The “Boingos” are back!
It was in the later 80-ies as a group of four sailing friends from the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland were fed up of sailing on my Moody 33 or on charter yachts not nearly fulfilling our desires and decided to purchase an own boat. A new Gib’Sea 442, “Oingo Boingo” named after a Californian Rock band, was the right boat at the time and we immediately started to sail longer distances in the Med, normally with “not sailors at all” Crews generated from our social surrounding. We quite liked these long travels and suddenly we learned that in 1991 there will be the start of a Circumnavigation Rally for Cruisers called “Europa 92”. All of us were excited about the idea to participate and after a feasibility checkup it was a quick decision that we can and want to do it being still relatively young and not limited by familiar circumstances. Finally the project started very successful by winning the first ever leg of WCC Round the World Rallies from Gibraltar to Las Palmas with Skipper Roland Schlachter in January 1991. We finished the Rally being successful in all aspects: The perfect steady Crew of four, variable Crews made from friends, performance and reliability of the boat etc.
Myself I could only manage the Swiss “head quarter” of the project because I became a father in 1992. The Kings Cup in Thailand and one leg was all I could sail during this Rally.
The excitement of the “Europa 92” adventure didn’t leave us and soon thereafter we bought a new Yacht to do it again: “Best of Boingo” (name of the newly released Album of “Oingo Boingo” at the time), a Gib’Sea 48 Plus. Roland and Fabienne Schlachter got finally married and skippered also the following WCC Round the World Rally, with me again staying at home most of the time for the backup. With “Best of Boingo” we sailed around twice, participating also in the third WCC Rally around “Expo 98”, this time with a Crew and Skipper not sourced from the core team, which was a lesser good experience, not for the least because we lost our Rigging on the second leg and were urged to catch up with the fleet West of Panama. Again I could not sail for longer because of several reasons and my part was unchanged sitting at home and assist.
After the “Expo 98” project the core group concentrated of raising their families as “sea sailors” and the Med was the better water to do this. Finally in 2006 “Best of Boingo” was sold and a new Dufour 44 Performance was the next boat we managed to finance. We sail “Boi `Ngo” (another Album of “Oingo Boingo”) with our friends in all regions of the Med since and currently she lays in Turkey.
We kept many good relations and friends from our former projects and the family Schlachter invites the major “Boingo”-Crews regularly for an “Alp-meeting” in “Ruchebüehl”, far above the lake of Thun. The latest of this coming together was just recently in May this year, when I had the chance to see Astrid and Wilhelm from WCC “Germany” again.
After three “World ARC” and some years of relaxed, stress free Med-Cruising it is about the time to sail more than only holiday sequences, I said to myself. No doubt, if going for longer it had to be a WCC-event and only the WARC could fulfill my desires. However, since I’m not wealthy enough, too young for early retirement and my kids are not yet on their own feeds, there is still a beloved mutual dependence with my Job ;-) Hence a limited time on sea was a given condition and I needed two things really: The availability of a/our boat and share skippers to run the boat when I’m back at work. To make a long story short: Both came out right in short time – together with our many sailing friends we managed to acquire a second yacht, a reasonable aged Grand Soleil 50 of 2007, and two offshore sailing friends from my near neighborhood in Gstaad caught fire being share skippers. On the same run we also found another and most important condition fulfilled: Two “steady crew” sailing the entire Rally. So the Team looks as follows:
- The boat: “Boingo alive” (another Album of “Oingo Boingo”), with a strong Performance Rigging and well equipped, currently in a refit and preparation program in the Med (France and Spain).
- Skipper from Spain to the Galapagos including the ARC: Myself (Captain “Wulf”), older, employed civil engineer, working for the Swiss Railway System SBB, married, two children in education. Sailing as a Skipper regularly since 1978, washed with almost all waters ;-).
- Skipper from the Galapagos to South Africa, Crew on the ARC: Konrad (Koni) Zeller, a middle aged Single, self-employed light-designer. Experienced Cruising Skipper in the Med and the Caribbean since 2007.
- Skipper from South Africa to the Caribbean, Vice-Skipper on the WARC: Dominik (Dondi) Peretten, a young Single man, employed civil engineer. Keen sailor on the sea since 2002, little experience as a Skipper.
- Steady Crew starting in the Med: Sandra (San) Balsiger, middle aged Single Lady in good condition and young at heart, self-employed (runs own clothing and embroidery business). “Absolute beginner” - in 2012 she sailed for the first time in her life (Caribbean and Med) and caught solid fire.
- Steady Crew from the WARC-start: Markus (Butz) Witschi, middle aged Single, employed Alpine sports-equipment expert, gave up his Job for the project. Little experience, sailing irregularly since 1991, when he joined us on our first Round the World Rally and could not stay as long as he planned at the time.
- Completing Crews on the entire voyage: The minimal Crew of three is “saved”, but will rarely or never be the operational case. Many others, almost all sourced from our long-term sailing fellows and friends, will join us along our way. Some of them have planned to stay for several months, others will only spend “ordinary” holidays on board. We will be joined by people making their very first step on a sailing boat but also by very experienced sailors like a sailing instructor or Roland and Fabienne Schlachter, our two times Round the World Skipper couple and back-up support during the trip.
Since the fact, that the core project team is still the same as back in 1991, when we first set off to sail around, this project is truly a revival.
The long and intensive preparing time started already back in 2012, after the purchase of the Grand Soleil. We sequenced our pre-program in 10 phases. The 3 first phases included the “high-jacking” of “Boingo alive” in Croatia to bring it to Ancona (Adriatic coast of Ita engine, which resulted in more than planned costs (as usual for this kind of work ly). There we made the boat ready underwater and made an thorough check and revision of our ;-). The third phase, sailing and testing the boat on a trip to the South of France, is now concluded. In June we make many installations and adaptation on the entire boat, some of them also as result of our delivery up to Port Camargue, where the boat lays currently. By the end of June we will celebrate the Christening and do some sailing training with many of our Crews joining us down there.
The next phases will include the delivery to the South of Spain (Almerimar), last equipping actions in “mother Continental-Europe” before we’ll set off to be in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in due time for the last checks and upgrades prior to the first Ocean-crossing with the ARC. The last preparing phase will be in the Caribbean to get everything set up right for the WARC start in January 2014.
All of us are very excited to be part of the ARC/WARC/WCC events again and, in fact and by morally binding commitment of the tree Skippers, we intend to keep all our programs running after the WARC 14-15 project and do all again and again (3 times participation to make sure, that all the Skippers will be genuine and true “Round the World Skippers” one day in the longer term prospect).
We are looking forward to our great adventures to come and to meet all of you, WCC-event-friends, one day! See you sooner or later!
Kurt Iseli, alias “Cpt. Wolf”