Dateline: Les Sables d’Olonne, France, Monday
The Golden Globe Race village in Les Sables d’Olonne opened with a bang over the weekend as 9,000 visitors welcomed 17 of the GGR skippers into town at the end the SITRaN Challenge Race from Falmouth, UK
The greatest applause was reserved for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, long time friend of the YJA, and his famous Suhaili yacht, winner of the first Golden Globe Race back in 1968/69, and first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe. Hundreds gathered on the dockside all vying to catch his lines or eye, and thousands more cheered from vantage points around the marina. Suhaili was escorted the last 25 miles from Ile-d-Yeu by a fleet of yachts representing the French section of the Cruising Association.
“I expected a warm welcome, but nothing this big” said Sir Robin. Answering questions on the dock, he added: “The Golden Globe Race is a great adventure involving ordinary but very seaworthy boats and ordinary people who will grow to be quite extraordinary by the time they return to Les Sables d’Olonne. Mark my words, those who finish will become legends in their own right.”
Asked if he felt a yearning to start with these skippers, the three-time circumnavigator smiled: “Yes – but 50 years ago!”
Did he have any pearls of wisdom to offer this new generation of global skippers? “Yes, my advice to these skippers is to look after your boat – and your boat will look after you.”