round the world yachtsmen

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round the world yachtsmen

Gerbault and the “Firecrest”

Having abandoned his profession as a civil engineer, Alain Gerbault sailed a 39- ft yacht round the world. Though several times death all but claimed this fearless adventurer, he achieved an astonishing triumph

GREAT VOYAGES IN LITTLE SHIPS - 3

Alain Gerbault photographed at Suva, in the Fiji Islands

AFTER he had sailed round the world in the old English cutter Firecrest , Alain Gerbault , the French yachtsman, linguist and lawn tennis player, had a new yacht built for him and sailed single- handed back to the Pacific. There he took up his abode among the Polynesians. In two of his books, The Flight of the Firecrest and In Quest of the Sun (Hodder and Stoughton), Gerbault tells the story of his world voyage and reveals part of his character. His attitude towards life is the opposite of that expected of the conventional Frenchman, as Gerbault states his decision to avoid cities and to lead the plain life of the sailor and bathe body and mind in sunshine.

A MODERN ULYSSES. Gerbault photographed at Suva, in the Fiji Islands. Tired of cities and civilization, this intrepid amateur sailor set out to find solace on a voyage which took him round the world.

His imagination and sensitiveness isolated him at school, but he found that the sea offered solace. His father owned a yacht, and Gerbault made friends with the children of the Breton fishermen. He dreamed of the day when he would own his own boat.

Gerbault’s imagination was fired by reading books about the sea, and even during the war of 1914- 18, when he was an aviator, he longed to be afloat. He and two comrades decided to buy a yacht and sail her round the world.

As it happened, the two friends were killed, and after the war Gerbault decided that he, the survivor, would carry out the voyage alone. He had been trained as a civil engineer, but abandoned his profession and began to look for a yacht that he could handle by himself.

After having searched in France for a year Gerbault crossed the Channel. He found the Firecrest near Southampton and bought her. The Firecrest was the type of yacht that few experienced cruising men would have selected for a blue- water cruise, but Gerbault was enthusiastic about her, and rightly so, for she did all that he asked her to do. The Firecrest was a racing cruiser, designed by the late Dixon Kemp , and built by P. T. Harris at Rowhedge, Essex, in 1892. Her overall length was 39 feet, her length on the water- line 30 feet, her beam 8 ft 6- in, and her draught 7 feet. She had a lead keel weighing three and a half tons, with another three tons of inside ballast.

The Firecrest was flush- decked, with a companion- way, a hatch forward, two skylights and a sail- locker hatch. A 6- ft canvas folding dinghy was carried folded on deck.

The yacht was built of oak and teak. Her accommodation was divided into three compartments - forecastle, saloon and the cabin aft. This sleeping cabin had two bunks, with lockers under them, a wash- basin with a fifteen- gallons water tank and book- racks.

The saloon had lockers and a folding table; the forecastle contained two folding cots and the galley. Gerbault cooked on a paraffin pressure stove hung on gimbals to counteract the roll of the yacht.

His other two water- tanks were forward, and he stored provisions in the lockers. Light was provided by an oil lamp and by candles hung on gimbals. He preferred the cutter rig to that of ketch or schooner on the ground that he found it easier to reef than to furl sails and because the cutter rig gave him the maximum efficiency for his needs.

Gerbault took the Firecrest to the Riviera. She was tested by gales in the Bay of Biscay during this passage, and fully justified his faith in her. He spent more than a year cruising on the Riviera with an English boy for shipmate, playing in lawn- tennis tournaments. He set out single- handed from Cannes in April, 1923, for the first stage, a sail to Gibraltar, when he felt sure he was fit to stand the physical and mental strain.

At this period Gerbault carried a squaresail and ran before a gale, logging thirty miles in three hours, an exceptional run for a boat only 30 feet on the water- line.

With such an unusually narrow yacht the single- handed sailor found the task of getting in the squaresail dangerous, as he appears to have made the mistake of carrying on too long before a rising gale. The yard of the squaresail was 20 feet long, and in trying to get it down Gerbault found that the lee- end touched the water, and he nearly went over the side. It took him over an hour to get sail and yard stowed on deck, and the experience was such that he vowed never to use it again. He had then had sixteen hours at the tiller, and was glad to heave to for the night.

A photograph of Alain Gerbault sitting in the bow of the Firecrest

AFTER 24,000 MILES. A photograph of Alain Gerbault sitting in the bow of the Firecrest after his arrival at Suva. The Firecrest , which had suffered considerably on her voyage through bad weather and running aground, was hauled up on a slipway at Suva, where some necessary repairs were made. After having left here the yachtsman sailed west to New Guinea, and then passed through the Torres Strait, north of Australia.

The old- fashioned plank- on- edge type of cutter naturally proved hard on her gear in a storm in the turbulent Mediterranean. Gerbault had scarcely started before he was busy with repairs. He had roller- reefing on his mainsail, and the gooseneck of that broke; a topping lift parted; and then his jib halyard gave way and spilled the jib into the sea. He saved the sail at the risk of his life.

When the gale ceased, a period of light airs and calms ensued that lasted for nearly three weeks, and it was not until May 15 that Gerbault anchored at Gibraltar. He had a well- stocked library aboard, and, more important, had the right temperament for enduring protracted calms. This gift of patience is essential for the deep- sea cruising man, and unless he possesses it he will subject his nerves to a strain that will be greater than that imposed by a gale.

Some of the dockyard “mateys” at Gibraltar still remember the state of the Firecrest’s gear when she arrived; it was certainly in a bad condition. Everything was put right, however, and in a few weeks Gerbault prepared for a non- stop sail from Gibraltar to New York. It was an ambitious effort, as no one had attempted the east to west passage non- stop and single- handed before.

In addition to the necessity of overhauling the vessel before embarking on such a trip, there arose the important problem of food and water. Gerbault took aboard the following supplies: 80 gallons of water, 80 lb of salt beef, 60 lb of ship’s biscuit, 30 lb of butter, 20 lb of bacon, 24 pots of jam and 50 lb of potatoes. He left Gibraltar on June 6, and was fortunate enough to find enough wind to blow him clear of the Rock, so that at night he saw the Tangier light. Then the wind, which had increased to gale force, veered right ahead, and blew his jib to pieces; therefore he reefed his mainsail and hove to under that and the foresail while be turned in for the night.

Next day he had more trouble. The patent roller- reefing gear, which had been repaired at Gibraltar, failed because of a fracture; and the mainsail began to part at the seams; thus before he was two days out of Gibraltar he was busy repairing his mainsail. He passed Cape Spartel, the African corner of the Strait of Gibraltar, and gained the open Atlantic, picking up the trade wind on the third day.

Noon observations showed Gerbault that the Firecrest had covered fifty miles in the first two days from Gibraltar. Considering the strong set of the currents into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, and in view of the fact that he had left the yacht to herself at night, he had done fairly well. When he settled down to run before the trade wind, he found that the design of the Firecrest needed a hand at the tiller all the time; thus he steered for twelve hours, after which he hove to and went below to sleep, turning out at five o’clock in the morning to cook breakfast. This consisted of porridge, bacon, ship’s biscuit and butter, and tea and condensed milk. In common with most other yachtsmen who have cooked in the forecastle of a small yacht, he found that the roll was too much for the gimbals, so that whatever was on them occasionally rolled off.

The course of Gerbault’s voyage is shown on these sketch maps

ROUND THE WORLD. The course of Gerbault’s voyage is shown on these sketch maps. He began his trip when he left Cannes, in the French Riviera, in April, 1923, and ended it when he reached Le Havre in July, 1929. The Firecrest , an English boat, was built at Rowhedge, Essex, in 1892. Her overall length was 39 feet, her length on the water- line 30 feet, her beam 8 ft 6- in, and her draught 7 feet. The yacht, which Gerbault bought near Southampton, was built of oak and teak. Her accommodation was divided into forecastle, saloon and cabin aft. This vessel weathered all the storms and gales of the ocean and her name will never be forgotten by yachting enthusiasts.

The course of Gerbault’s voyage is shown on these sketch maps

The need for constant steering necessarily added greatly to his labours, and before long he had more trouble with his gear. The bobstay, running from the end of the bowsprit to the stem, broke, and he had to go out to the end of the bowsprit to repair the wire rope. Then the foot of the mainsail ripped.

In the neighbourhood of Madeira, which he did not sight, the trade wind fell off. During the calms that followed, Gerbault experimented with his sails and found that by furling the mainsail, setting the trysail and trimming the jib in flat he could get the Firecrest to hold her course unaided by the tiller. He was therefore able to sail round the clock, although the speed under this rig was not as good as that under the full mainsail: thus freed from the tyranny of the tiller he was able to enjoy life a little more.

