio because Moitessier refused to carry one, saying that any intrusion from the outside world would taint his voyage. In fact, he was against the whole idea of the Race, seeing sponsorship from the Sunday Times newspaper as a violation of the spiritual ideal to be first to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation.

Moitessier rounded Cape Horn on February 5, 19 days behind Suhaili and had he continued Bernard would undoubtedly have set a faster time around the world, but would not have beaten me back to the UK.” Sir Robin added.

“We finally met many years later at a press conference in Paris. Bernard was very generous but suggested to me that he thought the race was lost as far back as Australia – his last contact with the outside world. I believe he continued on for a second lap of the globe after rounding Cape Horn because by then, he was at one with the sea and had no wish to return to an increasingly commercial world.”

One person who got to know Moitessier well is catamaran designer James Wharram who, many years later, built a boat with the Frenchman. “Bernard told me that he decided to continue on for a second circuit of the Southern Ocean because he said “I couldn’t bear the thought of President de Gaulle kissing me”!

Moitessier and Joshua finally pitched up in Papeete, Tahiti on 21 June, 1969 after 300 days at sea. He then stayed away from France and his wife Françoise for another 17 years and fathered a child, Stephan, with new partner Ileana in 1971. He continued cruising on Joshua until the yacht was wrecked in 1982 during a hurricane while at anchor in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She was one of 26 vessels to be blown ashore that night.

Dismasted, stanchions and pulpit flattened, hatches shattered, rudder gone, she finished up full of sand and seawater, dug deep into the beach.

That might have been the end of the story, but a team that included local lad Reto Filli, saw that the hull was still intact and spent the week digging a trench to pull Joshua up the beach. Once this was achieved, Moitessier gave his yacht to Filli, telling him to use what money he had to put Joshua back in shape. By all accounts, Filli rebuilt the yacht beautifully and sailed her to Seattle where American Johanna Slee, a professional mariner, bought her. In 1989, Virginia Connor spotted the distinctive red ketch in Seattle and sent a picture to Voiles et Voiliers magazine. Once authenticated, Patrick Schnepp, director of the French National Maritime Museum in La Rochelle, flew across to buy her and arranged for Joshua to be shipped back to France. There, a team of Moitessier disciples painstakingly restored the yacht to near-original condition. She has a new engine and the aft cabin is now fitted out with bunks to give more people the opportunity to sail on her.

Unlike Suhaili which is not listed on Britain’s Historic Ships registry because she is 18cm short of their minimum length requirements, Joshua is listed as a French treasure, and lovingly maintained as a ‘living artefact’ by the ‘Friends of Joshua’ Association to give the public the opportunity to experience sailing on her.

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