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The Ocean Globe Race (OGR) is a fully crewed retro race in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race. It marks the 50th anniversary of the original event.

It’s an eight-month adventure around the world for ordinary sailors on normal yachts. Racing ocean-going GRP production yachts designed before 1988, there will be no computers, no satellites, no GPS, and no high-tech materials. Sextants, team spirit and raw determination alone in the great traditions of ocean racing are allowed on this truly human endeavor. These will be real heroes pushing each other to the limit and beyond – in a real race!

Following the success of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, the concept of retro, fully crewed, traditional ocean racing around the globe has returned.

Don McIntyre – 8 minutes on ‘Who What How When Where and Why of the OGR’

Yesterday and Today

The 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe race was the first ever around-the-world yacht race.

It was an adventure to determine who could be the first to circumnavigate the globe solo, nonstop without assistance. Nine sailors started, only one finished. It was an epic tale won by the least expected to win – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in the 32ft timber ketch Suhaili. He established a world record in the same year that footsteps first appeared on the surface of the Moon. A few years later, the British yachting establishment organised the first ever fully crewed yacht race around the world. With backing from Whitbread Breweries and following in the wake of the great clipper ships, the legend that became known simply as ‘The Whitbread’ was born in 1973.

SUHAILI – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston 1968 Golden Globe (PPL Media)

18 yachts lined up for the start on a sunny Saturday morning in Portsmouth England on 8 September 1973. Two more would join for later legs. It was an adventure, a family affair even, in yachts from 45ft to 74ft.

The race would take them first to Cape Town, South Africa and on to Sydney Australia, before heading deep south around the infamous Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro and finally back up to Portsmouth – 27,000 miles later. A total of 324 crew were involved. Sadly, three would never return; lost overboard during Southern Ocean storms. Five yachts retired and three were dismasted. This race was also won by the least expected to win; a family crew with friends, sailing a standard production Swan 65 yacht, Sayula II, skippered by Mexican Ramón Carlin.

It was a fantastic race. A true adventure filled with real stories of human endeavour, colour and challenges on the high seas.

Sayula II
The Swan 65 Sayula II skippered by Ramón Carlin

For the next 20 years the adventure continued with a Whitbread Round the World Race staged every four years. Sailors of all levels, ages and backgrounds were able to follow their dreams. They signed on and circumnavigated the globe – in a race.

PPL Media

Yachts became steadily faster, and costs began to climb. The fifth edition in 1989 saw one entry spend £6million in an unsuccessful bid to win. The 6th edition in 1993 brought huge change and sadly the end for most sailors hoping to be part of this ultimate challenge. By then, the Whitbread Race had evolved into a fully professional event. In the words of the organisers, it was now the Formula 1 of Grand Prix ocean yacht racing. Ordinary sailors with their dreams could only spectate.

PPL Media

A growing international audience, advancing technology and huge budgets led eventually to Volvo taking over the race. They transformed the event into a nautical extravaganza of stunning proportions with elite sailors that we have all grown to respect. Peak athletes all, sailing a few grand prix, state of the art, one-design yachts, driven by computers, all with comprehensive shore support ready to pick up the pieces. These spectacular Volvo yachts left the clipper ships in their wake in every sense!

Today, these high budget boats chase records across the planet to dazzle at race villages and big budget spectacles. Currently in a state of transition, the newly renamed Ocean Race is stepping up again, reinventing itself in exciting ways with IMOCA 60 yachts sailed by just five elite crew and autopilots now helming for the first time.

On the 50th anniversary of the original Whitbread Round the World Race, McIntyre Adventure (organisers of the Golden Globe Race) and the Globe Yacht Club are proud to announce, that after 30 years of spectating, ordinary yacht club sailors and owners everywhere, once again have a chance to race around the globe! We are going back to that first great Whitbread Race and sailing like it’s 1973. The Ocean Globe Race (OGR) is for sailors with a dream and a sense of adventure – pure and simple! Is it YOU?


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