- Hans Weber
- November 29, 2023
Czech Sailor Ondřej Kotáb Takes on Grueling Ocean Globe Race
In an extraordinary display of grit and determination, Ondřej Kotáb, a 51-year-old sailor hailing from the Czech Republic, stands as the sole Czech participant in the prestigious Ocean Globe Race, a globally recognized sailing competition. The race embarked on its challenging journey from Southampton, England, last Sunday and is set to unfold across four demanding stages. Notably, the race course follows the historical route once traversed by 19th-century tea clippers.
Kotáb finds himself aboard the Pen Duick VI, under the captaincy of Marie Tabarly, the daughter of the legendary French sailor Éric Tabarly. This race is widely regarded as one of the most grueling sailing challenges worldwide, featuring a roster of 14 ships all vying for the coveted top prize.
The race’s inaugural stage, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will culminate in Cape Town, South Africa, a voyage expected to span approximately one and a half months. The subsequent stage, of similar duration, unfolds in the formidable Indian Ocean, presenting sailors with their most formidable challenge. Here, participants will navigate their vessels southward in pursuit of powerful winds, ultimately reaching the endpoint in Auckland, New Zealand, where Kotáb will disembark.
Sailors competing in the Ocean Globe Race are compelled to rely solely on a sextant, navigation tables, paper maps, and a logarithmic ruler for navigation. Modern navigation and rescue equipment are securely sealed and can only be employed in emergencies. The yachts themselves are equipped with motors but can only be utilized for maintenance purposes for one hour per week during the race.
Kotáb, a seasoned sailor with over 70,000 nautical miles (130,000 kilometers) of oceanic voyages under his belt, earned his place on the Pen Duick VI crew following a winter journey from France to the Canary Islands. He is slated to participate in the first two stages of the race, which represents the maximum allowance for volunteer sailors.
The Ocean Globe Race is far from a leisurely voyage; sailors endure grueling shifts of three hours on deck, three hours on standby, and three hours of rest. In addition, participants must adhere to time-honored traditions dating back to the race’s inception in 1973. These traditions include the prohibition of e-readers, permitting only printed books, and limiting music to cassette tapes and Walkmans.
The race’s third stage will reach its conclusion in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, before the epic journey concludes back in Southampton, England, after eight challenging months. Kotáb, undeterred by the immense trials ahead, remains resolute in his quest for victory, asserting, “It will be tough. It will definitely not be a walk in the park, but we want to win.”
Should Kotáb successfully complete the Ocean Globe Race, he will join an esteemed group of sailors who have conquered one of the world’s most formidable sailing challenges, etching his name in the annals of sailing history.
Article by Prague Forum