Don McIntyre is at it again. McIntyre, you might remember, was the person behind the most recent Golden Globe race where he recreated the original event that took place 50 years earlier. He then announced a retro Whitbread Round the World Race which will take place in 2023 to celebrate 50 years since the inaugural Whitbread that took place is 1973.
McIntyre’s drive is to bring sailing and adventure back into people lives at an affordable price. The cost of modern day offshore ocean racing is prohibitive and the opportunities to get involved are scant at best. His latest venture is to start a series of events in a new class which he’s calling the McIntyre ClassMini 5.80.
The new class is a One Design concept that starts with the design of a simple, fun-to-sail plywood-epoxy yacht that anyone can build, anywhere in the world. The idea was conceived along with the Polish sailor and yacht designer Janusz Maderski who specializes in small ocean-going yachts and they have already started production of hull #1.
The boat is 5.8 meters, or 19 feet in length, and has a beam of just over seven feet. The idea is that with the keel, rudder and spars removed, everything can fit easily inside a standard 20-foot shipping container. The concept is to have a class of boats that are simple to sail, affordable to build and most important of all, boats that are safe to sail.
The yacht is fully self-righting and has features that include a basic plywood epoxy construction, bow crash box and three watertight compartments. McIntyre told me that 100 sets of plans were bought in the first two days after he announced the new class.
He also has some ambitious plans for new offshore sailing events for his new class. The first will be a Transatlantic race starting in November 2021. That race will go from Europe to the Caribbean with a stop in the Canary Islands. In the summer of 2022 there will be a race from Europe around the Azores and back and then, if there is sufficient interest, an around-the-world race in 2024. Of course it goes without saying that all these races will be done single-handed as there is no room for a second person on board.
The idea of a circumnavigation race is intriguing and that’s what he is planning. Of course it would be foolhardy to take the race around Cape Horn so the first leg goes through the Panama Canal with a stop in the Canaries and somewhere in the Caribbean along the way.
Leg two starts from Panama and goes to the Marquesas, Tahiti to be specific, in the South Pacific. Leg three goes to Tonga then on to Kupang in Indonesia before a long slog across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, Cape Town, up the Atlantic to the Cape Verde Islands and finally back to the finish in Europe. Quite the adventure with a whole lot of tropical islands to visit along the way.
I think McIntyre is really onto something here. I was lucky enough to have sailed around the world when it was a much simpler time. We did it for the pure thrill of it and not for a paycheck and those early Whitbread races were affordable. No longer so. The world of professional sailing is prohibitively expensive and only the fittest professional sailors need apply.
Our world is so fast paced that I am sure that there are many out there longing for something slower and more simple and perhaps a solo circumnavigation in a 19-foot yacht is in your future. I even gave it a passing thought before slapping myself back into reality. – Brian Hancock.