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The Magellan Challenge Race.
by Jim Betts Pointpubco@aol.com

Editors note:  Jim Betts (see bio) has worn many hats, including that of boat designer ( GP-16 & So-Du-It ) Here is his latest project
Check out his website: www.magellanchallenge.com

By way of background, I should explain that I have been working toward this event for some time. I was struggling toward a suitable design that would offer ultimate safety and yet be small enough to be affordable. I was primarily interested in the range of such a boat so that it could make long passages between the necessary stops for resupply of both food and fuel, plus giving the crew some time ashore between the legs of the race.
The major factor was fuel capacity to achieve the desired range. I did not want a floating fuel tank, so the determining factor was an engine that would give maximum range on a minimum of fuel.  This, of course, dictates that the engine provide relatively slow speed. Even so, the boat would have to be fairly light in order for the engine to power it at some fairly reasonable pace.
While I was using up a lot of paper and pencils, I happened upon an article in Passagemaker magazine that told about a designer in Australia who had designed and built what seemed to be the perfect boat. It was just 20 ft. LOA, was built of aluminum (which I had in mind from the start), Pazapa_docked.jpg (26187 bytes)
was self-righting from a complete rollover and was self-rescuing with watertight compartments and foam flotation material.  It was powered by a Yanmar two-cylinder diesel engine and had a speed of about six knots. This seemed to be about perfect for my projected race.
Pazapa_anchored.jpg (20007 bytes) From the start, I had in mind that such a boat should be not only a racer suitable for the around-the-world event, but also a boat that could be used (after the race or instead of the race) as a regular pleasure boat. Dave Jackman's boat, Pazapa, seemed quite suitable for general use - fishing,
cruising and just putt-putting around.  (Click for line drawing of Pazapa)  Early promotion said that this was "the boat." However, most respondents said it really looked more like a lobster boat than a racer, and they called for something more modern and less traditional. So back to the drawing board.  If, however,  you would like information about plans for wood or aluminum of Dave Jackman's original design, you should contact him at 44 Loftus Street, Nedlands, 6009, West Australia. e-mail:  loftsman@upnaway.com
What has resulted is a boat that still offers "normal" accommodations and features, but also has more the appearance of a racer (Click for line drawing of Magellan Challenger Mark II) and has some added features that make it even more suitable for the race. Pazapa - for example - was designed mainly for cruising on autopilot and there was no inside helm station, only a tiller in the cockpit. While autopilot is still a desirable feature, the boat really needs a dedicated helm so that you can play the waves to your benefit. The pilothouse was not fully enclosed and so was open to the weather. And there were no regular seats in the pilothouse. world.gif (10456 bytes)
Despite the seeming differences in our two approaches, the basic hull design remains the same. My changes are somewhat cosmetic, but go beyond that in some areas. I have deleted the trunk cabin as too complicated. Yes, this does reduce the headroom in the forward cabin from six feet to about five feet in part of its area. But note that there is full headroom in the after part of this cabin. The pilothouse has become bigger and no~; has a helm seat and pilot seat and the galley has moved from a shelf below to a full galley in the pilot house. With it all, I have simply enclosed the swim platform with the hull sides and extended to bow by three feet in order to get a bit more lifting form in the forward part of the hull and also give the boat a "racier" stem angle. So the boat is now 21 feet LOA rather than only 20. This is "free" because it does not add much to the materials required and time of building. Note that the foredeck is seldom used and so is enclosed by only a one-foot rigid railing. There is no need to go there, especially in bad weather.

The following will give you much more detail:

Map and Schedule of Course

The Big Picture
The Race
The Boat
The Engine
Water and Food
General Supplies and Gear

The Crew
Paying for the Boat
More About the Boats
Support Crew
Who is Jim Betts?
Who was Magellan?


The globe has been circled by sailboats (single-handed) 93 times, starting with Capt. Joshua Slocum in 1898. The smallest one was 12 feet, sailed by Sergio Testa, of Australia, in 1987. It's been done in balloons and atomic subs, but it's never been done in motorboats. Well, many mega-yachts have done it, but not as a race. There is the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly called the Whitbread) in sailboats, but this has a registration fee of $416,900. This will start from England Sept. 23, 2001. There are now 23 entries. There is also the New World Challenge, a 10 boat fleet of 72-foot sailboats starting in San Francisco in the spring of 2002. This will cost you $45,000 to be a crew member. The Magellan Challenge Race will be - by comparison - a "poor man's adventure."   Click here for a map and schedule of the course.