When Gerbault had been at sea for a month he found that the bulk of his water had gone sour. He carried fifty gallons in two new casks that he had bought at Gibraltar, and this had gone bad. Only half of the thirty gallons he had stored in galvanized iron tanks remained; thus he had to ration himself to half a glass of water a day. When the wind came again his sails kept ripping; and then his salt beef began to go bad. This happened when he had about 2,400 miles to sail.

The cutter Firecrest, in which Alain Gerbault sailed round the world

THE YACHT that sailed round the world. The cutter Firecrest , in which Alain Gerbault sailed round the world alone, taking some six years to accomplish an astounding feat of endurance and navigation. In his 39 ft boat, which was over thirty years old, the French navigator sailed more than 40,000 miles. His course was from east to west.

Before long, various parts of the wire rigging gave trouble. Gerbault found that for many purposes rope is better than steel wire, because rope will bear jerks and jolts much better than wire. He cut his water ration to a cup a day, and a fortnight passed before he was able to catch a quart of rain- water in a sail. Then he contracted fever and was too listless to pick up the flying fish that flopped on to the deck during the night. When he recovered he threw the cask of salt beef overboard. He was successful in catching fish, dangling his feet in the water to attract them and then spearing them as they came near to inspect. Not until August did he meet heavy rain, and this yielded him ten gallons of water. The fish diet then gave him a mild form of fish poisoning, and he had to restrict that type of food.

Gales swept the yacht as she sailed through the hurricane belt. On one occasion Gerbault had to climb into the rigging to get out of reach of a sea that broke aboard the Firecrest , burying her deck under tons of water. The sea broke the bowsprit and caused part of the rigging to give way, so that the mast was in danger.

To add to his troubles, both the stoves were out of action, and he considered running for Bermuda, the nearest port. After having had some rest, however, he set to work on one of the stoves and obtained a hot meal. He then repaired the rigging and his broken bowsprit. After this he was determined to make for New York, which he eventually reached 101 days out from Gibraltar.

Gerbault then went to France, leaving the Firecrest in New York. He returned to her in 1924, to fit her out for the passage to the South Seas. The refitted Firecrest was a great improvement on the old ship. She had a new Oregon pine bowsprit, new standing rigging, new sails, a water tank holding forty- four gallons, a bronze bobstay, a hollow boom and a new roller- reefing gear. The original gaff mainsail was replaced by a triangular one. Among the stores were a bow and arrows for shooting fish, rifles, a mile and a half of film and a library of books.

Sailing from New York in November, Gerbault met bad weather almost from the start. On November 5, when he had not seen a vessel for two days, he saw that his port light was out, and went- below to light it, but stopped to prepare a meal. He was filling the lamp when a steamer scraped the bowsprit of the Firecrest . Hastening on deck, Gerbault saw her lights as she continued on her course, evidently unaware that she had scraped the yacht, which she had probably not seen in the darkness. The force of the blow tore the bitts out of the foredeck of the Firecrest and broke the forestay and the jibstay, so that the mast threatened to go at any moment. Gerbault carried out temporary repairs, but had an anxious time in the gales that battered the yacht before she anchored in the harbour of St. George, Bermuda.

Thus, in spite of his elaborate fitting- out in New York, the accident of the collision and the effect of the gales on the crippled yacht reduced her to a sorry state in little more than a fortnight. As he had set out before stretching his new sails the gales had spoiled the set of the mainsail, and he had to have that recut.

Much of the work done in New York had to be done all over again in Bermuda. One expensive job was the re- caulking of the hull, which meant that the copper sheathing had to be raised and then put into place again. Gerbault had been in France while his yacht was being refitted in New York; but in Bermuda he was on the spot, supervising the work and seeing that it was done to his satisfaction.

Repairs took about three months. Gerbault then sailed for Colon, the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal , which he reached without mishap. He was towed through the Canal, and spent some time at Balboa, on the Pacific side. Here he met Harry Pidgeon , a Los Angeles photographer, who was on the concluding stage of a single- handed voyage round the world in the yawl Islander , only 34 feet long, which Pidgeon had built himself. He was the second man to sail round the world alone.

Gerbault’s next stage was from Panama to the Galapagos Islands. Because of the medley of currents and the fickle and light winds the voyage from Panama to the Galapagos Islands is one of the most tedious stretches of water for a sailing vessel. On one occasion Gerbault had sailed 450 miles through this stretch of water in about a fortnight, but because of the adverse current he had travelled only five miles. Then he managed to creep south to Malpelo Island, an isolated rock 300 miles from the mainland of South America, and slowly forged ahead out of the northerly set of currents.

At last, thirty- seven days out of Panama, he reached Chatham Island, in the Galapagos, some 800 miles from Panama. Here he obtained water and fruit, and prepared for the long sail of 3,000 miles to the Gambier Archipelago.

GERBAULT ARRIVING AT LE HAVRE in July, 1929, at the end of his voyage

ARRIVING AT LE HAVRE in July, 1929, at the end of his spectacular voyage. Gerbault avoided a constant watch on the tiller since he found that if he furled his mainsail, set the trysail and trimmed the jib in flat, the Firecrest could hold her course. This picture shows the cutter being towed to a landing stage.

Gerbault ran south, losing the trade wind in a week of calm. When the wind returned the rigging was in such a bad state that several mishaps happened almost at once. A backstay went and so did both topping lifts and six mast- hoops, and the oak tiller snapped. After, forty- nine days at sea Gerbault anchored in the harbour of Rikitea. In the months he spent with the natives Gerbault learnt their language, and then sailed 1,000 miles north to the Marquesas, where he again made many Polynesian friends, becoming more and more friendly with them. He sailed on to the coral islands of the Tuamotu group, and so to Tahiti. His attitude to the officials was to avoid them, and he says that he was- almost as solitary living aboard the Firecrest in the harbour of Papeete as when he had been at sea; but he made many friends among the natives. When he sailed to Bora Bora, an island near Tahiti, he became friendly with the officers of British and French naval sloops.

It was at Wallis Island that Gerbault had the misfortune to be blown on to a reef while at anchor. He had previously lost his anchors and had borrowed one, which failed to hold the yacht in a gale. The Firecrest knocked off her lead keel on the reef, and Gerbault was swimming to the shore when, relieved of the weight of the keel, the Firecrest floated over the top of the reef and followed him to the beach, digging a berth for herself in the sand.

Wallis Island consists of an island and a number of islets surrounded by a lagoon which is enclosed by a coral reef. Gerbault entered this lagoon by a passage in the wall of coral. The Firecrest was wrecked on a reef in this lagoon and went ashore, without the lead keel, on the beach of the main island. About 5,000 Polynesians lived on the island, but there were no shipwrights or smiths.

The first thing Gerbault did was to right the Firecrest . He took all the ballast out and moved his personal belongings to the homes of friends ashore. With the aid of natives the yacht was righted and shored up. The lead keel was uncovered by the tide, which left the reef at low water. A lighter was floated over the keel at high water, and the keel was lashed to the bottom of the lighter and floated by this means to the beach near the hull of the yacht.

Gerbault replaced his belongings aboard the Firecrest and lived in the yacht while he waited for aid from civilization. His chief concern was to obtain new bolts for the keel. After many weeks a steamship having a forge aboard entered the lagoon, and the chief engineer forged two iron bolts and made four bronze bolts out of an old propeller shaft.

After several failures the keel was placed in position by shifting it into the water and floating the hull over it. Two Chinese, however, who were the only artisans on the island, made the holes in the wooden keel so large that when the tide rose the water leaked in at an alarming rate. At this stage the French naval sloop Cassiopee , sent to aid Gerbault by the French Minister of Marine, arrived. Before long her crew had fixed the keel firmly in position.

A picturesque view of the yacht Firecrest moored on the River Seine

IN PARIS. A picturesque view of the yacht Firecrest moored on the River Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. After his amazing trip, the French mariner published the story of his adventures and sailed back alone in another yacht to the Pacific Islands where he lived among the Polynesians, whose company he found congenial.

During his stay of some months Gerbault had become so popular with the islanders that they asked him to stay and be their chief, but when the Firecrest was repaired he put to sea. On arriving at Suva, in the Fiji Islands, he had the Firecrest hauled up on a slipway, and further repairs were made. After having left Fiji, Gerbault put in at various islands and reached New Guinea, and then passed through the Torres Strait, north of Australia. He nearly came to grief in the reef- strewn waters when his anchor chain parted, after he had lost his kedge anchor because of the hawser snapping. Without an anchor, he was relieved to see a native sloop, and when he hailed the men they offered to tow him to Coconut Island. He took the tow- rope, and several natives came aboard; these men were alarmed when the Firecrest heeled over in the- brisk breeze, as they were not- familiar with this habit of narrow, deep- draught yachts.

