It seems that solo sailing is literally taking off with two very recent successful solo non-stop circumnavigations. The first Indian to solo is now Abhilash Torry, 45, completing the route in 159 days. The next day Chinese citizen, Goo Chuan, 47, completed the voyage in 137 days, 20 hours, 1 minute and 57 seconds to take the record for the fastest in a cruising boat. The previous record stood at 150 days and 6 hours held by Dodge Morgan, 54, an American sailor. Dodge is still the oldest but now it seems that if I, at age 75, want the fastest record I will have to beat 137 days.
Clearly each sailor is taking a different route. The rules state that the sail must start and end in the same place, and must also be from or go around, an island in the northern hemisphere. The accepted route according to Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, the first person to successfully solo circumnavigate in 1969, is via the three great capes and not through the Panama or Suez Canals. The capes are Cape of Good Hope, South Africa; Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia; and Cape Horn, South America.
Solo sailing is dominated by the French but with the recent successes the field is wide open and the interest increasing. According to Sir Robin, successful solos, with or without stops, now number over 200. However non-stops are half that and most are professional sailors racing in major events. Of the unsponsored amateurs only 21 who have succeeded, and I fall into that group. More than half of those who attempt a solo sail fail to complete the entire route.
By comparison, more than 600 have been launched into space and when I swam the English Channel, I was exactly the 300th person to attempt and that number is now over 1,500. Also some 3,100 have attempted to climb Mount Everest and tragically 220 have lost their lives on the mountain.
The "season" has now ended and it is unwise to go into the southern oceans in their winter. My leaving at the beginning of the next season, late November of this year, will place me in those stormy waters during the mid Antarctic summer where the daylight is prolonged and the temperature at it’s warmest. With six months to go my training is picking up. I like to say that at this point both I and the boat are 80% ready. So now I have to go a little faster than might otherwise have been the case. I plan to be ready.