The forthcoming Ocean Globe Race, commemorating half a century of Whitbread regattas, can apparently now be called «a 2-in-1 regatta». The management has decided to add a Classic class to the three originally announced retro classes (Adventure, Sayula, Flyer) for Whitbread Maxi over 21.6 metres and W60 racing yachts from 1985-1997.
This decision has two tangible consequences. Firstly the fleet that will launch in September 2023 could grow to 34 boats, making the Ocean Globe Race one of the largest full-crew circumnavigations in the past 29 years. Secondly, it is planned that competitors from the Classic division will follow their own route which will more closely replicate that of the old Whitbread stages.
However, the host ports and stage start dates for all four classes will be the same. For competitors in the Classic fleet, this means less mooring time, which will also make life even more difficult for them.
At the same time, the requirements for Classic boats will be less stringent. In particular, they could be fully branded. Crews may choose not to use GPS, smartphones, satellite communications and drones as competitors in other classes, but may use weather-aware navigation software.
Another advantage of the class is its relative «cheapness» for prospective competitors. Many suitable boats from those years are still in good condition and require much less refit costs. The initial purchase price of such a boat can be around €100-200 thousand.
The winning crew in the Classic category will receive the Big Red Trophy, created in honor of Sir Peter Blake's Steinlager II team. Steinlager II was the only team in Whitbread history to win all stages of the regatta from 1989-1990, both actual Line honours and handicap awards.
Entries for the Ocean Globe Race in the Classic fleet will be open from January 1, 2020.