At the island, Gerbault was unable to buy an anchor, but managed to borrow one on condition he left it at Thursday Island for the owner’s friends to collect. Gerbault obtained ground tackle at Thursday Island and sailed clear of the reefs. He went on to the

Cocos- Keeling Islands, where he saw the remains of the famous German raider Emden .

Gerbault then sailed across the Indian Ocean to Rodriguez, and for the first time trusted himself to a pilot. The Firecrest touched the coral in a narrow channel, the pilot not realizing that a deep- keeled yacht carries considerable way on her.

At the next island, Reunion, he had various ironwork repaired, which was a wise resolve, as the passage to Durban was a rough one. It was even rougher to Cape Town, where Gerbault dry- docked the Firecrest , finding that teredo worms had eaten away part of the rudder stock.

His next stages were St. Helena and Ascension Island, and the passage from Ascension to the Cape Verde Islands brought trouble. He crossed the Equator and slowly worked north up to the islands, but was baffled by bead winds when near them.

Porto Grande, the chief harbour in the group, is in the island of St. Vincent, which is separated from the island of St. Antonio by a channel a few miles wide through which the trade wind blows with some force, raising a strong current. Instead of standing clear of this by going round St. Antonio, where he would have had ample sea room, and turning to approach Porto Grande from the north, Gerbault made many attempts at the channel; thus he became tired out. The wind fell light, and he slept, to be awakened by a slight shock as the Firecrest stranded on a reef a few yards from the beach of St. Antonio, where the current had carried her.

Gerbault’s activity in getting ashore and locating a village when he realized that nobody had seen his plight saved the Firecrest , as the weather remained fine long enough for her to be taken off. A hole had been knocked in her side, but this was plugged, and, with a crew manning a line of buckets to keep her afloat, she was towed across the channel to Porto Grande. She was repaired and Gerbault sailed, but she leaked so badly that he turned back and decided to stay at St. Vincent for some months, superintending repairs and writing a book.

When he left for the fast time it was obvious to him that the Firecrest would not last much longer; she leaked, compelling him to work hard at the pump to keep her afloat. He put in at the Azores and then sailed on the last stage of the long voyage, arriving at Le Havre in July, 1929.

More than six years had elapsed since the Firecrest had sailed from Cannes, and she had covered more than forty thousand miles.

Gerbault proved himself a skilful navigator, but was less happy with his gear. He was hampered by having to start with an old boat. Such a voyage is hard on a little yacht which was over thirty years old when she had left France. Slocum and Pidgeon sailed in new boats.

Despite the hardships of life in a small yacht, Gerbault had energy to spare for tennis and football when he went ashore in tropical ports. Twice wrecked, he patched up the Firecrest and completed the voyage when a man of less persistence would have admitted defeat.

Physical fitness served Gerbault in good stead on many occasions. When the yacht had stranded at a desolate spot on St. Antonio, he half- ran and half- walked over broken country under a hot sun without the least fatigue, although he had had little rest for four days. Then he worked hard removing gear from the yacht and gave a cinema entertainment to the islanders who had come to his aid; not until then did he think about sleep.

Gerbault’s determination and his physical fitness were outstanding features of a wonderful voyage of circumnavigation.

AN ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD thronged the quay at Le Havre to greet Alain Gerbault when he landed

AN ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD thronged the quay at Le Havre to greet the solitary yachtsman when he landed in France. This photograph shows the adventurer being helped from his vessel by some friends. During the last stages of the voyage from St. Vincent (Cape Verde islands), Gerbault had not only to work his yacht alone, but also to labour at the pumps to keep her afloat, as she was in such a poor condition.

You can read more on “Captain Slocum the Pioneer” , “First Voyage Round the World” and

“Pidgeon and the Islander” on this website.

Sailors alone around the world

A list of singlehanded trips around the world, list of sailors who completed a solo circumnavigation.

Welcome to this list of sailors who sailed around the world singlehanded. Please check the about page for more info about sources and methods. In the same page, you will find data description (metadata). The table below has more columns than what it seems. You can display/hide more by clicking on each row.

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Portrait / Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 1st sailor to complete a non-stop single-handed round-the-world voyage

round the world yachtsmen

Portrait of the first sailor to complete a non-stop single-handed round-the-world race - Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1969, at the age of 29.

Chloé Torterat

An engagement in the merchant navy that will give him his passion..

William Robert Patrick "Robin" Knox Johnston was born on March 17, 1939 in Putney, London. Eldest of four brothers, he is interested in walking, boxing and swimming but what he likes most of all is the holidays at his grandparents' house where he works on an Austin 7. He discovered his passion for the sea when he enlisted in the Merchant Navy in 1957 as a deck officer in British India until 1965. In 1962, he married his childhood friend Suzanne, who died in 2003 of ovarian cancer, who gave him a daughter Sara, born in Bombay in 1963. Today he is the happy grandfather of five grandchildren.

The first man to circumnavigate the world single-handed and non-stop

In 1968, Robin Knox Johnston was 29 years old and decided to embark on a solo circumnavigation of the world. He left Falmouth harbour on 14 June 1968 on board the Suhaili a 32-footer for the Golden Globe Challenge. In spite of an autopilot failure in Australia , she passed Cape Horn on January 17, 1969. Of the nine competitors, he was the only one to complete his round-the-world voyage after 313 days at sea and 30,123 miles covered. He won both prizes in the race and donated the 5,000 pounds to a fund set up to support the Crowhurst family (Donald Crowhurst, one of the competitors killed himself after trying to fake his circumnavigation of the world). So it was on 22 April 1969 that he joined Falmouth on board his ship, one of the smallest boats to have attempted the competition. He thus became the first man to complete a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe.

An ever-present passion for sailing

In 1970 and again in 1974, he won the Round Britain Race with Leslie Williams for the first date and Gerry Boxall for the second. In 1977, Robin Knox-Johnston and the Williams teamed up with Peter Blake for the Whitbread , aboard the maxi-yacht Condor. They won the stages led by Robin Knox-Johnston, the second and fourth.

In 1992, in a team with Peter Blake , he attempted for the second time a non-stop circumnavigation of the world, completed in less than 80 days and set a new record after 74 days, 22 hours and 18 minutes, and won the Jules Vernes Trophy (rewarding the fastest possible circumnavigation of the world under sail , crewed and non-stop) in 1994. Their first attempt ended in failure when their catamaran , Enza New Zealand hit a floating object.

In 1995, he founded Clipper Ventures Plc (to sail around the world with a loan boat and crew ) and in 1996 organised the first Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Today he is Chairman of Clipper Ventures Plc and is working on the development of the race.

In 2007, at the age of 68, he took part in the Velux 5 Oceans Race and completed his second single-handed round-the-world race aboard SAGA Insurance . He finished fourth on May 4, 2007. He is also the oldest competitor.

Today at the age of 75, he is about to take the start of the 10 e edition of the Route du Rhum on 2nd November, a race in which he will once again be the doyen of adventure .

round the world yachtsmen

Parallel activities related to the world of the sea

In parallel to these great races, Robin Knox-Johnston was President of the Sail Training Association from 1992 to 2001, an association for the development of sailing among young people. At the end of his term of office, he raised £11 million, enabling the replacement of the STA topsail schooners by two bricks. He was also Director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich from 1992 to 2002 and is still Director of the Cornwall National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, where Suhaili which was prepared to participate in the Round the Island Race in June 2005.

He was knighted in 1995 and was voted British yachtsman of the year three times.

round the world yachtsmen

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Yachting Monthly

  • Digital edition

Yachting Monthly cover

Tracy Edwards’ Maiden to compete in the new retro Whitbread Round the World Race

  • Katy Stickland
  • October 17, 2019

Tracy Edwards has announced that her 58ft Bruce Farr-designed Maiden will race in the Ocean Globe Race, the retro Whitbread Round the World Race

round the world yachtsmen

Tracy Edwards made history in 1989 as the skipper of the first all female crew to sail around the world in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Maiden won two legs and came second overall in her class. The best result for a British boat in the race since 1977.

Now Maiden could be racing the route again in the Ocean Globe Race (OGR), a retro Whitbread Round the World Race designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first event in 1973.

Organised by Don McIntyre, who was behind the 2018 Golden Globe Race , the 30,000 mile event is scheduled to start in Europe on 10 September 2023 and will have four legs taking in the Southern Ocean and the three great capes.

Stopovers will include South Africa, Australia or New Zealand and South America, before finishing back in Europe in April 2024.

