A ‘golden’ race against technology and nature

There is a saying that the Golden Globe Race is easily one of the toughest challenges a sailor undertakes in his lifetime.
Joe Nejedly, Ernakulam Sailing Association president
Joe Nejedly, Ernakulam Sailing Association president

KOCHI:There is a saying that the Golden Globe Race is easily one of the toughest challenges a sailor undertakes in his lifetime. With neither the modern-day sailing equipment nor the technology to aid them on their 12-month journey across the globe, sailors know they are up for the worst.

Ernakulam Sailing Association president Joe Nejedly, who is also a veteran in the catamaran (yatch) building business, said ocean sailing, unlike inland sailing, is extremely unpredictable. “Inland yachting is safer and you know someone can reach you when you are in danger. In Abhilash’s case, he is marooned in the middle of the South Atlantic which is why rescue operations are a little more difficult,” Joe said.
Joe adds that Abhilash is very

determined. “He knows the oceans like a thorough professional, having circumvented the globe once. He was prepared for this journey too. Probably, he didn’t see the wind coming which affected the keel of his boat which led to it  capsizing. Abhilash like his counterparts, had to depend solely on celestial sightings (the moon and the stars) and a compass like a chronometer and a barograph to circumnavigate his way,” he said.

So, with rough terrains, isn’t the sport highly dangerous? Jolly Thomas, Captain of Boat, Kerala Water Sports and Sailing Organisation, begs to differ. “I believe yachting is an extremely safe sport and history bears testament to it. In this case, the participants don’t have access to computers, GPS, satellite phone or water-makers, which they are used to. Maybe a mistake in the celestial reading could affect the way they calculate the water,” he said.

According to Joe, in an event like the Golden Globe Race, one does not have the luxury of time. “You can’t choose what time to sail or even go to Port if you are exhausted. They have to face the sea whichever way it presents itself to them. It is also a test of your psychological strength,” he said.Is such a race relevant today? “It would be, which is why the organisers decided to hold it. Robin Knox-Johnston was the only man among the nine participants who successfully completed the event in 1968. He undertook the journey without any modern equipment. The sea is always the same,” said Joe.

The Golden Globe Race

This 50th anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. This is why all the boats have been made in the same make and fashion. Joe Nejedly suggests that Abhilash’s boat was the only boat which was the exact replica of Robin’s which was build in Mumbai at that time and age.  The competitors will navigate with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots.

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The New Indian Express