The Global Solo Challenge (GSC) 2023-2024 launch took place two years ago. With now under a year to the start from A Coruña in September 2023, the excitement keeps building with the announcement of a further broadening of boat eligibility criteria, lifting upper size and performance limits, permitting the first entry by a former Vendée Globe Open 60 skippered by a very experienced sailor. His entry is already confirmed and will be announced
Since the launch of the GSC, organisers have received enquiries from skippers of a very heterogeneous range of boat types. With over 500 expressions of interest, the GSC responded progressively by adapting the rules to allow new groups of boats to be part of the event.
Initially, the performance criteria changed to allow Class40s and Open 40s to sign up. Later, it was the turn of Open 50s whilst entries and enquiries kept rolling in.
“The interest we received right from the start made it very clear we had found a space, a gap in the offering of offshore solo sailing events, that we could try to satisfy. There certainly are many sailors who dream of sailing around the world solo and non-stop. However, we are impressed to have found out just how many!” commented event organiser Marco Nannini. “We didn’t want to start by setting the bar too high but concentrated on keeping the event inclusive and fair. Skippers should have the same chance of winning regardless of boat design, size or budget. That is, at least on paper, as individual experience and preparation are a huge factor in the success of any long offshore passage, let alone a circumnavigation.”
The unique format of the GSC, which will stage staggered starts for boats according to their performance potential, makes it possible to bring together boats of different ages, sizes and designs. This is an environmentally conscious decision and in fact the latest entry is by an Open 60 that has previously competed in the Vendée Globe. With such a heterogeneous fleet, expected circumnavigation time ranges from approximately 100 days for the fastest Open 60s to over 200 days for the slowest group of boats.
The Notice of Event update will also address transparency and fairness of groupings. The departure for the slower boats may take place a week earlier. Starts may become weekly, from the end of August to around mid-December, depending on the final list of entrants.
As of the time of writing, the GSC has received 53 entries from skippers from 15 different nationalities. Incredibly, there are still at least half a dozen further potential entries. Having said this, we are fully aware that the first challenge for each skipper is making it to the start line and that sadly some skippers will be forced to pull out. Several entrants need to secure further funding to prepare their boats. Some skippers have provisionally retired whilst trying to put all bits of the jigsaw together hoping to confirm their entry at a later date. We truly hope they will manage to be part of this great adventure. We estimate around 30 starters, which would be an incredible success for the first edition of the GSC. The final number could be higher given the continuous buzz of enquirers, but the journey is still long for everyone preparing for this challenge.
Text: Global Solo Challenge
Image: 1999 Finot Conq - Open 60 - @finotconq