Tracy Edwards skippering Maiden in the 1989-90 Whitbread

Maiden won two legs in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race

Skippers from France, Finland and the UK have already committed to take part in the event including Edwards.

She recently told organisers: ‘With so many yachts from previous Whitbread races being rescued and restored, as has Maiden of course, it seems only fitting that we should race them around the world again. COUNT US IN!’

Maiden is currently sailing around the world as part of work for the not-for-profit The Maiden Factor , promoting girls’ education and raising money to directly support a group of charities  already working in the field.

Tracy Edwards at the helm of Maiden

Tracy Edwards is currently focussed on The Maiden Factor, promoting girls’ education around the world, but will she be tempted to skipper in the race?. Credit: Tim Anderson

Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen , a finisher in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, has entered a Swan 55 in the Adventure Class for production yachts between 47 – 55.25ft.

He has just taken ownership of the Olin Stephens designed yawl Galiana , one of two Swan 55s now entered in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race , and will set out from Southampton UK bound for Finland at the weekend.

First launched in 1970, Galiana is the second of 16 yachts to be built by Nautor to this design, which Lehtinen describes  as ‘the classiest and most beautiful of the early Swans.’

Tapio Lehtinen arriving back in Les Sables d;Olonne

Tapio Lehtinen was the last to finish the GGR. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

British yachtsman Alan Macmillan shares that view. He has entered his cutter rigged Swan 55 Ariana and is about to embark on a round the world cruise in preparation for the 2023 OGR.

Lehtinen, who has also re-entered the 2022 Golden Globe Race, sailed in the 1981 Whitbread as watch leader aboard Skopbank of Finland , and is using his OGR programmer to ‘blood’ the next generation of Finnish ocean sailors now graduating through the youth racing classes by introducing them to the Southern Ocean and the global racing scene.

This he hopes will secure a continuation of the Finnish round the world sailing legacy, which dates back to the days of the Gustaf Erikson windjammers and the theme of the Ocean Globe clipper route.

Demand for places in the Sayula Class for prescribed yachts between 57.4 and 65.5ft is equally high with five owners earmarking Swan 65s – sisterships to Sayula II , the original 1973/4 Race winner.

One is French entrant Dominique Dubois, owner of the Multiplast Boatyard in Vannes, who previously owned a Swan 65, but sold it a few years ago to buy an ultralight boat to compete in last year’s Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race.

Continues below…

Ocean Globe Race

Ocean Globe Race: Retro Whitbread Round the World race announced

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‘Powerful and inspirational’ Maiden documentary

The story of Tracy Edwards’ Maiden campaign in the 1989-90 Whitbread round the world Race still astonishes 30 years on,…

round the world yachtsmen

Tracy Edwards’ ‘Maiden’ returning to UK

Round-the-world yachtswoman Tracy Edwards‘ famous yacht Maiden, which was found abandoned on an Indian Ocean island last year, is to…

Barnacles on the hull of Golden Globe Race entrant's Tapio Lehtinen boat

Golden Globe Race: Tapio Lehtinen’s barnacle blight

The last Golden Globe Race skipper Tapio Lehtinen has arrived back in Les Sables d'Olonne after 322 days alone at

He built all the Volvo 65’s, the giant record setting trimarans like Francis Joyon’s Idec Sport and Thomas Colville’s Sodebo , together with a series of race-winning IMOCA 60’s.

Commenting on the entry list, race chairman Don McIntyre said: ‘Many want to remain confidential at this stage but I can say we now have 12 confirmed entries representing Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA with the strongest enquires coming from Finland and France. There is also strong interest from the current owners of Sir Peter Blake’s 1981/2 Whitbread yacht Ceramco NZ and the French Whitbread winning yacht L’Esprit d’Equipe.’

Swan 55 Alan Macmillan

The UK’s Alan Macmillan promises strong competition from his cutter rigged Swan 55, Ariana

Sir Chay Blyth , who competed in two of the early Whitbread races onboard Great Britain II , and claimed nine of the 12 trophies on offer in the ’73 Race, has also endorsed the OGR.

‘Delighted to hear that a 50th Anniversary edition of the Whitbread is being launched. The Ocean Globe will be a great adventure as well as a great race for participants. What a great challenge they can set themselves. My congratulations to the organiser; it is such a bold and exciting move! he said.

Recent Rule Changes

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first fully crewed 1973 Whitbread Race and sailed in similar yachts with 1970’s equipment including sextants and cassette music tapes, the 2023 OGR gives ordinary sailors the opportunity to race around the Globe for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Entries are limited to approved production ocean racing yachts between 47 and 65.5ft designed prior to 1988. There are also 8 places available in a third Flyer Class for yachts that competed in the first three Whitbread races and other production ocean certified sail-training yachts. Tracy Edwards’ Maiden is eligible because the yacht first raced in the 1981/2 Whitbread as Disque D’or .

Together with the pre-1988 designed Nautor Swan range of yachts, the Nicholson 55, Grand Soleil 52, Oyster Lightwave 48 and Baltic 48 production yachts are also now type approved.

Some OGR entrants were challenged with the idea of removing extensive electronics, carbon spars or painting high visibility patches on beautiful teak decks as required under the pre-Notice of Race. Following extensive discussions, entrants no longer need to remove existing electronics, just disable them temporarily by removing control heads. High visibility cockpit dodgers will also substitute for the high vis. deck paint, and carbon spars fitted before July 1st 2019 are also approved.

Swan 55

Tapio Lehtinen has entered the yawl rigged Swan 55, Galiana in the race

The larger yachts and ex-Whitbread entries use Dyneema/Spectra runners and check stays for safety reasons, as well as halyards. All now approved. Spinnaker snuffers were shown to be available in 1973 and are now approved for safety reasons with amateur crew, even though they were not used in the original Whitbread Race.

Following six months of discussion with builders, surveyors and owners, it has also been shown that each keel is unique with regard to engineering integrity. While the final responsibility rests with the skipper, it is now agreed that the independent qualified surveyor responsible for inspecting an entry prior to the start of the OGR, will consider the yacht’s history and condition before determining if the keel needs to be removed for service.

The use of satellite communications equipment is severely restricted except for safety, and no live video streaming is allowed, but the scheduled once-a-week satellite phone call to race control, now includes delivery of one satellite photo from the yacht.

For the smallest Adventure Class for yachts down to 47ft, the minimum mixed gender crew required has been reduced to six.

All OGR outer garments must predominantly be of a colour that easily distinguishes with the wearer in the ocean.

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17 Jun 2024

Kickstart of DC’s Fleet Week as Clipper Race arrives in city

After a short, sharp and punchy 1,560nm race up from Panama, the eagerly anticipated Washington, DC stopover has finally begun. Race 12 arrivals day started with the Woodrow Wilson Memorial…

Sunny side up for Washington, DC’s homecoming

“Today we made history” were the words that greeted the Washington, DC team as it arrived at a sun-soaked The Wharf early this morning (17 June). As first light…

16 Jun 2024

Battle to the end for second place Zhuhai and third place UNICEF on Race 12

Securing its eighth podium place of the Clipper 2023-24 Race, it was Zhuhai who scooped up second on Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup. The team can now boast that more…

21 Jun 2023

Notice of Race: Clipper 2023-24 Race

CLIPPER 2023-24 RACE NOTICE OF RACE 1. Title of Race The Race will be known as the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race…

15 Jun 2024

View from the top! Qingdao secures first place in Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup

After seven days, and over 1,500nm of racing, Qingdao has crossed the Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup Finish Line in first place, taking home its second winners…

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27 Mar 2024

Our Isles and Oceans wins Race 9: Sailing City - Qingdao Cup

About UNICEF

round the world yachtsmen

ABOUT CONRAD

Conrad Humphreys is an experienced leader and motivational speaker who has spent over two decades leading teams in some of the most hostile places on the planet.  As a professional yachtsman, Conrad has raced three times around the world, has won the BT Global Challenge and became the fifth British sailor in history to complete the legendary Vendee Globe. More recently, Conrad was the professional skipper for Channel 4’s recreation of Captain Bligh’s 4000 mile open boat journey, Mutiny.

“As a business leader it is rare to hear about an experience which offers not only a wealth of learning and insight but manages to reach each listener in a uniquely personal way. Conrad is a joy and inspiration to listen to. It was a privilege to hear him speak.” BT

Conrad is a triple round the world yachtsman. He competed as the youngest entrant in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race (now Volvo Ocean Race ). As skipper, he led his team to victory in the BT Global Challenge by dominating the race and winning 4 out of 7 legs. Conrad became the fifth British yachtsman in history to complete the legendary Vendée Globe , single-handed, non-stop around the world without assistance despite major setbacks when his yacht’s rudder suffered significant damage when it collided with a floating object en route to the Southern Ocean.