Previous material said the MC would start Jan. 1, 2001. Many of you have said (and I have learned) that there is not enough time to prepare. So the start will be Jan. 1, 2002. If all the boats are identical and have the same engine and speed, how do you race? Well, it's like all sorts of races -- you play the conditions; the "grove" in auto racing, the winds in sailboat racing, and such. You will play the sea conditions. Yes, you may win by a few minutes or a few hours, but a win is a win. The race will be scored by how you finish in each of the 18 legs. Each leg is a race. At the end, the scores are totaled for a grand winner. You get a point for each boat you beat.


Safety is the key. The boat is strong and well-built. It is self-righting and self-rescuing. And it's fairly comfy. The seas of the world are not really violent for the most part. "Long periods of boredom interrupted by moments of panic," as someone once said. All entries will - to be sure - be required to carry suitable safety equipment. In order to assure equal boats, I am in contact with a major builder of aluminum boats in the U.S. to be the official builder. Yes, it would seem to be an idea to have licensed builders worldwide, but why build boats around the world and then ship them to the start? It is easier to move people than boats. After the race, it is anticipated that many will want to sell their boats and the U.S. should be a strong market. Then too, we may do it again, so the boats can be put in storage until that time. Note that the cabin interior may be changed to suit you. What you see in the plans is a suggested layout. I am now awaiting a quote on the price of the boat. Based on various factors, I'm guessing about US$35,000. (As with all things boat-related, don't be surprised if this goes a bit higher!)


At this point, the engine is Yanmar 2GM20, two cylinder, 18.2 BP. This engine has been around for years and has a proven record of performance. Its "continuous" speed is 90% of its maximum or 16 HP. You could probably run this wide open for the entire race, but fuel consumption would suffer greatly and the chance of engine failure would increase. There is some thought about a "throttle-stop" or some other way of controlling the speed. We will see. NOTE: The Yanmar engines sold in the US are mostly fresh-water cooled. This is the 2GM20F. Most of those sold elsewhere in the world are sea-water cooled. These also have a hand-crank for starting, while the US version does not. Keep in mind that the sea-water/hand-crank version is special order in the US and takes about four months to deliver. The engines come with a spare-parts kit and this is strongly suggested.


The engine alternator generates 55 amps. The boat will have two heavy-duty 12-V batteries. You can run about any equipment you wish, including an electric stove and even a freezer/refrigerator. Radar pulls about 4 amps, an autopilot is about 1 amp. A 12-V refrigerator is about 5 amps.


The standard water tank is 40 gallons. This will do for two people for 18 days, the longest leg of the race. You may wish to carry more in bottles. And there's always soda and beer and such. A reverse-osmosis watermaker may also be carried. Take whatever food you like. Just keep in mind that cooking may not be easy at times. I show a one-burner stove, but you can probably fit a two-burner unit, or have a SeaSwing unit in addition to the one-burner unit. This would be handy to keep coffee on a good bit of the time. Keep in mind that canned stew and such can be eaten cold. Look into such things as HeaterMeals, which require no refrigeration and heat themselves. (See their website: https://www.heatermeals.com . You can order a trial package of six meals. Not cheap.)


It is assumed that everyone will use GPS. I suggest two, so you have a spare. They are not expensive these days. A sextant is certainly a good backup. You will not need every chart in the world and we plan to supply a chart-pack that shows the key areas and approaches to each port of call (see course). You may also carry such things as weather fax and such. Also radios and radio-phones, sat-phones, etc. Each boat will be required to be radar equipped and also carry a radar-detection device. I am in touch with two companies that do route plans for commercial shipping and they can do this for us. And a communications outfit that can monitor the race, keeping track of each boat.


You certainly do not want to haul a ton of stuff around the world on a small boat. Supplies of food and such are available at most of the stops. (Very little at Wake Island.) If you have special needs, it is our intention to have some sort of depot at each stop. Stuff can be shipped to a U.S. collection point and forwarded to a port along the way. Probably to a marina or yacht club where we will tie up. (This needs work and is something the "Support Crew" members could handle.)


