A few weeks before the start of  the round the world solo Golden Globe Race we caught up with Susie Goodall as she hauled her boat out for a quick scrub at Portland Marina in final preparation for the start

Seeing the bright yellow furled headsail amongst the row of boats lined up ashore made finding her easy. Underneath we found Susie hacksawing away at a ball valve handle that was in need of an “adjustment”. Elsewhere on the boat however it was immediately apparent that this wasn’t going to be a quick lift and scrub.  As Susie explained “I scraped away at loose paint on the rudder and realised that there was more going on there”. Indeed, as is the way with mature boats, the work is never finished, merely a constant cycle. This time the rudder required some remedial work to remove a small patch of soft wood and re-fair with epoxy. Susie shrugged in a way only an experienced sailor understands at the fact her quick scrub and anti-foul would be a four or five day job instead

We chatted candidly about sailing in general and what were the leading factors that culminated in Susie making her entry into this nostalgia ridden Golden Globe

From a young age Susie says that she had an idea of sailing around the world, but embarked initially on a professional sailing career that began as an assistant instructor aged 17. She saved up for her own boat aged 21 and eventually was able to buy a Nicholson 32. From there she worked at a sailing school in Australia, also worked at UKSA as a dinghy and windsurf instructor and at an opportune moment a position became available on Rubicon 3, an expedition boat that Susie says was quite a dream job. It was after three years working on Rubicon that the Golden Globe was announced and Susie decided she should enter it

Susie says of the decision “some people say I am mad or crazy for entering this race, but that’s not true. The race is a the crazy bit, but I’m not.”

In preparation for the race Susie had to find a suitable boat which she bought two years ago from Southampton, a Rustler 36 named ‘DHL Starlight’. She has had to make a few major adjustments to the boat to ensure she is race regulation compliant and also suitable for the job of circumnavigating. A watertight door was added to the forward cabin, a complete rewire was also required and Susie had a solid doghouse built to replace the canvas original. The anchor well is now foam filled but generally the boat is as original as possible. All of this was achieved while Susie lived aboard

Securing DHL as a sponsor was extremely fortunate and has enabled Susie to have a full sail wardrobe of the maximum 11 allowed. Speaking highly of her sponsors she also thanked Dean & Reddyhoff marinas for their support of her Golden Globe campaign. Which explains why she chose to sail for a day to Portland Marina from her temporary base in Haslar Marina, Gosport for the lift out

She also commented on the various people who had helped her along the way, from someone giving her a sailing knife, wind-up time pieces and so on. Taped inside the saloon area is a blessing from a priest, along with some poetry and small pieces of hand drawn art

In her inventory she is also carrying a range of books, mostly non-fiction, from biographies to ocean science. As she explained earlier in our encounter when asked what she might be doing if not working as a professional sailor? “I’d probably be an ocean scientist, maybe a meteorologist or perhaps an engineer. “

The food packing and weighing had started back in Haslar the previous week and Susie said  that “all the food has been weighed. I have a mix of free-dried and tinned food. I can’t remember the exact weight but I know I’ve packed 24 luxury fruit cakes and there’s plenty of my favourite Danish liquorice as well.”

Susie also explained that although she wears a Cru lifejacket, for the most part she prefers to wear a harness for ease of movement

What’s very clear from sitting for a while with Susie Goodall is that she is very much a focused professional sailor embarking on a genuine sailing challenge, of which few remain in the 21st century.

The 19 entrants to the Golden Globe race will depart  Les Sables-d’Olonne on the 1st of July. It’s highly likely that not all will make the full circumnavigation as per any ocean race of this magnitude but Susie, as calm as you like, when asked if there was anything she feared? “No, not really. I’m just annoyed at this rudder repair costing me time“ to which she added “the start of the race, that’s the bit I’m least looking forward to. Once we get a day under us, then it will be fine. “

Well, we can only wish you fair winds Susie as we watch with interest for news of progress of the competitors on this nine month long race.

Notes:

The Golden Globe Race departs Les Sables-d’Olonne, France on July 1st, 2018. There are 19 skippers, with Susie Goodall the only female skipper, who will sail solo, non-stop around the world via the five Great Capes and return to Les Sables-d’Olonne. This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s historic 1968/9 world first solo non-stop circumnavigation and entrants are limited to sailing similar yachts and equipment to what was available to Sir Robin in that first race. That means competitors are sailing in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall, without modern technology or the benefit of satellite based navigation aids. 

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Interview by: Jayne Toyne, The Magenta Project

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