Round the world ocean racing will once again start from Southampton, with the Ocean Globe Race (OGR) setting off from Ocean Village this September.

Round the world ocean racing will once again start from Southampton, UK, with the announcement that the Ocean Globe Race (OGR) – the ‘retro’ celebration of the Whitbread Round the World Race – will start from Ocean Village this September.

The Solent, off the south coast of England was the historic start and finish venue of the Whitbread race, after the first ever iteration of the fully crewed around the world multi-stage race set off in 1973.

The next three editions of the Whitbread also started from Portsmouth, while from 1989 until 2001 it started and finished in Southampton. Huge spectator fleets saw off each start and welcomed the winners back into the Solent many months later.

When the event became the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005 the race start moved to Spain, first Vigo and more recently Alicante.

Huge flotilla accompanies the start of Leg 1, from Southampton to Cape Town, of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1997-98, in the Solent. Photo: Stephen Munday /Allsport/Getty

The Ocean Globe Race is the latest retro concept event from the team behind the solo Golden Globe Race, this time marking the 50th anniversary of the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Over 160 sailors are set to depart onboard 15 yachts in a four leg, 30,000 mile crewed event on 10 September 2023. The teams, which are made up of a mixture of pro-am crews will sail around the world via the three great capes; Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s notorious Cape Horn.

Ocean Globe Race start announced

The event was launched in 2019, and while the stopover ports were confirmed as the traditional ‘Whitbread’ stops of Cape Town, Auckland and Punta del Este, the start and finish ports were only confirmed today.

The Ocean Globe Race is the brainchild of Don McIntyre, the man behind the Golden Globe Race (the celebration of the 1968 Golden Globe Race in which Sir Robin Knox-Johnson became the first person ever to sail single-handed non-stop around the world).


The recently refitted Maiden is due to race again in the Ocean Globe Race. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

After initial discussions to host the Golden Globe Race starts and finishes in the UK, including Falmouth and Plymouth (as per the original 1968 race), it eventually moved to Les Sables d’Olonne, France (home of the Vendée Globe) – and until recently it looked like the Ocean Globe Race was going the same way.

In an October 2022 press release, OGR organisers reported that, after years of trying, “sadly UK ports are not interested in hosting the start and finish of this epic adventure and historic occasion”. Final discussions were underway with European ports for the hosting rights.

Fortunately that statement was picked up by a large corporate entity with UK connections. Organisers report that the interested party felt strongly that the OGR should stay in the UK. At the same time MDL Marinas wanted to save the event for the UK as a celebration of their own 50th anniversary.

All concerned were passionate about bringing this iconic sailing race back to Southampton and their Ocean Village Marina, the home of so many previous Whitbread races. A deal was struck with both parties and now Ocean Village Southampton is the home of the OGR.

Incredible scenes as the all female crew of Maiden is welcomed back to Southampton in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race. Photo: Andrew Sassoli-Walker

Ocean racing returns to UK

This will be a huge win for the UK after the British racing world has seen other significant events move to Europe, such as the Fastnet Race, which now finishes across the Channel in Cherbourg instead of Plymouth, and the Transat, formerly the OSTAR, which also historically started from Plymouth.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have an anonymous partner and MDL onboard for the 2023 Ocean Globe Race and starting from Ocean Village in Southampton is a personal dream for me,” said McIntyre.

“Now, in September, the UK public and sailors everywhere will be able to celebrate an important part of their maritime culture with a true recreation of those first amateur sailors racing into the unknown!”

The Ocean Globe Race will take place in pre-1988 classic sailing boats and the international, mixed-gender crews will have no GPS, no high-tech equipment and no computers. They will navigate using only a sextant, paper charts and the stars with all communications by HF SSB radios. The race will finish back in Southampton in April 2024.

Accutrac competed in the 1977/78 Whitbread Round the World Race and has been reimagined as Translated 9 for the Ocean Globe Race. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Six of the yachts competing have taken part in one or more of the Whitbread races (including the first French yacht to ever win the Whitbread) to which they are now paying homage.

One of the most notable is Tracy Edwards’ Farr 58 Maiden. In 1990, Tracy triumphantly brought home the first ever all-female Whitbread crew onboard Maiden to Ocean Village Marina. At the time, it was estimated that almost 50,000 people came to witness this momentous event, which helped to turn the tide on women’s participation in sailing.

The Village Marina will open on 26 August 2023, two weeks prior to the start of the race on 10 September. During the run up to the start, the Race Village will host speakers, pre-race activities, past race screenings, hospitality and entertainment as well as the media centre and sailors’ briefing area.

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