Five boats are still racing in the Globe40 race which left Tangier at the end of June whilst The Race Around due to go in 2023 has been cancelled. Both races were launched just over three years ago with the ambition of each bringing together at least 15 boats. And so in the end these races around the world in Class40s which seemed at the time to promise so much have not achieved the success which was expected by their respective organizers. Here we look more closely….
The bad news was announced this summer to the officials of the start port of La Rochelle. The Race Around, a race around the world which was to start on September 10, 2023, to be contested over four stages, solo or double, in Class40s, will finally not happen. The organizer, Sam Holliday has had to give up due to the lack of registered competitors. “Internally we discussed success being a fleet of 20 boats across the two categories. In the end only two committed to the event financially. Others gave assurances they would be on the start line but without a financial commitment”, says the Brit.
How do we end up here with a potential race which some saw as a revival of the BOC Challenge? Several reasons explain why there has been no great demand for entries. First of course has been the global health crisis followed by war in Ukraine: “When we responded to the class’s call for projects in 2019, the world was a completely different place: there had been no Covid, no war in Ukraine, no inflation,”, observes Emmanuel Versace, who assisted Sam Holliday in France on The Race Around.
President of Class40, Halvard Mabire believes that the two different formats, double and solo, “lacked clarity and perhaps contributed to the racers not encouraging and each other.” Axel Tréhin, who had expressed his interest in the race, adds: “Between the possibility of doing it double, solo, in 2023 or in 2027, everyone seemed to pick their option and in the end we did not seem to be together the same common project”.
New boats are not designed
for around the world racing
Another factor that worked against The Race Around was that a new generation of Class40s came on stream in 2019 and these boats were ultimately not designed for round the world racing. “The project arrived at the same time as a new generation of boats which while it made them faster, are much harder to sail and stressed in structure. Once their new boat was in the water there was a realisation that it was not necessarily suitable for a round the world race. When you see those who are doing the Globe40 today, there are only older boats“, confirms Halvard Mabire.
“I think one of the difficulties was the OSR (Offshore Special Regs) requirements,” says Axel Tréhin. “The Race Around required getting the boats up to Category 0 [most are today in category 1, Ed], and that involved additional design and real work in a boatyard, the cost was significant and then there came the question of reverting the boats back to optimal performance configuration to return to do a Transat. Many have asked many questions on this topic. Globe40 were quite smart in adapting their course to stay in category 1.”
Sam Holliday adds: “One particularly high profile boat sustained damage during a race in the Bay of Biscay which led to that skipper withdrawing his interest in The Race Around, several other high profile teams withdrew at this time too.” The boat in question? Crédit Mutuel, whose hull was damaged in the 1000 Milles des Sables last April, one reason among others, according to its skipper Ian Lipinski, which led it to skip The Race Around: “This damage could have been serious if I hadn’t been near the coast. It scared me a bit. I also discussed it all with David Raison (the designer) I’m not sure it’s very reasonable to set off on our modern Class40s around the world with sailors who are bound to push hard.”
Long term vision is unusual
Lalou Roucayrol, who was one of the two entries does not entirely agree: “It’s a real disappointment, I found the race super interesting and adapted to our boats. For me, the real problem is that many projects are with French partners who did not see the point of letting the boat go racing for six months and preferred to stick with a Transat Jacques Vabre.” And Roucayrol, who chose to fall back on the Global Solo Challenge aboard a Swan 43, adds: “Class40 is a class in which people are not looking very far into the future.”
Emmanuel Versace agrees: “No team is able to plan ahead more than, say, two years, this is the real limitation of the Class40 model. Ian (Lipinski) has just announced that he is relaunching a project for four years, but how many of them know before the start of the Route du Rhum what they are going to do next year far less in the longer term? Very few. It’s also complicated to get skippers and partners out of their comfort zones. Transat Jacques Vabre, Route du Rhum, Normandy Channel Race…” The Race Around will not ever take place: “We will not postpone until 2027 only to be faced with the same situation“, confirms Sam Holliday. Emmanuel Versace suggests “an alternative solution proposed to La Rochelle”, i.e. a round trip race to Ushuaia in Category 1 from September 2024.
What about the Globe40, the first edition of which started at the end of June with 7 competitors (there are only 5 left in the race after two stages)? Organiser, Manfred Ramspacher, who, at the launch of the project, hoped for “20 to 30 boats” (see our article), did not answer the questions from Tip & Shaft, Halvard Mabire imagines a future for this round the world in eight stages: “Manfred was forced to postpone the dates because of the Covid, which put him in in conflict with the Route du Rhum which is much easier to sell to a sponsor. Nevertheless, the concept is really good. If the Globe40 gets back on a more agreeable schedule, I think it will grow, people do want broader horizons.”