HomeGlobal Solo ChallengeThe war of attrition in the Global Solo Challenge has not come...

The war of attrition in the Global Solo Challenge has not come to an end yet

A  circumnavigation by sail is one of the most extreme and difficult sporting feats to bring to a successful conclusion and less than 200 people ever managed to do it solo and non stop. Of the 16 starters in the Global Solo Challenge half have retired and only 5 are the boats that have not had to stop for emergency repairs. The statistics appear terrible, and it may be tempting to think that something is not right. Unfortunately, a 40-60% success rate on a similar voyage is pretty normal.

In recent years only the top pro category of IMOCA 60 footers sailing in the Vendée Globe has managed to raise the bar in terms of completion rate, thanks to years of work within the class that led, for example, to standardised keels and masts for all boats, greatly reducing the number of dismastings and keel losses.

An event like the Global Solo Challenge does not have boats all conforming to a set of Class rules. The event has a set of regulations which very closely mirror the World Sailing best practices contained in the Offshore Special Regulations for Category Zero events, the highest framework available. IMOCA embraces the same framework and enhances it with additional class rules which apply to all boats, which are homogeneous in overall design. Within the framework of the Global Solo Challenge we cannot recreate this additional set of rules as the boats can be very different from one another and only by restricting entries to a single class of boats could we take a similar path. However, it would negate the spirit that was behind the launch of the event itself, which strives to provide a framework to complete a competitive circumnavigation on a boat type that is not imposed by the organisers.

Andrea Mura – Vento di Sardegna – Cape Horn (ex Wind Express – Vendée Globe 2000)

 

Before the collective efforts of the IMOCA class to raise the completion rate of the Vendée Globe, the reference event for monohull solo circumnavigations, the success rate was historically a number hovering around the 50% mark, and as organisers of the Global Solo Challenge we are not at all surprised by seeing similar numbers in our event. Unfortunately a higher completion rate has also at least some degree of proportionality to budget. In our case it is not a simple case of lack of rules that we could implement, it has also to do with a very simple parameter such as boat size, a 60 footer is certainly preferable to a smaller boat in heavy seas but raising the eligibility to such big boats would mean the minimum budget for a participation would grow exponentially killing of the attempt to create a more affordable alternative to the top pro circuit.

Now, to be clear, we are not trying to make comparisons between the fantastic and exciting modern age of the Vendée Globe and the new format of the Global Solo Challenge. I think we did the right thing in including the word Challenge in the naming of our event, as the it is clear that the first difficulty is completing, in face of the many adversities, some general to all, some specific to each individual boat choice, preparation and level of skill of the skipper.

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