Most recently Conrad was the professional skipper onboard the tiny 23ft open boat, Bounty’s End in the recreation of Captain Bligh’s epic story of survival , Mutiny on the Bounty for Channel 4. Using traditional navigation equipment and surviving off the same meagre rations as Bligh, nine men were cast adrift 35 miles to the south of Tofua near the Kingdom of Tonga in a replica boat. Their mission, to survive and safely navigate across 4000 miles of open ocean to Kupang, Timor and recreate one of the world’s greatest open boat voyages of British history.

Conrad is highly sought after motivational speaker and leadership coach. He was worked for some of the world’s leading companies and specialises in designing innovative leadership programmes for executive teams. His leadership story, Inspiring Leadership, Staying afloat in turbulent times has been published by Thomson Learning and is a ground-breaking book looking at the effective leadership lessons from the World’s Toughest Yacht Race.

pic

MUTINY, CHANNEL 4

In 1789, Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 loyal crew were cast adrift in a tiny 23ft open boat after the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty. They survived the ordeal and managed to reach Timor after a 4000 mile voyage across the South Pacific Ocean. It is regarded as one of the greatest survival stories in British maritime history.

In 2016, Conrad was the professional skipper for Channel 4’s recreation of the voyage along with TV star, Ant Middleton. Using traditional navigation equipment and surviving off the same meagre rations as Bligh, nine men were cast adrift 35 miles to the south of Tofua near the Kingdom of Tonga in a replica boat. Their mission, to survive and safely navigate across 4000 miles of open ocean to Kupang, Timor and recreate one of the world’s greatest open boat voyages of British history.

WRITING AND PRESENTING

Conrad writes for a number of sailing and outdoor magazines. His official story of the 2004-5 Vendee Globe was commissioned for BBC2 and he has presented a number of TV shows for BBC, Channel 4, Sky and History Hit.

round the world yachtsmen

pic

SPORT ENVIRONMENT

Conrad is the founder of Sport Environment, a sports marketing and event management consultancy that specialises in sailing and outdoor sports. Conrad advises clients in all areas of sports marketing, from sponsorship to employee engagement. He has worked extensively with brands, rights holders and some brilliant creatives. Conrad has an extensive marketing background and a passion for creating innovative, integrated campaigns for brands and rights holders.

THE BOUNTY PROJECT

Conrad Humphreys launched the Bounty Project in 2017 after recreating the incredible voyage of Captain William Bligh, who along with 18 men, survived the 4000 mile open boat journey after the Mutiny on the Bounty . Conrad acquired Bounty’s End, the boat that was featured in the Channel 4 series and launched the Bounty Project as a living-history programme for schools and the public to experience the magic of Bligh’s incredible voyage.

To book Conrad for a team building experience or a voyage onboard Bounty, please visit www.bountyproject.co.uk where you will find more details.

“Our ambition is to create a legacy from the Channel 4 series and inspire young people to take a leaf from Captain Bligh’s book and venture out into the world with confidence, resilience, courage and determination.”

Privacy Overview

Alex Alley

Multiple World Record Sailor and Inspirational Speaker

Experience Adventure

From Red Bull Soap Box to Sailing World Records

A Multiple World Record sailor, Alex has raced around the world at the highest level for many years. He is most recently back from spending an amazing 75 days alone at sea, covering over 14,500 nautical miles, non-stop from Northern France, through the heat of the tropics and the storms of the Southern Ocean to Australia. During this challenging trip he had to deal with broken auto pilots, the day-to-day running of a high performance yacht in challenging conditions, and making the very difficult decision to head to Australia after damage to the mast which meant he couldn’t continue on this record attempt. Whilst hugely disappointing, it was another immense adventure, bringing out the very best in the human spirit to cope when things aren’t going your way.

Alex Alley’s Sailing Adventures

ADVENTURE PSYCHOLOGY

Going knowingly into the unknown.

ALEX LATEST ADVENTURE

Follow Alex’s Latest adventure.

Now skippering a Super-yacht, running various expeditions and co-author of Boat to Boardroom and The 7 Racing Rules of Winning, he also speaks at conferences and events about his experiences, runs workshops on dealing with adversity and is an associate with Adventure Psychology, helping individuals and companies go knowingly into the unknown.

Please get in touch to explore how to begin your own adventures. Let's Connect

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British Round the World Yachtsman and co author of Boat to Boardroom, Alex Alley is also an Adventure Psychology practitioner. As well as having three sailing world records, in 2019 he sailed 14,500 miles and spent 75 days alone at sea whilst trying to break another world record, this time non-stop around the world.

© 2024 Alex Alley. All Rights Reserved.

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British yachtsman Simon Speirs, 60, dies in round-the-world race

Simon Speirs, 60, is the third Briton to die in the Clipper Round The World challenge in the last two years

By David Mercer, News Reporter

Sunday 19 November 2017 14:01, UK

Simon Speirs died competing in the Clipper Round The World yacht race. Pic: Clipper Race

A British sailor has died after being washed overboard during one of the world's toughest yacht races.

Simon Speirs, 60, was taking part in the year-long Clipper Round The World challenge as a crew member with team Great Britain.

The retired solicitor, from Bristol, was helping to change a sail when he fell into the Southern Ocean during rough conditions on Saturday, organisers said.

He is the third Briton to die competing in the event in the last two years.

Clipper Ventures, the firm behind the race, said Mr Speirs was clipped on to his team's 70ft long yacht with a safety tether but "became separated".

Simon Speirs (far right) with his Clipper Race team. Pic: Clipper Ventures

He was brought back on board by the boat's crew 36 minutes later and given CPR but never regained consciousness, the company said.

The cause of death has not been confirmed but he is believed to have drowned, it added.

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Clipper Ventures said an investigation will look at why the safety tether did not keep Mr Speirs on board.

The incident happened as teams raced from South Africa to Australia, with Mr Speirs' crew in sixth place.

Clipper Ventures described Mr Speirs as a "highly experienced sailor" who had joined the 40,000-mile Clipper Race on 20 August.

"Simon's next of kin have been informed and our deepest thoughts are with his family and all those who knew him," the firm said.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: We are extremely saddened today to report the fatality of Simon Speirs, a crew member on board CV30, (GREAT Britain). https://t.co/0nX2H71V5X pic.twitter.com/sfsH6s6EnM — The Clipper Race (@ClipperRace) November 18, 2017

Mr Speirs was given a sea burial at his family's request, with a service led by his skipper Andy Burns.

Organisers call the Clipper Race "one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other".

Previous sailing experience is not required to enter the race but each of the 12 competing yachts has a fully qualified skipper on board.

The year-long event costs £49,000 to enter and is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

London company director Sarah Young, 40, died during the race in 2016 after falling overboard while sailing from China to Seattle.

And in 2015, Andrew Ashman, 49, from Orpington in Kent, died after being hit by a rope while competing in the event.

SPORTS ALERT: San Francisco Giants and Negro Leagues legend Willie Mays has passed away at the age of 93.

ELECTION 2024: Results in Virginia are trickling in for several primary races. Stay with WTOP for live results throughout the night.

WTOP News

Round-the-world racing yachts dock at The Wharf in DC — see them up close

Neal Augenstein | [email protected]

June 17, 2024, 12:03 PM

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The more than 40,000 mile “Clipper Round the World Yacht Race” made an impressive arrival before docking at The Wharf in Southwest D.C. Monday morning.

Eleven clippers will remain there for a week before setting off on the final leg back across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hannah Brewis and a first mate are the only professional sailors on the yacht sponsored by Events DC, which was the first of 11 identical 70-foot racing yachts to dock at The Wharf on Monday morning.

“The rest of the crew is made up of total amateurs, with a wide difference, variety of sailing experience,” Brewis said, standing on the dock, shortly after the D.C. team was welcomed by several dozen early-morning supporters. “Some have never sailed, some have sailed a little bit.”

The trip began Sept. 3, 2023, in Portsmouth, U.K., where the race will finish.

“We’ve been to Spain. We’ve been to Uruguay, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, China, Seattle, Panama — that’s our route so far, and now, finally into Washington, D.C.,” Brewis said.

The race leg from Panama ended near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on Friday and Saturday. Monday morning’s travels to The Wharf was a short commute for the yachts, which also caused an approximately 15-minute delay for commuters in vehicles.

“We had to wait for it to be opened. The tricky part was we had to make sure the fleet was there at exactly 4:45 in the morning,” Brewis said. The Virginia Department of Transportation has warned commuters to expect a brief delay.

