Sailing Solo Around the World
June 9, 2015
I am writing with some exciting news. In November, I will be making a solo, non-stop, unassisted, Round-The-World record attempt going from Newport, RI to Newport RI, leaving Antarctica to starboard, aboard my Class 40 sailboat GryphonSolo2 (“GS2”). The attempt will be made in accordance with the rules of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, who will time the start and finish in Newport. Additionally, a "WSSRC Black Box" will be installed on the boat, the data from which would be used to ratify any claim by GS2 that the existing record of 137d, 20h, 01m, 57s, set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013, has been broken.
As many of you know, I have been hoping, planning and dreaming of racing around the world since I was about 20 and now I am 55- not sure how that happened! I would say I have come dangerously close to doing this twice- first with my Open 50 GryphonSolo in 2008 in the Velux 5 Oceans Race before it was postponed and then they switched to only the Open 60’s. The second time was in the Global Ocean Race, that was conceived by Josh Hall and myself during the 2007 TJV race to Brazil, which ran twice- in 2008/9 and 2011/12- but will not go again. I bought my Marc Lombard-designed, Akilaria RC2 Class 40 GryphonSolo2 in 2011 - ironically a sistership to the boat that Guo Chan set the record in- with the express purpose of racing solo around the world, but alas there is no longer a race within which to do it. So, being all dressed up with nowhere to go, I have decided to “just do it” and will set out in November of this year on the record attempt.
This will no doubt be the greatest physical and mental challenge I have ever faced, and I would be lying if I said that the prospect of being alone on the great oceans of the world for four months was not an intimidating thought. It is. And the preparation at times seems overwhelming- but in the end, this will provide me the greatest test of my mettle that I can imagine. Solo sailing means 100% personal responsibility and self-reliance. It means no job too big and no job too small- everything from navigating, to sail changes and trimming to repairing what breaks, to cooking and cleaning. I will have to sail the boat quickly and wisely to beat the record, hopefully making no mistakes that would lead to damage to the boat.
While a voyage of this length truly tests a boat and skippers durability and resilience, I remain vulnerable to a mechanical or technical failure to a key piece of gear like the auto-pilots, the sails, the watermaker or my energy systems- solar, hydro and diesel. However, the boat has been through a complete refit under the watchful eye of Maine Yacht Center GM and Open 60/ Class 40 expert Brian Harris, as well as master Class 40 preparateur Rob Windsor, and now I just need to get some sea miles under the keel with the new systems. I have also upgraded my onboard satellite communications system and will now be able to send photos and video from the boat in addition to emails, so that should be entertaining! I have learned my lesson though, and there will be no online discussion of bodily functions… :)
I want to thank my wife Kim and kids- Griffin (17), Emmett (11) and Sophie (8)- for supporting me in this race. I know it is a lot to ask to be away for four months, but hopefully the time will go by quickly and I will be back at the beginning of March 2016, before lacrosse season begins! I welcome inquiries and hope that you all might join me on this record attempt ahead. I am also working on a book project that will hopefully capture the story of not just the race, but actually getting to the start line, which on a race of this type is usually the hardest part.
I look forward to being in touch as I start racing this summer and will then take some longer offshore training runs in the fall. The first event on the racing calendar is BIock Island Race week in the Double-Handed class June 22-26, so hope to see many friends there.