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Dalton Brothers Take on Golden Globe & America's Cup!

26th February 2021
Graham Dalton, New Zealand solo sailor and entrant in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (left) with his brother Grant Dalton, (centre) and Barry Pickthall, the GGR ORG Ambassador
Graham Dalton, New Zealand solo sailor and entrant in the 2022 Golden Globe Race (left) with his brother Grant Dalton, (centre) and Barry Pickthall, the GGR ORG Ambassador Credit: PPL

One sails in the fastest, most sophisticated and prestigious sailing challenge in the world, all over in just minutes! The other is attempting the longest, loneliest, most demanding and slowest race, for any individual in any sport on the planet. The Dalton family wants it all! With the America's Cup just days away and the third edition of the gruelling eight-month solo Golden Globe Race starting next year, the contrast is extreme.

Graham Dalton, the elder brother of New Zealand’s America’s Cup supremo Grant Dalton, has entered in the 2022 Golden Globe Race. The gritty 66-year old from Auckland has unfinished business - to sail solo around the world and win! Two previous attempts have ended in disappointment. In the 2003 Velux 5 Oceans, a four-stop solo circumnavigation he was dismasted close to Cape Horn and in 2007 he completed the same race but outside the time allowance.

Golden Globe Race 2022 ChartGolden Globe Race 2022 Chart

Grant Dalton, on the other hand, has sailed all the major international Ocean races and won, including the Whitbread Around the world Race and of course the America's Cup. His dreams happened. It does not get any bigger or better. His big brother has had his dream since childhood. Inspired as a schoolboy by Sir Francis Chichester’s solo one-stop circumnavigation in Gypsy Moth IV back in 1966/7, he recalls: “Many of my friend’s parents had yachts and their boys would talk about Chichester’s adventure in the playground saying ’That’s what I’m going to do - sail around the world’. I knew they wouldn’t, but I made a commitment - and every day since, this has been my goal.”

But entering the next GGR non-stop solo round the world race, starting from Les Sables d’Olonne, France on September 4, 2022, has not been straightforward. Having been dismasted, suffered broken rudders, and torn sails, 4 fractured ribs, and endured chronic food poisoning during previous attempts, Graham says: “This time, I waited until I said to myself that I wanted to do this again three days in a row before making the commitment. It has taken some time to resolve.”

The decision was made only after a lot of soul searching and self-analysis. Graham is a determined, tenacious character with great self-belief, - many of the attributes shared with his younger brother Grant. The big difference between the two is that while Grant is happy to court the media spotlight, Graham is not. “I’d rather not have any publicity. I don’t need it because I won’t have a sponsor. It’s just a distraction that I can do without” He says. If it were possible, I sense that he would prefer to just turn up at the start dressed like the anonymous Japanese masked wrestler The Great Sasuka and take on all challengers. He’s happiest with his own company and a project to focus on. The media bruha and contact with the outside world - even competitors - he would just as happily do without. The perfect mindset for a solo sailor you might say.

But third time around, Graham has been asking questions - of himself and to others. One of these is about mental preparedness. A good American friend who had spent 23 years as a US Navy Seal advised: ‘The brave don’t live for ever, but the cautious never live.’ He now has the inscription on his study wall at home, alongside the badly buckled titanium steering wheel from his last yacht smashed by a wave as a reminder of what can happen at sea. And the message? I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t finish up on a bulkhead within his yacht to bolster his mindset when things go awry as they undoubtedly will at some point during this 30,000 mile battle against the elements.

Another mentor is Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the 73-year old French sailor who led the 2018 Golden Globe Race from the Cape of Good Hope all the way back to the finish. Graham has bought Van Den Heede’s Rustler 36 Matmut which bettered Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s winning time set in the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968/9 by 100 days. He has not only bought the winning yacht but hopes to benefit from the great knowledge and experience gained by the 6-time solo circumnavigator Jean-Luc.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and his yacht MATMUT surfing down Biscay waves towards the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne. Photo Christophe Favreau/GGR/PPLJean-Luc Van Den Heede and his yacht MATMUT surfing down Biscay waves towards the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne. Photo Christophe Favreau/GGR/PPL

If Coronavirus travel restrictions allow, Dalton plans to travel to France in May to complete the yacht’s fit-out and sailing trials before setting out into the Atlantic on a 2,000 mile qualification solo sail to sweep away any lingering doubts. “I’ve got some ideas on how to make Matmut even faster. I’ve no interest in simply sailing around the world again. It is the competitive aspect that really appeals. I’ve entered the GGR to win, and without distractions, I think I can.” He says.

His brother Grant is of the same mindset. He has taken on the greatest high-tech sailing challenge on earth and won. In the next few days he puts it all on the line once again. Dreams don't come any bigger! The family conversations must be quite interesting!

Published in Golden Globe Race
Barry Pickthall

About The Author

Barry Pickthall

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Yachting journalist and photographer Barry Pickthall is the Golden Globe Race Media Co-ordinator

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About the Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is the original round the world yacht race. In 1968, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. Off shore yacht racing changed forever with adventurers and sailors, inspired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, following in his pioneering wake. Nine men started the first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. History was made. Navigating with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world. In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly caught the attention of the worlds media as well as adventures, captivated by the spirit and opportunity. The original race is back.

The Golden Globe Race: Stepping back to the golden age of solo sailing

Like the original Sunday Times event back in 1968/9, the 2018 Golden Globe Race was very simple. Depart Les Sables d'Olonne, France on July 1st 2018 and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to Les Sables d'Olonne. Entrants are limited to use the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin Knox-Johnston in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 and having a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts will be heavily built, strong and steady, similar in concept to Robin's 32ft vessel Suhaili.

In contrast to the current professional world of elite ocean racing, this edition travels back to a time known as the 'Golden Age' of solo sailing. Suhaili was a slow and steady 32ft double-ended ketch based on a William Atkins ERIC design. She is heavily built of teak and carried no computers, GPS, satellite phone nor water-maker, and Robin completed the challenge without the aid of modern-day shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer.

This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. Competitors in this race will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for 'those who dare', just as it was for Knox-Johnston.

They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand-write their logs and determine the weather for themselves.

Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high frequency and ham radios allow.

It is now possible to race a monohull solo around the world in under 80 days, but sailors entered in this race will spend around 300 days at sea, challenging themselves and each other. The 2018 Golden Globe Race was a fitting tribute to the first edition and it's winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Background on Don McIntyre (61) Race Founder

Don is an inveterate sailor and recognised as one of Australia s greatest explorers. Passionate about all forms of adventure and inspiring others, his desire is to recreate the Golden Age of solo sailing. Don finished 2nd in class in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht race. In 2010, he led the 4-man Talisker Bounty Boat challenge to re-enact the Mutiny on the Bounty voyage from Tonga to West Timor, in a simil

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