Don McIntyre, inventor of the Ocean Globe Race: the adventure extremist


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Don McIntyre

Don McIntyre (65)

Okay, let’s put aside for a moment the querelle between Vittorio Malingri and the Ocean Globe Race organization. Everyone chooses sides. Let us pause, however. a moment on the figure of Don McIntyre, inventor of this regatta, “the oceanic of the moment” and above all an eccentric and volcanic adventurer.

Don McIntyre, pure Australian

To summarize his life in a few lines is impossible. He is certainly a true Aussie. Forget the world of fine European sailing clubs and the American East Cost. No blue blazer, white pants, anchor buttons. For Don the watchword is adventure, real adventure. “Upsidedownland,” Australia: the land upside down, everything is different there and life can still be truly wild in those parts.

Don McIntyre = adventure. In his own way

Don McIntyre, 65, has brought his “backwards” vision to the world of sailing competitions around the globe and disrupted the rules of the game. Its vintage and “human” budget regattas know how to make everyone dream; they bring into play not only those who are professionals or have rich sponsors behind them. Impossible not to fall in love with the idea: the identification, for those who at least once in their lives have tried sailing, is immediate

Don McIntyre
Gadget Hut, the 2.4 x 3.6-meter “house” where Mr. and Mrs. McIntyre spent a year at the South Pole.

“Toghether Alone”

Before we talk about other regattas, “browsing” through Don McIntyre’s endless accomplishments, his “Together Alone” cannot fail to strike. Alone Together”, starring him and wife Margie:
For how long? 1 year.
Where: Cape Denison, perhaps the wildest place in Antarctica.
In 1995, to celebrate Don’s 40th birthday.
How? By arriving there by sailboat(Spirit of Sydney, an 18-meter aluminum boat with which Don participated in the BOC Challange Race in ’86 and still sails on Antarctic expeditions) and then assembling a 4 x 3.6-meter prefabricated mini-dwelling

Watching the video gives a very good idea of the character: mother scene Margie crying when, at the end of the Antarctic winter, after 20 days of total darkness and isolation, she sees a pale sun again and a penguin appears on the horizon.
An extreme vison of adventure, Don‘s, which earned him from the Australian Geographic Society the gold medal for “Feat of the Year.”

Don McIntyre
McIntyre at the 1992 BOC

The BOC Challenge

Quickly reviewing his life: after art studies and a start working as a photographer, Don in 1983 in Sydney started a business as an importer and seller of nautical equipment. In those years he also began to prepare his participation in the BOC Challenge, the solo round-the-world race in stages, and in the 1992 edition ranked second (in 1998 the race was renamed Around Alone and won by Giovanni Soldini on Fila, in the 2002 edition Simone Bianchetti came third on Tiscali). Also in the 1990s, he organized his first Antarctic and around-the-world exploration and then made it a professional activity.

Giovanni Soldini’s Open 60 Row.

Don McIntyre as Commander Bligh?

Among his adventures should certainly be mentioned in 2009’s“Talisker Bounty,” the idea was to retrace the experience of Commander William Bligh, the one–having to summarize to the fullest–of the “Mutiny of the Bounty.” In 1789, dismissed from his crew, along with 18 other sailors Bligh survived a 48-day Pacific voyage of about 4,000 miles from Tofua to Tonga. An epic feat, considered one of the most extreme in the history of navigation (essentially abandoning them that way was meant to be a death sentence).

Don McIntyre
The Talisker Bounty

McIntyre ingether with two other fellow adventurers. wanted to relive the experience on a 7.3-meter-long open boat rebuilt on the model of the whalers’ spears of the 1700s. On board water for 15 days, little food (but lines and knives) no charts. “We have seen death in the face – recounted the Australian – we flipped over four times“. McIntyre himself lost 18 kilograms during the trip, which ultimately lasted three hours longer than Captain Bligh’s.

The old style regattas

In 2018 McIntyre invented the Golden Globe Race, the first “vintage” non-stop solo sailing around the world, later won by Jean -Luc Van den Heede in 2019. After the second edition in 2022, won by South African Kirsten Neuschafer (first woman to win a solo race around the world) the next one will start in 2026: of the 30 possible entries 21 have already been booked.

The Ocean Globe Race Is chronicled today, born to recover the spirit of the first Whitebread of 1973: here the round-the-world voyage is by crew and in stages but still without technological aids, with the same instruments available in i973 (with, as emerged with the case of the Swan 65 Translated9, all the complicated jungle of rules, controls and interpretations that can ensue).

Globe 5.80 Mini One Design

Even the Minis in McIntyre’s version

In 2018, McIntyre created the Globe 5.80 Mini One Design, which is a super-cheap one-design class with marine plywood hulls and construction plans for sale on the class website for 300 euros (estimated construction time of 550 hours in two people). And if the Mini Globe Race (around the world) will start in October next year, the first boat in this class was launched in 2021, and two editions of the 5.80 Transat Only, from Lanzarote to Antigua (in the 2012 edition1 McIntyre himself won in the category Senior).

Don McIntyre
Don McIntyre and his Gyro Oz.

Adventure, as long as it is pure

More pills of Don McIntyre’s irrepressible appetite for extreme racing ? For example, his passion for rallying; in 2005 he and his wife took part in Targa Tasmania in a Peugeot 206 Gti. He competed with 120 other “modern classic” cars and finished 30th on an extremely low budget. He then made a tour of Australia in a tiny ultralight in 2007, retracing the route of the first flight in Australia.

And if that were not enough in 2005 he, again in the company of the inseparable Margie, repelled a pirate assault aboard their boat in Philippine waters.

Spirit of adventure, courage?
Recklessness, insanity?
You have the judgment.

Luca Sordelli



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