Here we are at last. After months, indeed years of preparation, the crews took the OFFICIAL START of the first edition of the Globe40 this Sunday 26 June at 15:00 hours Moroccan time (14:00 UTC) in the Bay of Tangier. Before leaving the Strait of Gibraltar in their wake, the competing Class40s completed a 7-mile coastal course concocted by Race Management between Cape Malabata and the western cardinal mark of Roche Bourée, opposite the ancient Medina of Tangier, bidding a symbolic farewell to their generous and welcoming Moroccan hosts for the start of this epic circumnavigation of the globe. The fleet enjoyed perfect conditions, sunshine and a W/NW’ly breeze of around fifteen knots and a clean start. To kick off this first leg spanning a theoretical 1,740 miles, the skippers must first round the Spartel headland and the gateway to the Atlantic some 7 nautical miles from the Bay of Tangier before diving into the downwind conditions synonymous with the trade wind, bound for Cape Verde via Madeira and the Canaries. Let the adventure commence!
Inevitably the emotion was evident on the pontoons of Tanja Marina Bay as the skippers cast off on their circumnavigation of the globe this Sunday. There was a mixture of joy and excitement, but also humility in the face of the huge challenge that awaits the sailors. After a last goodbye to their nearest and dearest, out in force to send the skippers on their way, the racers made for the start line in the Bay of Tangier, a few hundred metres from the local crowds who’d flocked onto the beach to watch the action. The Race Committee then released the fleet right on schedule, amidst the plumes of water from the port of Tangier’s main tugboat. It was Canada’s mixed crew on Whiskey Jack who outpaced their rivals once the starting gun fired. Indeed, Mélodie Schaffer and Gary Jacques got off to an excellent start, showing off the duo’s supreme helming skills, developed from an early age aboard Lasers and a 14-foot Internationals. With the idyllic backdrop of wind and sunshine, the Moroccan crew were keen to put on a great display to thank the locals for all their support and that’s exactly what they did, first to complete the coastal course in a perfect illustration of skipper Simon Boussikouk’s talent as a racer. Behind them were the two teams from the US, Amhas and Gryphon Solo II, in second and third. Also of note was an excellent performance by the Dutch team Sec Hayai, who dominated the whole of the coastal course only to encounter some issues furling in their gennaker at the second mark. Ultimately, they were the fourth boat to head offshore in what was a hotly contested preamble and a taster of what’s to come in this planetary battle. In fact, with tensions running high in the intense jockeying for position, there was an unfortunate collision as the Canadian team on Whiskey Jack and the French Team on The Globe en Solidaire crossed their tacks. The latter was forced to return to port to repair a damaged bowsprit, but fortunately they were promptly able to set sail again.
The perfect introduction before the southern hemisphere
To kick off their round the world, the competitors will first have to negotiate a theoretical 1,740 nautical mile passage between the Moroccan city in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Cape Verde archipelago. Once the Spartel headland is in their wake, the sailors will latch onto a trade wind tonight, which is already well established and will propel them along towards Madeira and then on to the Canaries archipelago, both of them course marks in this first leg. The latter will largely feature downwind conditions, which should enable the sailors to gently pick up the pace on what is set to be a week-long passage in a steady breeze. And so begins the start of the long route, which will lead the Globe40 sailors on a fantastic round the world adventure…