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Race History

The VELUX 5 OCEANS was established as the first single-handed around the world race in 1982, and is run every four years. It was originally known as the BOC Challenge. Fewer people have achieved this goal than have climbed Mount Everest. It is not surprisingly referred to as one of sailing’s ultimate challenges.

The inspiration for the race came from the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, where nine sailors set off in 1968 to race solo around the world, for the first time. There was only one finisher – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Results of the Golden Globe Race 1968

Over 25 years, The 5-Oceans Race has created an enormous sporting heritage of endeavour and achievement, including many peaks of excitement and dramatic rescues. It has made heroes of little known skippers – such as Philippe Jeantot, Christophe Augin, Giovanni Soldini, Jean-Luc van den Heede and Isabelle Autissier.

1982 BOC Challenge

Based on David White’s original concept, the inaugural BOC Challenge got away at the end of August 1982 with a fleet of 17 boats racing via South Africa, the Southern Ocean and beyond.

They were a rag-tag bunch, but among them one entry stood out, an unknown Frenchman by the name of Philippe Jeantot. [He arrived with a purpose-built 56 foot sloop named Credit Agricole, and went on to win all four legs of the race with an overall elapsed time of just over 159 days. Class 2 was won by a Zen Buddhist cab driver from Tokyo by the name of Yukoh Tada. As expected the race had its dramatic moments, with two rescues.

1986 BOC Challenge

The second BOC Challenge built on the success of the first with 25 sailors setting out from Newport, and 11 new boats were specifically designed and built for the race. Philippe Jeantot found himself up against some stiff competition.

South African John Martin won the first leg while Titouan Lamazou took Leg 2. It was only the consistent performance by Jeantot that finally led him to his second victory, clipping almost 25 days off his previous time. American Mike Plant won Class 2 finishing in 157 days.

1990 Around Alone Race

By now the radical Open Class designs had become even more extreme, with beamy, water-ballasted, carbon fiber boats carrying massive sail plans.Group Sceta – Christophe Auguin 1990

Jeantot’s more conservative design was no match against that of his fellow countrymen Christophe Auguin sailing Group Sceta, and Alain Gautier aboard Generali Concorde. Auguin and Gautier took first and second places respectively leaving Jeantot a distant third. Class 2 was won by yet another French sailor, Yves Dupasquier, who won all four legs.

1994 Around Alone Race

The 4th race firmly established its place on the racing calendar, with stopover ports vying to host the fleet. Race organizers chose to begin and end the race in Charleston, South Carolina. France’s Isabelle Autissier sailed a flawless race arriving in Cape Town a full six days ahead of second place finisher Steve Pettengill.Autissier dismasted twice 1994

Unfortunately the tenacious Autissier was dismasted on Leg 2 forcing a stop at windswept Kerguelen Island, in the Southern Ocean. A jury mast was erected and Autissier set off in pursuit only to be rolled and dismasted a second time. She finally abandoned her boat and was rescued by the Australian navy. With Autissier out Auguin took his second win. Austrllian Dave Adams won class 2.

1998 Around Alone Race

The famous Italian racer, Giovanni Soldini arrived with sponsorship from Fila and a brand new Open 60. Soldini dramatically rescued Isabelle Autissier from her upturned yacht in the Southern Ocean. British sailor Mike Golding, was leading the race approaching the halfway stage but ran aground off the North Cape of New Zealand. Giovanni Soldini wins in 1998

The field was then wide open for the Italian Soldini to take victory. With a high attrition rate in Class 1, the real attention was on Class 2 where JP Mouligne, Mike Garside and Brad van Liew battled among themselves before Mouligne finally won.

2002 Around Alone Race

The 6th Race proved yet another hard fought, dramatic race with Swiss sailor, Bernard Stamm winning Class 1 and American Brad van Liew taking Class 2.Bernard Stamm wins Class 1 2002/03

Emma Richards became the first woman and youngest competitor ever to finish the race. Derek Hatfield, in the Open 40 class, suffered a dramatic dismasting around Cape Horn and continued to finish the race, some weeks after the leaders. It is now over 20 years since that inaugural race; from humble beginnings it had grown to become a major international yacht race with a coveted place in the offshore racing calendar and a bright future.