The Golden Globe is a trophy that was offered by the Sunday Times
in 1968. Sir Francis Chichester
completed his single stop circumnavigation earlier that year. He stated that a non-stop circumnavigation was the only challenge left to sailors. Most people thought that a non-stop voyage of this magnitude was impossible at the time.
Early in 1968 the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, learning that there were at least 4 people preparing to beat Chichester, announced a trophy, to be called the Golden Globe, for the first person to complete a non stop circumnavigation. They proposed a start date in September 1968 but learning that the smaller competitors were planning to leave earlier than this, to give themselves a chance as a small boat will always be slower than a large one, they announced another prize, £5,000, for the person who made the fastest non stop voyage sailing between the 1st June and 31st October 1968.
The rules were simple:
The Sunday Times Golden Globe will be awarded to the first non-stop single handed circumnavigator of the world. The yacht must start and finish at the same port in a northern latitude (north of 40 degrees N) and must round the three capes. (Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn)
In either case, the circumnavigation must be completed without outside physical assistance and no fuel, food, water or equipment may be taken aboard after the start.
The £5,000 Sunday Times round the world race prize will be awarded to the single handed yachtsman who completes the fastest non-stop circumnavigation of the world departing after 1 June and before 31 October 1968, from a port on the British mainland and rounding the three capes.
In hindsight, none of the challengers had a chance. They didn’t have boats that even resembled race boats; in fact even the race boats of the time would have had a hard time achieving this goal. None of the boats had even a hope of completing the journey in less than 250 days. The 2 trimarans had top speeds of about 8 knots while Bernard Moitessier’s boat Joshua could do 4 and Robin Knox-Johnston’s boat Suhaili did about 3, their speed meant that they had to carry 1 year or mores worth of provisions and fresh water.
In all 8 people decided to challenge the impossible. First to sail on June 1st was John Ridgeway in his 30 foot sloop English Rose. A week later Chay Blyth followed him in his 30 foot Dysticus. At the end of the following week, on June 14th, Merchant Navy officer Robin Knox-Johnston followed in his 32 foot ketch Suhaili. These were the small boats and two months were to elapse before the next group followed.
Bill King, L o ïck Fougeron, Donald Crowhurst, Alex Carozzo Bernard Moitessier and Nigel Tetly left in the months of August and September, in their larger and faster cruising boats. All of the boats had a great start however most of the entries didn’t even make it all of the way down the Atlantic before withdrawing because of storm damage or medical problems.
Ridgeway, whose boat had been damaged by a collision at the start pulled out into Brazil. Chay Blyth withdrew in South Africa. Alex Carozzo got severe stomach pains and withdrew when level with Lisbon. Loick Fugeron was badly knocked about in the South Atlantic and decided to withdraw the same day as Commander Bill King, the former sailing to St Helena, the latter to Cape Town. Perhaps the strangest story is of the last to sail, Donald Crowhurst, who sent in false messages of his progress, giving the impression of a fast voyage through the Southern Ocean but in fact he never left the South Atlantic. This left Knox-Johnston in the lead, but with Moitessier slowly catching him up, and, as far as the world knew, Crowhurst closing the gap fast and further behind Nigel Tetley.
Only three of the competitors managed to enter the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean. Knox-Johnston rounded Cape Horn on January 17th 1969 after a 5 month battering, Moitessier followed three weeks later on the 6th February. Had they known how close they were they would have realized that either could win but Moitessier and Knox-Johnston had no working radios. They were sailing in total ignorance of each others positions. The boats were never put to this test as a week or so later Moitessier made the surprising decision not to return to England but carry on around the world again to Tahiti in order to save his soul.
Tetley rounded the Horn on the 18th March while Knox-Johnston continued towards England without any contact with the outside world for 4.5 months and it was only when he was a week from home that he learned of Moitessier's withdrawal. He crossed the finish line in Falmouth in the afternoon of April 22, 1969; his 312th day at sea, to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Trophy.
The trophy might have been won but there was plenty of drama still to come. Crowhurst had sent messages saying he was making good progress north up the Atlantic. This put pressure on Tetley who pushed his boat to close the gap. He pushed too hard and his plywood trimaran began to break up as he approached the Azores and he had to be rescued on the 20th of May. Had he known the truth of Crowhurst's voyage he could probably have nursed his boat home and claimed the £5,000 prize, but it was not until early July that Crowhurst's boat was found, abandoned, in mid Atlantic. The last recorded log entry was on the 23rd June and it was clear that the pressures created by his false claims had taken the ultimate toll on the man and he had deliberately jumped into the Sargasso sea and drowned.
The Golden Globe race, and more specifically the efforts of those 8 brave souls changed the face of modern yacht racing. The completion of the Golden Globe gave birth to races like the Vendeé Globe, the Around Alone and quite a few others. It’s also import to point out that of those 8 only Bernard Moitessier and Robin Knox-Johnston had any real ocean experience. Also of the 2 only Moitessier’s Joshua was the only ocean-tested boat, having survived a terrific gale on a previous trip to Tahiti.
Boat Name Sailor
Suhaili Robin Knox-Johnston
Capt. Browne Loïck Fougeron
Galway Blazer II Bill King
Joshua Bernard Moitessier
Victress Nigel Tetly
Teignmouth Electron Donald Crowhurst
English Rose John Ridgeway
Dysticus Chay Blyth
?? Alex Corrozo