Historic Whitbread Veteran 50th Anniversary Reunion

Historic Whitbread Veteran 50th Anniversary Reunion

4 Days to Start McIntyre Ocean Globe

The largest gathering of Whitbread Veterans in sailing history. 83 veterans celebrate their 50th Anniversary at the iconic OGR Whitbread Reunion. Crew from 38 Yachts including Sayula II, Adventure, Heath’s Condor and British Soldier among the guests all receive the official 50th Anniversary OGR- Whitbread gold coin!

The largest gathering of Whitbread Veterans in sailing history. 83 veterans celebrate their 50th Anniversary at the iconic OGR Whitbread Reunion. Crew from 38 Yachts including Sayula II, Adventure, Heath’s Condor and British Soldier among the guests all receive the official 50th Anniversary OGR- Whitbread gold coin!

Sailing history was made yesterday with 83 Whitbread veterans, representing 38 Whitbread boats, reliving their memories and telling their stories at the OGR 50th Anniversary reunion held in MDL Race Village, Ocean Village Southampton. It was a highly emotional evening as the veterans caught up with ‘old’ sailing friends, and former rivals, in the company of the crews preparing to sail around the world in the McIntyre Ocean Globe (OGR), a race in the spirit of the original Whitbread Round the World Race from 1973.

The evening was compared by Barry Pickthall, aka Mr Whitbread, the former yachting correspondent for The Times newspaper who has covered every Whitbread race. He welcomed OGR race patron, Sir Chay Blyth, who skippered Great Britain II in the first Whitbread. Chay was delighted to be in the company of so many veterans.

“It’s a fantastic evening and I’m amazed that after 50 years all these people are here. A great, great evening of long-lost friends, having a few beers together.” he said.

And the beers flowed freely, thanks to sponsors Boatshed International, the sun shone and the stories just kept coming, to the delight of the crowds.

Butch Dalrymple-Smith sailed on Sayula II, the winner of the 1973 Whitbread. He had some advice for those taking part in the OGR.

“Let me tell you, this race does not need courage. Everyone told me how brave I was, that’s bull. When you leave the dock, there’s flags flying, bands playing and beautiful women waving you off. It’s the easiest thing in the world, just drop the lines and off you go. And when it gets difficult, it’s too late!

“We were lucky, we’d the right mix of taking it easy, enjoying ourselves and going sufficiently fast to win the race. I think some of the other boats were a bit upset that not only were we drinking our way around the world and eating very well, we were also going faster than them.”

Brian Hancock, a Whitbread expert having sailed on Alaska Eagle, Drum and the only Russian entry, Fazisi, recognised the power of the evening.

“The spirit of the Whitbread got a little big lost along the way when big money came into it. It’s great to see these old boats and even older sailors come again. Back in the early days we thought the world was flat, we were a bunch of misfits, reprobates and drunks and we sailed around the world without problem.” he explained.

“Saying that, there is absolutely zero chance I’ll be getting onboard one of those boats on Sunday. For those sailing in the OGR, hang on for a fun ride. Once you’ve thrown the dock lines to shore, I like to say the horizon spreads out in front of you with wide open arms, just waiting for you.” 

Skipper Marco Trombetti of Translated 9 IT (09) (formerly ADC Accutrac) was overjoyed to welcome former skipper Clare Francis and her crew onboard their former home. Clare was the first woman to skipper a yacht in the Whitbread in 1977, coming fifth overall.

“It was emotional, maybe too emotional. I came to meet Clare and she was already in tears and when I saw her tears, I had mine. We walked in silence for a few minutes, then she saw the boat from the dock and then there were new tears. I think it’s a great demonstration of all the emotions that those of us doing the OGR will have in the future.” said Marco. 

Clare, another veteran who could not be tempted to join the crew of the OGR on Sunday, was delighted to see her former boat so well taken care of. 
“She looks beautiful, she’s been beautifully renovated and that was a wonderful thing to see. She’s been loved again.” said Clare. 

Roy Clare, who sailed on Leg 4 on Adventure (1973), was highly amused about how little has changed since his days onboard.

“It’s been great watching the OGR YouTube channels and watching the crews and skippers being interviewed and realising after 50 years it's all the same issues. It’s the watch-keeping rota, it’s the food, it’s the water, but also how you sail with old-fashioned navigation. It’s wonderful to see no progress at all, and it's exactly as it should be. The only thing we have noticed looking at the boats is they’ve roller furlers on their headsails. Talk about soft!”

Don McIntyre OGR Founder and Race director said: “We launched the idea of the Ocean Globe Race as a celebration of the original Whitbread races and to have all these original crews join us for the reunion is a HUGE endorsement for the OGR. It is so good to hear their stories and see how excited they are about the 14 entrants about to set off. It really is hard to describe the emotion, but it is time to start sailing and do this!!”

The evening ended on a high with the crew of Maiden presenting Tracy Edwards MBE with a cake and bubbly to celebrate her birthday. She praised the crew who are about to take on the oceans including the three great Capes in just four days.

“When we did the race 33 years ago, we were not half of the caliber of this incredible Maiden crew we have on the boat today. They’re faster, sassier, smarter and better than we ever were. I want to say good luck to the girls on Maiden and good luck to everyone taking part in the OGR.” said Tracy.

38 Boats Represented at the 50th Anniversary Whitbread Reunion:

Brunel Synergy, Creightons Naturally, ABN Ambo 2, Turn the Tide on Plastic, Burton Cutter; Heaths Condor, Ocean Greyhound/FCF Challenger, NZI Enterprise New Zealand, The Card, Adventure, Satquote Defender, With Integrity, Odessa, Rucanor Sport, US Women’s Challenge/Heineken, Norsk Data, Liverpool Enterprise, British Soldier, Skopbank of Finland, Sayula II, ADC Accutrac, Xargo, Flyer 11, Ceramco NZ, Lion NZ, Equity & Law II, Drum, Intrum Justitia, Team EF, Côte d’Or, Charles Jourdan, United Friendly, Fazisi, Maiden, Esprit de Liberte, Morbihan, Great Britain II.


Image: McIntyre OCEAN GLOBE 2023 – COPYRIGHT FREE for Editorial Use. Andrew Whitfield, British Soldier Whitbread Veteran, delighted to receive his much sought after OGR/Whitbread anniversary gold coin. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023