HomeGlobal Solo ChallengeWho are your heroes of the world of Solo Sailing ?

Who are your heroes of the world of Solo Sailing ?

Global Solo Challenge

Continuing on the theme of who are our heroes from the World of solo sailing. I asked a few other notable sailors who were their heroes, and who inspired them in their endeavours.

I also asked them what they were up to these days, and if they had any advice for the entrants to the 2023 Global Solo Challenge.

Mike Golding O.B.E

As well as being a previous IMOCA & FOCA World champion, Mike Golding holds numerous world records and awards – including the prestigious “Emile Robin” and “Royal Humane Society” awards following the successful rescue of fellow solo sailor Alex Thomson from his sinking yacht in a remote part of the Southern Ocean.

Mike Golding – @vendeglobe


Mike said that his yachting heroes (and there are many) would include Robin Knox Johnson, Chay Blyth, Peter Blake, Florence Arthaud and Ellen MacArthur.

Sir Charles ‘Chay’ Blyth was the first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe against the prevailing winds.

Peter Blake was a New Zealand winner of the Whitbread Round the World race. For three years he held the Jules Verne trophy, and was a successful Americas Cup winner.

Florence Arthaud, sadly died prematurely after a freak helicopter crash whilst filming a reality show. During her life, she won numerous races, including the Route de Rhum, and The Transpacific. She also held the record for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, is a British-born offshore sailor, who in her career, won races and records, including at the time, the fastest solo circumnavigation.

Ellen MacArthur @ellenmacarthur


Mike said “While I have retired from mainstream competitive sailing – I am still very much involved with the sport and I focus on making our sport more sustainable and accessible. This includes being Chair of the Sustainability Commission at World Sailing. Sailor representative on the WS Oceanic Events Committee, Patron of the RYA/BM Green Blue initiative, and President of the Little Ship Club in London. I also offer private coaching to sailors who are progressing into the shorthanded sport.”

His words of wisdom for the GSC sailors would be – “one day at a time.”

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede



My colleague Margherita, has already interviewed this intrepid and inspirational sailor, so rather than repeat his achievements here, let us look at who inspired him:

Marcel BARDIAUX le premier!!! Alain Gerbault, Robin Knox Johnston, Bernard Moitessier, Vito Dumas.

I must admit that I did not know the name Marcel Bardiaux, but he was a sailor, writer, boatbuilder, wartime POW (he escaped twice) and indeed a kayaker and kayak builder who in his lifetime sailed 400,000 nm. He eventually retired from sailing after completing 40 Atlantic crossings, the last of which he completed when he was 88 years old.

Bardiaux managed to convey his enthusiasm and love of the sea in the books that he penned.

Jean-Luc’s second hero was another French sailor/author Alain Gerbault, who also happened to be an accomplished tennis player. Gerbault circumnavigated the Globe, taking from 1923 to 1929 to complete the journey, oh and en-route, he won the Panamanian Tennis Championships. His books were classics of the period.

Moitessier, was the French sailor who, arguably, could have been the winner of the original Golden Globe, but instead, he did not suceed -or rather wished- to head north to the finish line and preferred to continue circumnavigating the globe until he reached French Polynesia where he lived for a number of years (apparently he made this choice out of rejection of the modern world).

There cannot be many sailors that have had a tango named after them!, but Vito Dumas the Argentinian sailor did. In the 1940s, during World War II, Dumas circumnavigated the Globe, in the most rudimentary of boats with only three stops.

Jean Luc, when asked what he was up to said “I am going to cruise 2 weeks in Corsica on a sailing boat.”

Pete Goss MBE

Open50 Pete Goss Aqua Quorum
Open50 Pete Goss Aqua Quorum @petegoss


Former British Royal Marine, Pete, is probably best known for his heroic rescue in hurricane conditions of a fellow competitor, Raphaël Dinelli, during the 1996/7 Vendee Globe, Round-the-World race. There is a rumour that Dinelli came from his life raft holding a bottle of champagne for his saviour, but I do not know if that is a true story or not.

Pete has completed over 250,000 nm, having previously competed in six transatlantic and two Round-the-World races, as well as other challenges such as Polar Exploration and kayaking.

As Pete says: “Life hangs on a very thin thread and the cancer of time is complacency. If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.”

Pete is the author of the best-selling book about his yachting adventures ‘Close to the Wind.’

His heroes are; Sir Francis Drake, Captain Cook, Ernest Shackleton, Ernest ‘Blondie’ Hasler and Éric Tabarly.

‘Blondie’ Hasler was a WWII hero, and later a yachtsman, who was credited in designing the earliest commercially available wind vane. He was a co-founder of the OSTAR races and competed in the early events in his boat Jester, which quite uniquely for the time, was rigged, so that the skipper did not have to leave the shelter of the central cockpit.

Eric Tabarly was a French Naval officer and sailor, who had incredible racing success, particularly winning two OSTAR races.

Pete reports that, amongst many things, he has recently designed, built and just launched an aptly named boat ‘Oddity’ to explore the coast, upper reaches, rivers and canals of Europe.

His advice to the sailors in the GSC: ‘Focus on safety, give the Southern Ocean a huge amount of respect, and take time out to enjoy and reflect on the special moments of your adventure’.

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