🚧Traffic Alert – #Alexandria : Woodrow Wilson Bridge (I-495/I-95) to open at approx 4:45 am today and tomorrow, Mon 6/17 & Tues 6/18, to allow passage of 11 yachts as part of Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race. Expect delays. #DMVTraffic More: https://t.co/Tq21o3rWry pic.twitter.com/eYu15PxIom — VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) June 17, 2024

“We got there with perfect timing. We all transited through, no stress. It was really great, it was really cool,” Brewis said.

The yachts will remain docked at The Wharf all week. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, “you can actually come onboard, and see what it’s like to be on one of these big ocean racing yachts,” Brewis said.

On Tuesday, the clippers will set off on the race’s final leg across the Atlantic, heading toward Portsmouth, U.K. The send-off will be open to the public and include fireworks.

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© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

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Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

  • @AugensteinWTOP

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Solo Ultim round the world race set for 2023

round the world yachtsmen

The first ever single-handed race around the world in the giant Ultim multihulls will take place in 2023, 15 years after the vision was originally conceived. The race will be organised by OC Sport Pen Duick in collaboration with the Class Ultim 32/23 as well as the skippers and owners of the world’s   most highly advanced and exciting ocean-going race boats.

An incredible test of both man and machine awaits the skippers, in a race which will no doubt create the greatest heroes of ocean racing. The coming together of these 32-metre giants promises an extraordinary sporting feat that will be shared with people around the globe, guided by strong core values of surpassing oneself, humility, commitment, perseverance, and ambition. The adventure, talent and shared emotions will place the event at the heart of sports conversation and mark a significant moment in the history of ocean sailing.

The long-awaited summit

The concept of a solo, round the world tour for these multihulls was first envisioned more than 15 years ago. However, the idea that these marvels of ocean sailing and innovation could chase the winds around the globe has taken time to come to fruition – and for good reason.   The balance between technical development, reliability, and an ambitious programme is extremely complex. And so, the first edition, to be held at the end of 2023, is the fruit of many years of work to establish such a revolutionary event.

“We are very happy to see this project come to life. Together, we will be able to prepare for this round the world trip and give this magnificent race, which is both very human and highly technological, the breath it deserves. Jean-Bernard Le Boucher, newly appointed General Manager of the Ultim 32/23 Class will have, among other missions, that of supporting this great and beautiful challenge,” said Patricia Brochard, President of the Ultim 32/23 Class.

“It is with great joy that we are pleased to announce the confirmation of this great project, the organisation of the single-handed round the world race in a multihull. Everything has come together after many years of reflection and joint work to make this event a sporting, media and public success,” commented Edouard Coudurier, Chairman of Groupe Télégramme and Roland Tresca, Chairman of Pen Duick and Deputy CEO of Groupe Télégramme, owner of OC Sport Pen Duick.

A common adventure

The creation of a race of this magnitude – which marks the start of an exciting new chapter in ocean sailing – has been made possible thanks to the joint efforts of the boat owners and their skippers, the Class and OC Sport Pen Duick’s expertise in event management.

“More than 40 years after the first edition of the Route du Rhum, the announcement of the Ultim round-the-world solo race is reflective of the pioneering character and know-how of OC Sport Pen Duick. We are delighted to be able to now start working with the boat owners on the implementation of this superb project which will undoubtedly be a milestone in the history of sailing,” stated Hervé Favre, President of OC Sport Pen Duick and organizer of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and The Transat CIC.

While the choice of the start and finish host city has not yet been decided, discussions are underway with the City of Brest, which has shown keen interest in hosting the event since the creation of the project.

The level of competition and the calibre of the skipper’s is set to be exceptional, with formal commitments already confirmed by:

Actual (skipper, Yves Le Blevec)

Banque Populaire (skipper, Armel Le Cléac’h)

Brest Ultim Sailing (TBC skipper)

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (skipper, Charles Caudrelier)

Sodebo (skipper, Thomas Coville)

SVR-Lazartigue,  a newcomer to the world of large trimarans (skipper, François Gabart) also supports this new project and its strong, unifying ambition.

Quotes from the Skippers / boat owners

Cyril Dardashti, Managing Director Gitana France:

“This race is part of the objectives we set for ourselves in 2017 by building – and then launching – the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the pioneer of this generation of flying giants. It took a little patience for the first edition to see the light of day, but today we can make this announcement! The arrival of the new maxi-trimarans was accompanied by a technological breakthrough and so it was important to allow time for this first event to live up to the magic of these boats. Beyond the incredible sporting performance that the sailors will accomplish on this inaugural round-the-world trip, it will be an extraordinary challenge to take up. We are delighted to be able to draw on the know-how of OC Sport Pen Duick as organiser for this great premiere.”

Charles Caudrelier, Skipper Maxi Edmond de Rothschild:

“This solo round-the-world race in the Ultim is a dream I didn’t even dare to hope for in my career. I have always been very drawn to the Vendée Globe, but here, at the helm of the fastest boats on the planet and in flying mode, it is quite simply the ultimate challenge. Leading such a boat alone on such a demanding global course is an extraordinary adventure that I am really proud to share with the Gitana Team and on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. I have been thinking about this world tour for 2 years, it is this goal that motivates me and keeps me moving forward every day.”

Thomas Coville, Skipper Sodebo Ultim 3:

“It is a privilege to be part of this group of sailors associated with exemplary partners. With Sodebo, we have been thinking about this race since 2007 when we launched the construction of the first Sodebo Ultime trimaran.

There were a lot of twists and turns in the creation of this race around the world. We had to be patient for the project to mature, which shows that we are all interdependent. On the day of the start, we will all be happy to have carried this idea.

This race justifies 20 years of commitment and high-level sailing. This is the race that will consecrate the life of an athlete and a sailor.”

Armel Le Cléac’h, Banque Populaire Skipper:

“I am delighted to see the Ultim’s programme structured around major sporting events that are very motivating, and which will also create superb sporting moments for all enthusiasts. Our boats are magical, and I am happy that we can share them with the public around great adventures. I can’t wait for it to start!”

Emmanuel Bachellerie, Managing Director and owner of Brest Ultim Sailing:

“These exceptional trimarans have deserved this solo race for a long time. They were thought out, designed, financed, built, and developed for it. Now that it is finally happening, the race will deliver its outcome after 40 to 50 days at sea – or more, or less… That is the magic of the sea and may it continue to remain so; that is to say, an exceptional adventure that we cannot predict.”

Samuel Tual, President Actual Leader Group:

“This round-the-world race is the culmination of our shared project with the Ultim Class. It will be an exceptional event. Exceptional for our skippers who will have to take up an unparalleled sporting and technical challenge aboard boats with performances like Formula 1. Exceptional also for all the public who will follow this race and the extraordinary adventure of talented sailors who are capable of extraordinary things. I am delighted that we have succeeded in creating this event which I hope will make ocean racing history.”

Yves Le Blévec, Skipper Actual Ultim 3:

“The confirmation of this single-handed round-the-world race for Ultim’s is very good news that we were all impatiently awaiting. Beyond the sporting challenge and the preparation that is required, I am proud to be able to be part of this with Actual Ultim 3, which promises to be very challenging. We are going to live an extraordinary adventure with exceptional sailors, on exceptional boats and with partners who have demonstrated the strength of their commitments.”

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Here's where to see the Round The Island Race this weekend

Thousands of sailors will flock to Cowes, hoping to make their mark when the Round The Island Race returns tomorrow (Saturday, June 15).

The annual 90-year-old spectacle, for amateur and professional yachtsmen and women, will see competitors follow a 50 nautical mile course, anti-clockwise, around the Island.

Teams will compete for one of over 100 trophies.

A mix of Olympians, professional race teams, amateurs and families will be out on the water, challenged to break the existing course records of 3h 43m 50s for a monohull boat and 2h 22m 23s for multihulls.

Scroll down to see the nine best places to watch the Round The Island Race from the Isle of Wight...

Photo by Paul Wyeth  

Here are the best places to watch the Round The Island Race from the Isle of Wight:

The race starts and finishes in Cowes.

Between 6am and 7:20am, off  Cowes , boats will begin the event in ten groups, at ten minute intervals.

Yachts will then head west towards Yarmouth and come into view from Sconce Point, at 7:30am to 10am .

They will cruise around The Needles between 8am and 11:30am , before passing Chilton Chine from 8:45am to 12am .

Yachts will head to St Catherine’s Point , where they will race past the lighthouse, between 9:30am and 1:30pm .

Those in Ventnor will get a great view from the La Falaise Car Park from 9:45am to 2pm .

Spectators will be able to see the yachts from Shore Road Car Park in Bonchurch and Culver Down between 10am and 3:30pm .

