American Curt Morlock will be on the starting line of the first edition of the Global Solo Challenge, with the first start scheduled for next August in A Coruña, Spain, followed by a sequence of staggered starts according to boat performance. Aboard his Open 60 (ex-IMOCA) 6 Lazy K, he will be one of the last to set off and will try to catch up with those who left up to three months earlier.
Reading the description of the Global Solo Challenge for the first time, I was immediately struck by the reference to Jean de la Fontaine’s fable “The Hare and the Tortoise”, one of my favourite stories when I was younger. Indeed, with its innovative format and staggered starts over nearly three months, depending on the boat category, the GSC reminds me of the famous children’s story. And if there are indeed “tortoises” who will set off next August/September from the port of A Coruña, there are also some “hares”. Curt Morlock will be one of them.
At 64, Curt Morlock indeed has one of the fastest and most efficient boats in this first edition of the Global Solo Challenge. His sailboat, 6 Lazy K, is an Open 60 (ex-IMOCA), Nivelt design, built in 1999 by Thierry Dubois and skippered by him during the Vendée Globe 2000 and the Around Alone 2002 (Solidaires). It participated in the Vendée Globe 2004 under the name of VM Materiaux with Patrice Carpentier (DNF, broken boom) and finished 9th in the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 under the name of Great American III, skippered by Rich Wilson, the oldest participant in that edition. It also finished 3rd in the Velux 5 Oceans 2011 under the name of ActiveHouse with Derek Hatfield as skipper. A proven sailboat with an impressive track record, making Curt one of the last participants in the GSC to set off. “The format is extremely exciting; I can’t wait to get started. The first ones will run away, and the others will be in pursuit. Nobody will get bored!”, he says with a lot of enthusiasm.
So how did Curt Morlock, living in the beautiful state of Colorado, known more for its mountains than its proximity to the ocean, end up at the helm of such a prestigious boat? You have to go back in time to understand. Curt was born and raised in South Florida. “I lived a stone’s throw from the sea. When it’s windy, you sail, and surf. When there’s no wind, you fish, you go swimming… It’s a way of life”. He started sailing at a sailing school at 10 years old on his father’s 36-foot sloop. “Florida is known for its hurricanes; sometimes it was hot”. It was also at this time that the first edition of the Whitbread took place, and young Curt told himself that one day, he too would go around the world. Then one day, Curt moved to Colorado for professional reasons.
Back to the present. Curt has since started a family, had children, and can enjoy his retirement by rediscovering his childhood dream: to sail around the world alone. He therefore needed a boat. “I was looking for a safe sailboat. When you sail, you want to do it safely. It’s a big boat, so it’s more secure, and it’s already been around the world”. The field of safety was dear to Thierry Dubois: 6 Lazy K is equipped with 15 strictly divided watertight compartments, both longitudinally and laterally, so that the sailboat stays afloat no matter what. It also has a rear edge designed to be able to climb back on board whether the boat is right side up or upside down.
So in January 2021, he acquired his Open 60, which he renamed 6 Lazy K, in reference to his ranch in Colorado owned by Tim Kauffman. The boat, which was in Norway at the time, was convoyed to Caen, France, in the middle of winter, giving Curt the opportunity to test the capabilities of his new sailboat. “We had 35 knots of wind for 24 hours with 5 metre waves. But we were downwind, and it was very easy to sail and very exciting”. Since then, Curt and his boat have been inseparable. So much so that Curt has been living for a month now in his Open 60 in the heart of the V1D2 shipyard in Normandy, where the boat is located, and is working every day to prepare 6 Lazy K for the big day. “What’s good about being on the shipyard is that I can take care of it every day. There’s still a lot to do; we have to change the rigging, and we also just removed the mast. But the boat should be ready in June”, he assures.
The American does not skimp on safety, as you have understood. That’s also what Curt liked about the Global Solo Challenge. “It’s very reassuring to know that we are setting off in a group. For me and for my family too”. His loved ones, reassured to see him leaving in a setting with an event organisation that has made safety one of its priorities, are all behind him and push him to be on the starting line in A Coruña. “They know it’s an old dream, and everyone is encouraging me for this challenge”.
When it comes to talking about loneliness, food, or the Southern Seas, Curt Morlock maintains his enthusiasm and seems unshakeable. “I’m a hunter. I’m used to going alone into the forest and eating the same food three times a day for 30 to 40 days. Loneliness doesn’t scare me. And when it comes to sailing, the goal is to feel safe. For that, you can reef or put up a storm jib. There are many options.”
Curt envisions a circumnavigation that will last between 100 and 120 days, depending on weather conditions. First, he will have to complete his qualification passage, which he wishes to do in July, (a loop to the Azores), before making a transatlantic round trip if possible before the big start in December. “All I want right now is to be on the water and sailing”. And even though it’s the tortoise that ends up winning in Jean de la Fontaine’s story, Curt hopes this time it’s the hare that will prevail.