Between the race days and lay days, we're looking at about eight months. Who knows how many can do the entire trip. So think about changing crews from time to time. Say you can do a month. This would be about from the U.S. to Lisbon. Then someone else would take over your position, etc. Then there is the matter of "qualification." There will be no "test," but you will be expected to file a statement about your boating experience. We do not encourage novices! Every effort will be made to match up suitable crews. Note that a crew of two is required. This is a matter of safety. SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations call for all vessels to maintain a constant watch. Many of the commercial ships are running on autopilot (as you may be).


If you want to participate for only part of the race, you may buy a share. With about eight months, and a crew of two, that's about 500 person/days. If the boat (all-up and ready to go) costs around $50,000, that's $100 per person per day. If you plan to participate for 30 days, that's $3,000. (Where can you get a month's vacation/adventure for that?) Someone may want to buy a boat and charter it for part of the race. In any event, banks, boat builders and such will require that each of the participating owners be responsible for the debt. (Is this getting too complicated?) Then there is the question of insurance. My agent says, "forget it!" We will have to look into this.


I am looking at this area very seriously. It is hoped that we can get some major companies that have world-market products. I can see, "LET PEPSI CHALLENGE YOUR TASTE" on each boat. There are a number of boat-gear companies that have expressed "interest." But, in general, the response so far has been, "Call me when you have at least 25 starters." The major goal of any sponsor is to get exposure. The MC Race is not exactly your "big event," because it is spread over such a long time. A plus to the idea of 18 legs, with a start and finish for each, is that you have 36 "events." In any case, sponsorship money is needed for prize money and possible subsidy of costs. (Including mine!) Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We have the same problem: You can't have a race without sponsors and you can't get sponsors without a race! Potential sponsors will quickly tell you there are already too many events. Those who are trying to sell sponsorships tell me it's tough. :In my past, I have sold everything from boats to advertising, so I know how it is. But you have to try and try and try. It will be nice if we can sell major sponsorships for the entire fleet, but it may come down to selling small spaces on individual boats. At the same time, I would hate for MC boats to look like stock car racers with many tacky decals pasted all over. We will just have to wait and see.


The boats will go about 6 knots and will have a cruising range of about 3,500 miles on 170 gallons of fuel. The longest leg of the race is some 2,500 miles, so there is a comfortable reserve. Fuel is available at every stop. At some of the stops it is not cheap; up to $2.75 a gallon. And fuel quality is not great, even in the U.S. A good filter system is a must, and spare filters are essential gear.


Earlier material indicated that we would offer plans for building in aluminum and wood. Not so. We do not offer plans because it seems best to have all the boats built by one established builder. This assures that all boats will be identical in all respects and to a high level of workmanship.


Even if you can't make the race - or even a leg of it - you can be part of the effort by joining as a member of the support crew. Help the entrants as you can. You will receive a regular newsletter about the Race and maybe we'll even have a nice T-shirt one day soon.


I have raced sailboats (and cars) for some 45 years. I have built five of the 12 boats I have owned. I founded the International Amateur Boat Building Society and published Amateur Boat Building magazine. With yacht designer Ted Brewer, I co-founded the Yacht Design Institute (a home-study program) and co-authored the book Understanding Boat Design. Co-designer (with Ted) of a number of boats, including the recent GP-16 and SO-DUIT! (See these on web site https://www.databoat.com ) In "real life," I am a journalist and publisher of magazines, books and newsletters. Author of five books, etc, etc. I guess my major credential is that I crewed for the late, great, George O'Day. Back in my dance-on-the-foredeck days.


Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) the Portuguese navigator who was the first European to discover a route by which ships could sail around the world, around the tip of South America. He set out with five ships in 1520 and was killed in the Philippines in 1521. One ship completed the voyage and landed in Seville Spain, from which they had sailed, Sept. 9, 1522; around the world in just over three years. While Magellan did not complete the voyage, he did circumnavigate the world. On a previous eastbound voyage to the East Indies, he had gone beyond the longitude of the Philippines. John Fiske, an American historian, said, "The voyage was doubtless the greatest feat of navigation that has ever been performed."

If you would like to visit some of the MC Race, go to https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov . This is the site for the National Data Buoy Center of NOAA. These buoys transmit weather conditions and even show you 360-degree pictures of the sea conditions in the area. You will not want to run into these as they are very big! (They do have radar reflectors.)


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