The best place to catch the end of the race will be at  Ryde Pier , where viewers can see competition near its end, between 11:30am and 4:30pm .

  • Read more: See the 2023 Round The Island Race in photos

What else is happening onshore on the Isle of Wight during the Round The Island Race?

Onshore, meanwhile, expect music and entertainment. The Parade in Cowes is free to enter, from 2pm, on Friday, July 14.

The shoreside race village will feature live music on stage, as Blonde Bombshell and Cornerstone headline Friday and Saturday respectively.

A food court featuring local Island vendors, such as Honey Donuts and Island Ice will also be available for spectators, competitors and supporters.

Spectators will also be able to follow the competition online from home through the event website’s ‘Race Viewer.’

What is the Round The Island Race?

The globally renowned Round the Island Race has named the RNLI as its official charity.

Donations raised will help train volunteer crews at stations at Cowes, Yarmouth and Bembridge, as well as in Hampshire and Dorset.

A drone view of The Round The Island Race, by Paul Wyeth. (Image: Paul Wyeth)

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54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

Helen Fretter

  • Helen Fretter
  • June 15, 2024

Extreme conditions severely depleted the fleet of the 2024 Round the Island Race, with hundreds of boats opting not to compete or retiring in 50-knot winds

round the world yachtsmen

Competitors in today’s 2024 Round the Island Race , an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded at The Needles, the westernmost point of the course.

The Round the Island Race traditionally attracts one of the largest fleets of any yacht race, and this year saw 939 boats originally entered.

However, today’s extreme conditions have severely depleted both the number of starters and finishers, and just 153 yachts completed the race with 418 retiring.

First to complete the course was Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling , which posted an impressive elapsed time of 3h 39m 5s.

round the world yachtsmen

The Gunboat 80 Highland Fling was first multihull in the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

Owner Irvine Laidlaw said: “It was the first event for us in 2024 and we’ve travelled over 3,000 miles from Palma to be here but it’s worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the race – I like the fact we go around an island with the start and finish in the same place, it’s rather satisfying.”

Boat captain Xavier Mecoy added: “[The] Boat is only a year old and it’s the first time we’ve sailed her in a big breeze, we’ve never had 2 reefs in the main before, so that was pretty exciting and we spent quite a bit of time sailing bare-headed as it was safer. 

“We were charging around the course doing 30 knots of boat speed at times.”

First monohull around was the Cowes based TP52 Notorious , owned by Peter Morton, who finished more than 40 minutes ahead of the nearest monohull yacht in 4h 21m 20s.

Notorious also finished 1st overall in IRC on correcrted time, winning the coveted Gold Roman Bowl.

Peter Morton, owner and skipper of Notorious, said: “I’ve not had the boat that long but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“It’s one of the most famous yacht races in the World and we went out to try and win. It’s 40 years ago since I won it on a little 25ft boat called Odd Job , so today was very special for me.”

round the world yachtsmen

Peter Morton’s TP52 Notorious took monohull line honours and 1st overall under IRC in the severe conditions of the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

54 knots at the Needles

Despite a deceptively sunny start as the first fleets set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 0600, conditions quickly deteriorated to become even more extreme than many forecasts had suggested. The Needles Battery wind station (above the famous rock formation) recorded gusts of 54 knots from 0700 and a steady wind of 39-45 knots from the south-west. Competitors reported 35-40 knots going through Hurst Narrows.

This led to a severe sea state on the south of the island which saw many boats which had started choosing to turn back before the Needles. Fewer than 100 boats in the IRC and ISCRS fleets (the majority of monohulls) were recorded as rounding the Needles. 

Many of those retiring have reported sail damage, particularly torn mainsails. There was a collision off Yarmouth, and at least one man overboard incident, which was recovered swiftly. However, organisers report that there were just nine other incidents – fewer than in previous years. Local RNLI and Independent Lifeboat crews were on the water across the Solent and on the south of the island supporting the fleet throughout the day.

David Rolfe, skipper of the Sigma 33 Shadowfax was one boat whose race ended by the Needles. Shadowfax  was welcoming her new part owners aboard for their very first race on the boat.

“We started with a reef and our Number 2 [jib],” explained Rolfe. “It was, I would say deceptively – not calm, but quieter than forecast. When we came off the line, and if anything, it then dropped a little bit. As we headed down the Solent we even had a little bit of a talk about how we might set the spinnaker lines for when we’re on the south side of the island.

“Then a weather band that came in, a whole load of rain squalls, and that just changed mode completely. Suddenly we were in full on, probably 30-odd knots, gusting high 30s. It was a bit on and off through those squalls, some heavy rain, maybe even a little bit of hail in amongst it.

“The sea state was a bit rough, but not crazy. And then as we got towards Hurst, it went up another level. We could see it coming down the track towards us, and a few boats were really on their ear. One boat was definitely 45 degrees or more over, out of control, just pushed on its side by the wind. So we were battened down and gearing up for that.

“Then we got pushed right on our ear. We’d trimmed the main out. We’re trying to control it, but we were right on our side and going slowly, and almost sideways! I don’t know the wind strength, probably gusting into the 40s. And the sea was getting bigger and rougher with wind over tide really driving it pretty hard. So we decided we needed to go for a second reef, put that in. And after putting that in [we] tacked off to go into the full [tidal] stream through Hurst.

“That’s when we saw, unfortunately, we’d ripped our main, probably as we were reefing it. That was the end of the race for us. We bore away and hurtled back, surfing down these waves on our way back to Cowes.”

round the world yachtsmen

The Needles recorded winds of 54 knots as the 2024 Round the Island Race fleet passed the landmark. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

2024 Round the Island fleets cancelled

The race typically attracts a large cohort of family and amateur crews, for many of whom this is the only race they may compete in all year. A building forecast over the preceding week had led many competitors to withdraw ahead of the race. 

The day before, organisers had also announced that eight classes would not start . Racing was cancelled for the Classic Racing Yacht (ISCRS), Diam 2 class, Gaffers under 23ft, J/70s, both divisions of Bridgedeck Multihulls, the smaller Grand Prix and MOCRA Multihulls, and the Sportsboat division.

Race safety officer Mark Southwell said on Friday 14 June, when making the announcement: “We will only cancel fleets where there is a significant chance that the majority of the fleet could get into difficulties and risk injury to the crew, a situation that could quickly overwhelm the support services. 

“For other fleets, with a wide range of crew experience and boat types, it is each skipper’s sole responsibility to evaluate the capability of their crew and the suitability of their boat to handle the expected conditions (including wind and sea state) and make the decision as to whether their boat should take part.”

Race Director, Dave Atkinson said in a statement from the organisers after the race: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the Race Team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.”

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and co-operation before and during the race on Saturday. Despite the challenging conditions we only had nine incidents connected to the race which is less than previous years, this shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision making that went into undertaking of the race.”

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Home  News  US SAILING OPENS NOMINATIONS FOR 2024 ROLEX YACHTSMAN AND YACHTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR  

US SAILING OPENS NOMINATIONS FOR 2024 ROLEX YACHTSMAN AND YACHTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR  

BRISTOL, R.I. (June 18, 2024) – US Sailing today announced that it has opened nominations for the 2024 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, widely acknowledged as the premier individual sailing honors in the nation.   

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and in partnership with Rolex since 1980, US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year award recognizes the individual male and female American sailors who have demonstrated on-the-water excellence at international and national events, bringing global recognition to sailing in the United States. Previous winners include world champions, offshore record holders, America’s Cup winners, and more.   

Beginning June 18 through December 18, US Sailing is seeking nominees who are United States citizens and have demonstrated on-the-water excellence at national and international events bringing global recognition to sailing in the United States in the calendar year.  

New this year, US Sailing is opening the nomination period in the spring, instead of the fall as in past years. This decision was made to enable a larger nomination pool and acknowledge the year-round participation of the sport.   

Following closure of the nomination period, US Sailing’s Yachtsman and Yachtswoman nominating committee, approved by the Board of Directors, will select three finalists for both the Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Award based on the merits of the nominees. The finalists will be posted to a ballot and presented to voting groups of past award winners and sailing media journalists who will vote for the winners. Winners will be announced in a ceremony in February 2025 at US Sailing’s Sailing Leadership Forum in Coronado, California. Details to be announced.    

