race to the race

Tick tock, tick tock. With just over a year until the start of the Global Solo Challenge, I now find myself in a race to get to the starting line. Every day between now and next October matters. From a perspective of fundraising, coordinating logistics, sailing, and training, re-fitting the boat, promoting the campaign, physical training, skills training and more, it’s a baptism of fire to kick off an endeavor of this magnitude for the first time. After our first week of sea trials, however, I believe more and more every day that I’m on the right track and that this campaign is 1,000% worth pursuing.

Last week, I rocked up to Maine Yacht Center in Portland, Maine with little more than my pro sailor buddy Sean Doyle, a media guy, a couple of old TP52 kites and a dream. A week later I feel like we really have a viable campaign taking hold. Thanks to the brilliant work of OBR Daniel Bergey, we now have some beautiful imagery and there’s a professional website under rapid construction to display it all. I’ve got full confidence that this old, fixed-keel Open 50 is indeed the fantastic platform that I had only previously been able to assume it to be.

Before flying to Maine, I raised close to twenty grand via GoFund Me and on day 2 of the campaign we were out there in the Gulf of Maine working the boat up with sail changes, recently purchased spinnakers in the sky, matching crew shirts and an organized agenda that saw us methodically achieving all of our goals for the week. To say I am pleased with our progress right now would be an understatement.

On Wednesday I’ve got a meeting in LA with the head of HR at two Fortune 500 companies, and *fingers crossed* we’ll be rocked up on the main wharf in Newport for the boat show in a couple weeks’ time. It’s been a whirlwind journey to just get from that first phone call to where we’re at now in a few short weeks’ time and I can’t wait to see what the next year and a half bring!

It’s been a lot of work, but the amount of support from friends, industry professionals and strangers has been truly inspiring. Racing around the world solo may be a one-person endeavor in actually sailing the boat during the race, but executing a good campaign is anything but. The money we’ve raised is already going fast, but it’s all in hopes of putting us on a proper footing to make a truly professional presentation and enable us to bring in private support and corporate sponsorship alike. So far we’ve already enlisted Colligo Marine, ATN Inc, Ocean Planet Energy and Dry UV as sponsors and supporters and I’m really optimistic that we’ll be able to do some solid networking at the boat show in Newport soon.

Huge shout out to Brian Harris and his crew at Maine Yacht Center for their great work in re-fitting and preparing Sparrow. Everything is working well and the boat sails like a dream. She still needs a lot of work and a lot of investment to get her to where I want her to be, but this older Open 50 is an awesome platform for a budget-conscious round-the-world campaign. Conditions were pretty light during our sea trials, barely reaching over 10 knots during our time on the water, but the boat scoots! We were pretty much sailing at wind speed or higher during much of our testing. As well as the crew that I brought with me to Maine, it was also great to have the boat’s owner Whitall Stokes there as well as Vendée Globe legend Bruce Schwab pay us a visit to lend his support. 

Our first offshore delivery leg will be taking place around September 10 so that we can sail from Portland, Maine to Newport, RI. We still have one spot left for a guest crew member if any Anarchists out there would like to join. E-mail me at [email protected] for more information. In exchange for your campaign contribution, you’ll come out of the delivery with some crew gear, professional photo and video from our OBR and some amazing memories. You can also sponsor a veteran’s spot on the delivery by making a charitable campaign contribution to our 501c3 partner US Patriot Sailing. 

We just launched a new Instagram @open50sparrow and a new YouTube channel, Ronnie Simpson Racing. Our website, RonnieSimpsonRacing.com should be live in a couple more days and we’re doing a Facebook page soon as well. 

We’re still trying to raise some more quick cash to get us going on the GoFund Me and you can contribute to the campaign charitably by visiting the US Patriot Sailing donation page and selecting the Ronnie Simpson/ Global Solo Challenge campaign.

Mahalo to everyone for their support and we can’t wait to get offshore and head south to Rhode Island! 


Ronnie Simpson