New round-the-world sailing speed record set

A new round-the-world sailing speed record has been set!A 130-foot trimaran yacht, with a crew of 14, set a new speed record for sailing around the globe last Friday when it returned to port in Brest, France. The ship, which is named the Maxi Banque Populaire V, shaved nearly three days off the previous record, and earned the crew the coveted Jules Verne Trophy in the process.

The ship, which featured a mostly French crew, set sail on November 22nd of last year and managed to circumnavigate the globe in just 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes, and 53 seconds. That beats the previous record, set in 2010, by more than 2 days, 18 hours. While out on the water, the speedy yacht logged more than 29,000 miles and had an average speed of 26.5 knots.

By setting the new round-the-world mark, the ship and her crew now hold the Jules Verne Trophy. Named for the famous author, whose seminal work of travel-fiction Around the World in 80 Days has inspired many adventures, the cup is awarded to the yacht that holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the planet. It was first given out back in 1993, when the record set at the time was 79 days, 6 hours. Less than 20 years later, we’ve now managed to cut that time almost in half. It seems only a matter of time before someone manages to sail around the globe in less than 40 days.

Teen sailor Laura Dekker completes first leg of solo circumnavigation

Laura Dekker completes solo crossing of the Atlantic OceanDutch teenager Laura Dekker completed the first leg of her attempt to sail into the record books a few days back when she completed a solo sail across the Atlantic, reaching the island of St. Maarten in the process. The 15 year old is attempting to set a new record for the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Dekker has been hoping to make this voyage since she was 13, but her departure was delayed on more than one occasion by the Dutch government. Earlier this year they relented however, and granted her permission to sail after she demonstrated her skills and made a commitment to keeping up with her education.

The voyage officially began back in August when she sailed from the Netherlands to Gibraltar before proceeding on to the Canary Islands. Laura then spent two months there getting her 38-foot yacht, affectionately named Guppy, ready for the journey ahead. She also used that time to wait out the hurricane season before beginning her crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

On December 2 she left the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, en route to the Caribbean. It took her 17 days to cover the 2200 nautical miles, arriving in St. Maarten this past Sunday. Dekker described the voyage as “a very nice trip.”

She’ll now spend some time in the Caribbean, sailing the islands and exploring the region before moving on to her next big leg. She says she doesn’t have any set plan at the moment, but hopes to cross through the Panama Canal, and on to the Pacific, in April or May.

Ah, the idle days of youth. Sailing the high seas, exploring tropical paradises, and seeing the world. My teen age years were much like this. And by much like this, I mean not at all.

[Photo credit: AP]

14-year old granted permission to sail solo around the world

14-year old Laura Dekker has waited months for her opportunity to attempt a solo circumnavigation of the globe, and after being denied on several occasions by Dutch authorities, yesterday she finally received permission to set sail at long last. She now plans to begin the voyage, which could take upwards of two years to complete, sometime in the next couple of weeks. The teen hopes to set a new record for the youngest person to sail around the globe alone.

Laura first received attention last year when it was announced that she hoped to make the solo circumnavigation attempt at the age of 13. Before she could set out however, a Dutch court intervened, barring her from sailing. Since that time, she has been under the supervision of child protective services, who have continually recommended against allowing her to sail. That recommendation changed recently however, as the young woman trained to improve her sailing and survival skills, and joined a distance learning program that would allow her to continue her studies while she is at sea. Even Laura’s mom, who had been against the voyage, had changed her tune, now granting the 14-year old her blessing to sail.

The voyage that Laura has planned differs quite a bit from the one that was taken by Jessica Watson, the 17-year old girl who recently set the new “youngest” record and Abby Sunderland, who had to be rescued from the Indian Ocean back in June. Those two sailors faced the perilous waters of Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, but Laura will instead take a route that passes through the Panama and Suez Canals. While this lowers the risks involved with her having to deal with some of the worst seas in the world, it does increase the amount of ship traffic she’ll encounter, which means she runs the risk of colliding with another ship in those busy sea lanes.

Perhaps more importantly, Laura will have a support ship that will be following her closely and will be on hand in case the need arises. This ship will be there in the event of trouble, but will not aid her in any way as she navigates the oceans. With this plan in place, she’ll have a safety net to help protect her, but one that won’t endanger the “solo” status of her voyage.

Over the next two weeks the teenager will be working hard to prepare her ship, the Guppy, for the voyage. Once it is stocked with all the gear and supplies that she’ll need, she’ll be on her way, and off on a grand adventure on the high seas. What were you doing when you were 14?

[Photo credit: Associated Press]

Travel chops: Sailing solo when paralyzed

Sailing solo around Britain would be quite the feat for most of us, I suspect. Sailing solo when you can’t move your body certainly turns it up a notch–or a hundred.

Hilary Lister from Dunkirk, Kent in Great Britain is not letting the trifles of her life stop her. She’s been paralyzed from the neck down for seven years, but has kept setting sail by blowing into a device that controls the sail and the tiller. Her method has taken her already around the Isle of Wight and across the English Channel. She is the first quadriplegic female to ever do these trips.

According to this BBC News story, Lister’s journey around Britain will not happen in a non-stop endeavor, but will be broken into segments, and the segments broken into parts. That seems sensible. She must have a powerful set of lungs. She also has land-based crew that can offer support as needed. Her determination is astounding, but so is the support she must get from family and friends who know how important it is for people to reach their dreams no matter what the dreams are and what obstacles can get in the way.

Several years ago, when I stayed with a lovely family in Vinita, Oklahoma, there was one family member who had been paralyzed from the neck down in a horseback riding accident. He was able to do all sorts of things using just his breath because of the way gadgets had been built to help him do so. His family also made sure that he determined what he wanted to do and left him to his own devices.

We cooked dinner one night, although, he really was the brains behind the endeavor. All I did was do what he said. Dinner was delicious, and honestly, I had little to do with it. If Hilary Lister has half the determination he did, she’ll make it around Great Britain for sure.

As for me, maybe I’ll call up the friend I know who has a sail boat to see if we can take it on a spin on the Scioto River. She knows what to do and instructs me. Suddenly, I have the urge.