In the past year, two of the four records that I had on my list have been challenged and perhaps broken. The first of these is the oldest person for a non-stop and non-assisted circumnavigation. It was 56-year-old Dodge Morgan, but now it’s Jean Socrates, a UK citizen and resident of Canada, who after 25,000 miles and 259 days at sea, at the age of 70, has become the oldest person to sail solo around the world non-stop. She sold her home to take up the challenge after the death of her husband, with whom she had learned to sail. Her first two attempts were thwarted by engine trouble and boat damage, one ending just 80 miles from the finish when she ran aground! But her third effort – which began last October in Victoria, Canada – ended with success last week, when she arrived back where she started. I of course, at 76, shall be older.
And then the speed record was possibly broken in what could be called a cruising boat when Guo Chan, a Chinese citizen, completed the voyage in 137 days breaking the 150 day record of Dodge Morgan earlier this summer. There is some question with this record, as he sailed from China and back and, like Jean Socrates, did not do the traditional passing under all five capes, but that should not matter. None the less, I intend to do it in 120 days or less, so…game on!
The season is now over and the Southern Hemisphere winter has begun, so this sensible skipper will not make an attempt until later this year. When I leave on November 30th, I will encounter the southern summer, because I will be there in January and February. There are exceptions, however. Three years ago, young Abby Sunderland, endeavoring to be the youngest to sail, attempted during the winter season. With broken mast and spirits, she abandoned her boat in the Indian Ocean. The boat named Wild Eyes was built originally for my son Alan, who had it named BTC Velocity after a sponsor, and in which he successfully completed a five-stop, solo circumnavigation. It’s in our blood!