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Seldén sponsored sailors leave Falmouth for the start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

by Susannah Hart, Seldén Mast 19 Jun 11:23 BST 14 June 2018
Antoine and Susie © Dave Hart

On 14th June 1968 Sir Robin Knox-Johnson left Falmouth in his 32ft yacht, Suhaili, to compete in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. Subsequently, he became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the globe – one of the greatest sailing achievements of the last century.

Last week, on the 14th June Seldén sponsored sailors, Susie Goodall and Antoine Cousot, along with the rest of the 19 strong fleet of intrepid adventurers departed Falmouth to join the start of the 2018 Golden Globe Race to mark the 50th Anniversary of Sir Robin's epic voyage.

Their departure was the culmination of a week of festivities celebrating Sir Robin Knox-Johnson's amazing achievement 50 years ago as well as introducing the 18 men and one woman who will be following in his footsteps.

Sir Robin Know-Johnston said: "It is wonderful to be back in Falmouth and to receive such a warm welcome. Everyone has been very kind. This weeks celebrations have all brought back so many memories."

The rules of the 2018 challenge will ensure that the new wave of Golden Globe Race skippers will be completing the journey in a similar manner to Sir Robin half a century ago. The participants will navigate with a sextant and paper charts; no satellite assistance for navigation is permitted and they will not have the luxury of electronic instruments or autopilots.

Communication will also be limited; friends and family may only be spoken to sporadically via the short airwaves and the global network of radio amateurs. The lack of regular contact will be hard on both those at sea as well as those left behind. "It will be difficult for my wife and me, but it is a team effort. We want to show our children what is possible if you follow your dreams," commented Antoine Cousot who will sail away from a wife and three children in July on his Biscay 36.

The atmosphere was buzzing on the pontoons as they were filled with the frenetic activity of the sailors making every effort to finish their preparations before the Suhaili 50 Falmouth Parade of Sails and ultimately the start of the Golden Globe Race. Susie Goodall explained: "I am just so busy as there is still so much to do. This is really the last chance to get things done here as I know where everything is and where to get certain things."

Susie knows Falmouth well having refitted her Rustler 36, DHL Starlight, in the town. The refit included a new Seldén mast and boom, Furlex and sail hardware. Susie, at 28, is not only the youngest skipper she is also the only female following the withdrawal of Brazilian Izabel Pimentel last year.

As they left Falmouth Haven to join Sir Robin Knox-Johnson for the Parade of Sails the sailors were all in high spirits waving and posing for photographs, which belied any apprehension they felt at what was to follow in the coming months.

The parade itself was a sight to behold. More than 200 vessels, traditional and modern, power and sail, joined Sir Robin and his Suhaili, Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth IV and the fleet of small but robust yachts of the 2018 Golden Globe competitors.

The procession commenced at Custom House Quay to introduce the boats to the crowd before heading out into the harbour across Carrick Roads to St Mawes. They then headed back towards Pendennis Point to take up their starting positions for the SITraN Challenge – a 'friendly' race to Les Sables d'Olonne in France. The throngs of people lining Custom House Quay and the headlands around Falmouth Harbour highlighted the unbelievable support from the people of Falmouth as well as the sailing community.

At 12.30, a little earlier than planned, the sound of a cannon rang out across the harbour and they were off! With Susie Goodall leading the way the courageous sailors headed towards the start line in Les Sables d'Olonne of the much anticipated 2018 Golden Globe Race.

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