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3 Times Whitbread: Brian Hancock, Commentator to OGR

We are already three months out from announcing the Ocean Globe Race. What a ride it has been.

The level of international interest has surprised many, ourselves included. We are currently talking to a passionate group of interested entrants, crew, Host Ports and possible partners. The enthusiasm from all sectors to a simple, honorable event, with pure human objectives and real values is without question. Already we feel humbled by the nature of comments and support from ordinary people, all excited about the prospect of following this great adventure and challenge, still four years away.

After years of planning, you can never really predict the outcome when announced, or how many entries or partners may join the Ocean Globe. Today it is clear that we have immediately found a place in sailing, with sailors and commercial stake holders. The response greatly surpasses that received when we initially announced the similarly Retro, solo Golden Globe Race in 2015. As an initial concept and without a major partner, the media valuation for the Golden Globe was US$185million (recently announced here). The Ocean Globe promises to be both ground breaking and inclusive through its unique initiative. The following will grow through real stories,the impact and inspiration for ordinary people should be immense.

It starts from here. You have subscribed to this News and will receive all Official OGR Press Releases and commentaries from a few regular and occasional OGR Guest commentators. I’m excited to announce and introduce you to BRIAN HANCOCK who now joins me on our permanent team. His current Blogs enjoy a strong following around the world. In fact one of his GGR Blogs early last year had a reach of over 44 million people. For OGR Brian will write about anything and everything on the subject of the Whitbread and Ocean Globe. I am looking forward to reading them! The day after the official OGR announcement he wrote of his excitement for this great race. Here is part of what he had to say.

Retro Whitbread Coming Our Way July 2nd

OK this one is personal to me as someone who participated in three Whitbread Round the World races back in the 80s. I had heard rumors of this happening and indeed had the idea myself a few years ago, so when I got a formal announcement this morning I was thrilled. My friend Don McIntyre, who founded the retro Golden Globe Race, has announce a retro Whitbread race set to depart from a northern European port in 2023. Details are, of course, quite sketchy but the idea has been thrown out there and let’s see who bites. I personally think that it’s a great idea. Progress inevitably put the Volvo Ocean Race (now The Ocean Race) beyond the reach of most sailors. The budgets are sky high and the ability to sail one of those boats at the relentless pace needed to win is only in the realm of (young) professional sailors. The retro Whitbread will bring back the true spirit of the earlier around-the-world races and at a much more affordable price.

I like this idea for a number of reasons. There is still a yearning for pure adventure and I constantly meet sailors who tell me that they would have loved to do a Whitbread or an early Volvo Ocean Race but now it’s simply out of their reach. Too much money and the boats are too much of a challenge to be sailed by an average sailor. The early Whitbread races were a thrill to be a part of. True adventure. We were at sea for five to six weeks at a stretch with only weekly communications via single-sideband radio. Folks back home had little clue where we were and that was part of the fun. We would show up in the next stopover unshaven, unwashed and as happy as one could be. There were some great sailors that participated. Peter Blake, Eric Tabarly, the great Connie van Rietschoten who won the race twice, Skip Novak, Grant Dalton to name just a few. This race will provide the opportunity for a new generation of sailors/adventurers to leave their mark on the world of offshore ocean racing. The only thing about this notice is that it made me realized how bloody old I have suddenly become. I still feel like that scruffy, adrenalin seeking kid when in reality I am a paunchy old dude with grey hair prone to sea sickness.

Who Is Brian Hancock?

Brian Hancock is in the rare club of sailors who have logged over a quarter million offshore miles, most of them competing in major offshore races and delivering boats between races. In the late 70s he competed in (and was shipwrecked) in the disastrous ’79 Fastnet Race, but undaunted signed up a week later (without pay or prospects) to race from England to Australia in the Parmelia race, an event that celebrated the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Western Australia.

Brian Hancock, OGR Commentator

In 1981 he raced his first Whitbread Round the World race aboard the American yacht Alaska Eagle. Four years later he raced again aboard Drum, the boat that was owned by Simon Le Bon, lead singer of the rock group Duran Duran. Le Bon and the two managers of Duran Duran raced on board for the second half of the race. In 1989 Brian was hired as Sailing Master aboard Fazisi, the first, and by happenstance, last Soviet Union entry. By the time the race was over the Soviet Union had collapsed.

DRUM in the Southern Ocean

In the 90s Brian took up solo sailing. He owned a stripped-out carbon Open 50 named Great Circle and sailed his qualifying voyage for the 89/90 Around Alone race by sailing from Spain to Bermuda. Unfortunately his plans to compete in the Around Alone were scuttled when he hit the reef off Bermuda.

The Radical and Fazisi turning heads where ever she went!

Looking to create a life beyond that of a professional sailor Brian co-founded the Portimão Global Ocean Race, the first event aimed at smaller boats (40-feet) and smaller crew (either solo or double handed). The race was sponsored by the city of Portimão, Portugal with the first event attracting six teams from around the world.

Brian is the author of six books including two memoirs and a tome about sails and sailmaking titled Maximum Sail Power – the Complete Guide to Sails, Sail Technology and Performance. He has returned to his roots as a sailmaker building sails under his own brand – Great Circle Sails. He would be happy to provide your sails! He lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with his wife, two sons, two stepsons and a cat named Portimão.

Thanks Brian and welcome to the OGR Family!

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