Something stirring in France – Golden Oldies on Route du Rhum

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‘Happy’ (the sister ship of Mike Birch’s famous Olympus) skippered by Loick Peyron preparing to take part in this 10th transatlantic race "La Route du Rhum", La Trinité-sur-Mer, Brittany, France.

 

The next edition of the quadrennial single-handed Route du Rhum launches this November 2, with an impressive all star cast. The big, monster trimarans will all be there, the Ultimes – IDEC, Sodebo, Spindrift with their backing sponsor. Single handing a 100 plus foot trimaran with millions riding on the result is not for the faint of heart!

The Multi 50 class will have at least 8 boats, and as many as 7 IMOCA monohulls will compete to add to their Ocean Masters points totals. Thirty or more Class 40 monohulls will jostle their way behind the speedsters to cross the Atlantic from St Malo to Guadeloupe.

But there is a class not shown on the official event website, a class with a special heart and soul, a class that is a band of brothers.

Band of Brothers

The Golden Oldies are going to Guadeloupe.

The Golden Oldies are multihull sail boats – most of them trimarans – built prior to 1988 to race – and to change sailing.

Imagine a modern sailing race record NOT held by a multihull…..see, you cant……they changed the world. The most familiar name amongst their ranks – at least to Americans – is Moxie – the 50 foot Newick designed trimaran Phil Weld sailed to victory in the 1980 OSTAR race. Another is Acapella Ocean, a Walter Greene design brought lovingly back from a watery grave three times by her owner Charlie Capelle (who built parts of Banque Pop and Soldebo). And of course there is Happy – a sister to Acapella and joyously sailed by non other than Loick Peyron – yes, THAT Loick Peyron.

Legends surround these boats. More than one of them has been upside down and abandoned in mid-ocean only to be salvaged, renovated and restored to former glory. In the case of Moxie – Walter Greene has said she is better now than when they launched her. While Moxie has not been upside down, Acapella has – three times!

Given up for lost each time, she was salvaged and returned to Charlie who put her back together to take her racing again. Charlie has built Round the World race trimarans….like Groupama and Banque Pop…but Acapella is special…..Acapella is his….She is HIS boat who will not die…Acapella always comes home.

And last time this tribe gathered…a surprise guest – Newicks GulfStreamer….rescued upside down in the eighties in mid-ocean by a Russian cargo ship….abandoned in Odessa…..now found and rescued and sailed across the Mediterranean by Alexey Solyanic without engine or electronics trans-secting the Med just to be with her other Golden Oldies. Gulfstreamer…..after all these years.

Its enough to bring tears to these eyes.

These boats are maritime history, they are a living, breathing historical record of our efforts to cross oceans in a new, fast and natural way. They are a joy…. simple, wonderful, naive and beautiful.  They are the past and they are the future. The folks who designed them, the men who sailed them and now we….the folks that save them….give them as a gift to you…the future….to show we cared.

Good on you Golden Oldies…..keep ’em sailing!

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