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Sailing - Solo Races

Ask a mountaineer why he climbs Mount Everest. He will probably tell you because it is there. With a little probing, he will likely give you this answer. He loves the challenge and the adventure into the unknowns. Of course, he does not go in clueless. He trains hard and garners the right equipment to help him climb to the top of the mountain.

So it is the same with these sailors. The very idea to circum-navigate the globe is an irresistible challenge. The obstacles are numerous. The elements of nature can be unforgivable and deadly. The storms are known to generate waves as high as five meters that can render the boat completely helpless. It has been known many sailors had perished when hit by such storms.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is widely acknowledged as the pioneer in non-stop solo racing. He took 313 days to complete the journey on board his boat, Suhaili in 1968-69 over a distance of 48,000 km. He sailed out of Falmouth, England and back to Falmouth via New Zealand. Then he sailed with the most basic equipment and a boat which today only deserve a place in the museum. He faced spells of acute loneliness on his boat. In the storms, he was also inflicted with injuries from skin tears and broken fingernails. Though injured and energy sapped due to physical exhaustion, he had to maintain a cool head to deal with the situation and continue with the race. It was a life changing experience for him. He won the race for the coveted Golden Globe trophy and more pertinently, a place in history.

In the same race, the sailor Bernard Moitessier found his inner calling and headed for the Pacific Islands instead of finishing the race. He is quoted in saying I am continuing non-stop towards the Pacific Islands because I am happy at sea and perhaps also able to save my soul.

Even today, Sir Robin is still very much involved in the keelboat sailing fraternity. He is key in getting the Clipper race running for the past 10 years. The recently completed Clipper 05-06 attracted ten entries. The only Asian entry comes from Singapore aptly named Uniquely Singapore.

There are other solo races like the Route du Rhum and the Vendee Globe.

Some prefer the unconventional. Normally boats are sailed from the west to the east of the world. There are sailors who got themselves into the record book by sailing against the trade winds and ocean currents i.e. from east to the west. Chay Blyth, having dropped out of the Golden Globe, took the challenge to sail non-stop around the world the wrong way.

One female sailor deserved a special mention here. She is Ellen MacArthur. On 8 February 2005 Ellen MacAuthur made history by becoming the fastest person who single-handedly sail non-stop around the world. The 28 year old completed the 42,000 km voyage in 71days 14hrs 18min 33secs on board the boat, namely - B&Q. The Maxi Trimaran is a 60 feet monohull boat. She set sail on 28 November 2004.

I had enjoyed sailing very much that I had started a blog to share my experience. Here is the link to know more about Singapore sailing news, http://www.singaporesailing.com

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