To nominate for Yachtsman of the Year, click HERE  

To nominate for Yachtswoman of the Year, click HERE  

About US Sailing  

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), certified by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of sailing in the United States, is dedicated to leading, advancing, supporting, and ensuring integrity in sailing at every level.  Founded in 1897, US Sailing, now serving over 40,000 members as well as over 1,500 yacht clubs and sailing centers, offers training and certifications for sailors, instructors, and race officials, oversees national championships, manages offshore ratings, conducts regional and national events, and spearheads initiatives to increase accessibility.  US Sailing also leads the training and development of the US Sailing Team for the Olympic Games and high-performance international competitions, providing comprehensive financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing, and communications support, as well as managing the Team USA athlete selection procedures for the Olympic Games.  More at www.ussailing.org .  

A Natural and Supportive Partner  

Rolex has always associated with activities driven by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. It naturally gravitated towards the elite world of yachting six decades ago and today supports the most prestigious clubs, races and regattas. The brand is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events – from leading offshore races, such as the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, to grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. It also supports the exciting new SailGP global championship, where national teams race in supercharged F50 catamarans on some of the world’s most famous harbours. Rolex’s partnerships with the likes of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Royal Malta Yacht Club, New York Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron are the foundation of its enduring relationship with this dynamic sport.  

Copyright ©2018-2024 United States Sailing Association. All rights reserved. US Sailing is a 501(c)3 organization. Website designed & developed by Design Principles, Inc. -->

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COMMENTS

  1. Donald Crowhurst

    Donald Crowhurst. Donald Charles Alfred Crowhurst (1932 - July 1969) was a British businessman and amateur sailor who disappeared while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race held in 1968-69. Soon after starting the race his boat, the Teignmouth Electron, began taking on water.

  2. Donald Crowhurst: The fake sailing story behind The Mercy

    The challenge was turned into a contest by the Sunday Times which, in March 1968, announced two prizes: a Golden Globe trophy for the first person to sail round the world via the Three Capes ...

  3. Single-handed sailing

    The first single-handed round-the-world yacht race—and actually the first round-the-world yacht race in any format—was the Sunday ... going eastabout by way of the great capes, and is run every four years. The first edition was won by French yachtsman Philippe Jeantot, who won all four legs of the race with an overall elapsed time of just ...

  4. Gerbault and the Firecrest

    The cutter Firecrest, in which Alain Gerbault sailed round the world alone, taking some six years to accomplish an astounding feat of endurance and navigation. In his 39 ft boat, which was over thirty years old, the French navigator sailed more than 40,000 miles. His course was from east to west.

  5. Sailors alone around the world

    Welcome to this list of sailors who sailed around the world singlehanded. Please check the about page for more info about sources and methods. In the same page, you will find data description (metadata). The table below has more columns than what it seems. You can display/hide more by clicking on each row.

  6. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 1st sailor to complete a non-stop single

    The first man to circumnavigate the world single-handed and non-stop. In 1968, Robin Knox Johnston was 29 years old and decided to embark on a solo circumnavigation of the world. He left Falmouth harbour on 14 June 1968 on board the Suhaili a 32-footer for the Golden Globe Challenge. In spite of an autopilot failure in Australia, she passed ...

  7. Francis Chichester

    Sir Francis Chichester, whose 1966-67 global voyage was sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, its Woolmark featured on his baseball cap.. Sir Francis Charles Chichester KBE (17 September 1901 - 26 August 1972) was a British businessman, pioneering aviator and solo sailor.. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for becoming the first person to sail single-handed around the world ...

  8. Gavin Reid 'honoured' with nomination for prestigious YJA Yachtsman of

    Mission Performance round the world crew member Gavin Reid, 28, has been shortlisted alongside world leading sailors for the industry renowned 2016 boats.com YJA (Yachting Journalists' Association) Yachtsman of the Year Award, and Young Sailor of the Year Award.. Gavin, (pictured receiving the Henri Lloyd Seamanship Award at Race Finish with his team mates) who is nominated alongside 2016 ...

  9. Round the world race: 100ft trimarans set for solo race

    The fastest offshore racing designs ever built, the foiling 100ft Ultim trimarans, will go head-to-head in a solo round the world race in 2023. The Ultim class has announced the first single ...

  10. White Ocean Racing Home

    SINGLE-HANDED & NON-STOP AROUND THE WORLD. the "WRONG WAY!". Steve White will attempt to be the fastest yachtsman to sail non-stop and single-handed around the world the wrong way - Westabout - against the prevailing winds and currents in the Southern Ocean, which is one of the harshest and most remote environments on earth.

  11. Tracy Edwards' Maiden to compete in the new retro Whitbread Round the

    British yachtsman Alan Macmillan shares that view. He has entered his cutter rigged Swan 55 Ariana and is about to embark on a round the world cruise in preparation for the 2023 OGR.. Lehtinen, who has also re-entered the 2022 Golden Globe Race, sailed in the 1981 Whitbread as watch leader aboard Skopbank of Finland, and is using his OGR programmer to 'blood' the next generation of Finnish ...

  12. "Only 5 people have successfully sailed the wrong way round the world

    Hear some of Mike's incredible stories from his time as one of the top ocean racers competeing in 9 round the world races inluding the British Steel Challeng...

  13. Clipper Round The World Race

    In places where the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race site asks for login information (such as crew areas) cookies may store your login name and password on your hard drive to eliminate the need for you to enter this information every time it is needed. Clipper Ventures Plc also uses cookies to understand site usage and patterns.

  14. About

    As a professional yachtsman, Conrad has raced three times around the world, has won the BT Global Challenge and became the fifth British sailor in history to complete the legendary Vendee Globe. More recently, Conrad was the professional skipper for Channel 4's recreation of Captain Bligh's 4000 mile open boat journey, Mutiny.

  15. David Scott Cowper

    Born. 1942. Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Occupation. Chartered Building Surveyor. Known for. Yachtsman, circumnavigator. David Scott Cowper is a British yachtsman, and was the first man to sail solo round the world in both directions and was also the first to successfully sail around the world via the Northwest Passage single-handed .

  16. Finishing a solo circumnavigation: An extract from Solitaire Spirit by

    A few months later, no doubt to his complete confusion, he received the Yachtsman of the Year award. From Solitaire Spirit: Three times around the world single-handed Land's End was 1,030 miles ...

  17. Alex Alley

    British Round the World Yachtsman and co author of Boat to Boardroom, Alex Alley is also an Adventure Psychology practitioner. As well as having three sailing world records, in 2019 he sailed 14,500 miles and spent 75 days alone at sea whilst trying to break another world record, this time non-stop around the world.

  18. British yachtsman Simon Speirs, 60, dies in round-the-world race

    Pic: Clipper Race. A British sailor has died after being washed overboard during one of the world's toughest yacht races. Simon Speirs, 60, was taking part in the year-long Clipper Round The World ...

  19. Round-the-world racing yachts dock at The Wharf in DC

    The more-than-40,000-mile "Clipper Round the World Yacht Race" made an impressive arrival before docking at The Wharf in southwest D.C. Monday morning.

  20. Nigel Tetley

    Nigel Tetley (8 February 1924 - 2 February 1972) was a British sailor who was the first person to circumnavigate the world solo in a trimaran. The race A ... Donald Crowhurst had faked his round-the-world trip, sailing only in the Atlantic and radioing false position reports. Tetley was awarded a £1,000 consolation prize by the race organizers.

  21. Solo Ultim round the world race set for 2023

    July 8, 2021. Banque Populaire. The first ever single-handed race around the world in the giant Ultim multihulls will take place in 2023, 15 years after the vision was originally conceived. The race will be organised by OC Sport Pen Duick in collaboration with the Class Ultim 32/23 as well as the skippers and owners of the world's most highly ...

  22. Peter Blake (sailor)

    Sir Peter James Blake KBE (1 October 1948 - 5 December 2001) was a New Zealand yachtsman who won the 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Race, held the Jules Verne Trophy from 1994 to 1997 by setting the around the world sailing record as co-skipper of ENZA New Zealand, and led New Zealand to successive victories in the America's Cup.. Blake was shot and killed by pirates while monitoring ...

  23. Here's where to see the Round The Island Race this weekend

    Here are the best places to watch the Round The Island Race from the Isle of Wight: The race starts and finishes in Cowes. Between 6am and 7:20am, off Cowes , boats will begin the event in ten ...

  24. 54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

    Competitors in today's 2024 Round the Island Race, an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded ...

  25. Us Sailing Opens Nominations for 2024 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman

    This decision was made to enable a larger nomination pool and acknowledge the year-round participation of the sport. Following closure of the nomination period, US Sailing's Yachtsman and Yachtswoman nominating committee, approved by the Board of Directors, will select three finalists for both the Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Award ...

  26. Category:Single-handed circumnavigating sailors

    People who have sailed single-handed around the world. For convenience, all Single-handed circumnavigating sailors should be included in this category. This includes all sailors that can also be found in the subcategories. Subcategories. This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total. ...