Why Class Globe 5.80?

I like small boats! I used to draw ocean-going mini cruisers as a teenager, inspired by the Hunter 19ft Willing Griffin sailing the OSTAR in 1972, and later reading reports of the first Plywood Muscadet Mini Transat yachts in 1977.

Don McIntyre, Founder

At that time, I was building my 29ft SKYE, about to set sail into the Pacific. In 1979, SKYE anchored in a beautiful French New Caledonian bay, and a tiny 21ft plywood sloop dropped anchor alongside. The solo skipper had an original windsurfer (nearly as big as his boat) strapped to the side. He launched the board, donned a backpack and sailed over, asking if I could keep an eye on his boat. He was about to windsurf 120 miles to another island, then back for fun! SURE! Turns out he had raced in the Mini Transat, then kept sailing across the Pacific on his way around the world and was a well-known long-distance competitive windsurfer! I was impressed and we later enjoyed some interesting conversations!

Micro Cruiser Mini

30 years later, with three others, I sailed 4000 miles across the Pacific (from the Kingdom of Tonga to Kupang in West Timor), in an open 25ft whale boat, with basically nothing! No toilet paper, no charts, only two weeks of water and virtually no food etc, recreating the epic voyage of survival by William Bligh and 18 of his men following the Mutiny on the Bounty. I’ve had a few adventures, but this was simply the most amazing fun and the BEST. During the 48-day voyage, I lost 18kg, suffered kidney stones, swamped the boat nearly capsizing four times and we were all nearly lost on an isolated reef one night, but WOW. The simplicity of a simple wooden boat, ropes, nails and sails with a knife and a compass was adventure at its best – totally free, human, serene, and pure.

Ever since, I considered starting a Bountry Challenge Race on the same course, for small plywood yachts that fit in a 20ft container. I looked at various designs and indeed bought a set of plans and made some noise to see if anyone was interested,. But each time, I knew shipping to the central Pacific was a bummer for any event.

My last scheduled adventure was to race the 2018 Golden Globe, but I could not, because I had to organise and manage it instead. A few weeks before the start of the GGR in Les Sables-d’Olonne, I heard about a group of passionate Polish sailors, racing the simplest home-built 5 metre plywood yachts you could ever imagine, with homemade wind vanes and not much else… across the Atlantic! These SETKA A designs by Janusz Maderski are small, simple, sensible and safe ocean voyaging yachts. The course across the Atlantic and basic organisation was OK! The TOTAL budgets to build and equip them to sail across the Atlantic varied from €6,000 (yes that is correct) to around €10,000. One Australian shipped his SETKA to Poland to enter. I was impressed, but not many in the world new about this adventure. I followed their event with real understanding, while others may question why? All eight sailors were following a dream and safely crossed the Atlantic!  I spoke to one of the owners. Things were falling into place. An idea was growing…

Les Sables D’Olonne is home to the Classe Mini 6.50 for at least the next three editions of the Mini Transat. During the GGR2018, I was able to watch from the GGR office a few of their scheduled events from the Vendee Marina and meet a few skippers. The vibe of this 6.50 Class, which evolved from Bob Salmon’s original 1977 Mini Transat is electric and inspiring. I have followed their evolution and admired them from the very beginning. But what about ordinary sailors like me?

In September 2019, a few things changed in my life, opening a window of opportunity for a personal adventure in 2021. My little boat dream!

Frustration at not sailing the GGR2018 had been building. It was time to act. Voices within called for another adventure. I asked Janusz Maderski, designer of the 5m SETKA A to draw me a bigger evolution of this design, able to circumnavigate. I would develop this into a One Design Class Globe 5.80 that fits inside a 20ft container, has simple, strong construction that anyone can build at home, anywhere in the world.

The design is so pure, simple and wholesome. It is drawn by hand, not by a fluid dynamics program, or with finite stress analysis. The systems are basic for honest sailing. I like it a lot.

I presented it to friends and half say they are going to build! I gave a hint to media at the 2020 BOOT Dusseldorf show and they said WOW! I found a friend in Poland, Piotr Czarniecki, to build mine. So it begins! This is the start of something? I am not sure what. Big? Maybe? But I know it is AFFORDABLE, FUN, ADVENTURE, with real CHALLENGE – the stuff of DREAMS for some. All this wrapped up in a Mini, Mini! I am really excited! I am going sailing. Woop Woop! What about you?

Don McIntyre, Founder

Past Mini Transat entrants like Simon Curwen (currently entered in the 2022 Golden Globe Race), like the opportunity that Class Globe 5.80 yachts and events give all sailors. 

In creating Class Globe 5.80, Don McIntyre is taking the Mini back to its roots, just as he has succeeded in doing for the Golden Globe Race and the Ocean Globe Race, creating events that inspire, and that cater for those don’t have the resources to participate in the current generation of Vendee Globes, Ocean Races or Mini Transats (Transat 6.50).

The Mini Transat was created by Bob Salmon, with the first event held in 1977. It sought to create a race that was affordable and achievable, as the OSTAR became the preserve of multihulls and larger yachts. Since then Classe Mini and the Mini Transat Race has gone from strength to strength but has also, for some time now, become a development class for innovation. The popularity of the event means that it takes a three year campaign to ensure an entry, and the budgets for a competitive campaign have escalated.

The Globe 5.80 goes back to the concept that Bob Salmon envisaged. Small ocean-capable boats that open up ocean sailing to everyone. Low budget, readily transportable, restricted one-design for competitive racing (or cruising of course) and with an ambitious programme of events. What is there not to like?

The 5.80 will not compete with the 6.50 which will remain a hotbed of innovation, full of sailors enjoying the technical challenge and the comradery of the class and with the opportunity to develop a career in offshore solo racing. But there is surely a place for an exciting new class encouraging those of limited budgets to enjoy offshore sailing in ocean-capable boats, with exciting events that will create the camaraderie that is experienced Classe Mini 6.50 fleet. 

Simon Curwen, 2nd in Mini Transat 2001. Lombard 240 – “Sampaquita”