Don Macintyre likes adventure.
Lots of people like adventure.
But unlike most people, Don Macintyre’s entire life IS an adventure.
So much so that the Australian Geographical Society awarded him a gold medal in 2012 for ‘A life Time of Adventure’, but as he’s not dead yet, the adventures continue.
Having already lived in a box in Antarctica with his wife for a year (they both received medals for that) and led the re-enactment of the Talisker Bounty Boat sail- the small boat taken by the survivors of the mutiny on the Bounty, Don is always one step ahead of the pack when it comes to pushing the envelope During the Talisker adventure, he and his small crew ate unrefrigerated tined lambs tongues for protein. Don believes in challenging himself. At 61 he shows no signs of slowing down.
His latest big project is the 2018 Golden Globe Race, a 9 month (300 day) solo sailing race that is the first of a modern type of ‘old skool’ adventure.
Normally this type of event would see Don at sea, but so great has been the interest, he has had to take a step away from being at the helm on a boat, to organizing and running the entire operation from land.
What started out as a fun idea has turned into a much anticipated sailing phenomenon.
2 years out from the starter’s gun, it is already oversubscribed, with a current waiting list of 8, and a fully booked field of 30. There is only one female entrant in the race, and she is already becoming a media darling.
Around the World solo racing is not new, and in fact this particular race celebrates Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s historic 1968/9 world first solo non-stop circumnavigation in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race. This a new Golden Globe Race marks the 50th Anniversary of that epic journey. What is really special about the 2018 event is that it will be a ‘retro race’, meaning that all the boats must be free of any of the usual modern technology that bedecks modern campaign boats.
No high tech anything, including recording equipment. Sailors who want to capture the action will need to use 8mm film, and music played will come from cassettes. They must use sextants and paper charts, there will be none of the modern mod cons you will see inside the streamline boats of today. The boats must be built from designs dating before 1988, 32-36 footers with a fibre glass construction. As Don says, the challenge is pure and very raw. Sailors will be navigating without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand–write their logs and determine the weather for themselves.
Modern ocean racing is a high tech business, and Don refers to modern captains as ‘Pilots flying a machine’, whereas with the Golden Globe Race it’s just a person and their boat.
Don’s whole personal philosophy is about courage and supporting the positive adventures of Adventure. It seems fitting in a world increasingly risk averse. Many people today despair of the molly-coddling and cotton wool approach to modern life. Not so these guys.
Not that Don believes in taking unnecessary risks, his organizational skills are tried and trusted, and so far, there have been no major disasters. So who, apart from him, is out there pushing the boundaries? Don says that his latest venture has attracted the dreamers.
But no one serious about winning will stay a dreamer for long. Those already on board have been warned, the rules are very strict.
During the race, all entrants must sail into Storm Bay, Hobart, Tasmania, passing through a ‘gate’ (when the race clock stops), and while drifting for approx. 90 minutes, meet the Race Director, media, and family, and pass over film/photos/letters, then sail back through the ‘gate’ (when the clock re-starts) without touching shore, or any person, or being resupplied.
Entrants may seek shelter and anchor (using the engine if needed) to make repairs, but may not enter port and no person may give any materiel assistance at any time during the Race. Anyone stepping outside of the rules will not be eligible to place or win.
Adherence to the rules in very important. Famously- or perhaps infamously- Donald Crowhurst, a British solo sailor, entered the original Sunday Times Golden Globe race where he not only gave false reports of his whereabouts, but also presented unrealistic times and positions, and eventually succumbed to insanity and killed himself by throwing himself from his yacht. His boat, the Teignmouth Electron, was eventually found along with his logs and evidence of his deteriorating mental health.
This tragic story has long served as a warning to solo sailors ever since. Apart from the general craziness that drives human beings to pit themselves against several oceans whilst all alone in a floating box, adventure racing is a thrilling and life affirming adventure. For Don Macintyre, it’s not a way of life, it is his life.