Golden Globe Race: Race 'Round The World

By Mark Corke

No GPS, chartplotters, or satellite technology for these sailors chasing history.

Golden Globe racers

It's a race around the globe, going on right now, and you might not even be aware of it. On the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe Race, a sequel was organized to commemorate the first round-the-world yacht race. The bold twist is that today's competitors can only use 1968 technology to complete the circumnavigation.

Sailors left from Les Sable-D'Olonne in France at the beginning of July on the 30,000-mile nonstop journey that will take them around the globe and back to the starting point.

You can follow the competitors in this year's Golden Globe Race at

When the race took place for the first time 50 years ago, there were just nine starters, all amateurs. Among those was Donald Crowhurst, an Englishman, who, with little sailing experience, saw the race as an opportunity to raise publicity for his struggling marine electronics business.

His boat was an unproven trimaran design, hurriedly constructed with no time for extensive sea trials prior to the start of the race. Crowhurst was even less well prepared than the boat, and soon after the start of the race he realized that neither he nor his boat were likely to make it around the world.

The Mercy movie poster

"The Mercy," released earlier this year, stars Colin Firth as Crowhurst and Rachel Weisz as his wife and chronicles Crowhurst's struggles to get the boat finished on time, his start in the race, and his eventual suicide. Soon after the start, Crowhurst realizes that he faces something of a dichotomy: If he withdraws from the race and turns back he faces almost certain financial ruin, go on and he will likely not survive.

Slowly he sinks into despair, and as his mind becomes unraveled he comes up with an elaborate scheme of sending back false position reports by radio of his progress while, in fact, he is languishing in the south Atlantic — something that could not happen today as boats would be tracked via GPS. He initially intends to wait for the rest of the fleet to sail through the southern ocean and tag back on to the race, after they have reentered the Atlantic after rounding Cape Horn. But this plan falls apart as, one by one, other boats in the race withdraw until there is but one true competitor left, Robin Knox Johnston.

Sinking further into despair, his radio transmissions eventually cease and he is never heard from again. Weeks later, his boat, Teignmouth Electron, is found afloat but abandoned, the logbooks aboard the only clue as to his mental state and likely suicide. The final entry, "It is finished. It is the mercy."

Watch the official trailer:

The film is available on DVD and for viewing on many of the popular streaming services. 

— Published: August 2018

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