Thursday, April 8, 2010

Youth solo sailing circumnavigations

Recently the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) have discontinued their endorsement of the age records for youngest (and oldest) person to circumnavigate the world, solo, non-stop, and unassisted.

Robin Lee Graham (1949 - ) set out to sail around the world alone as a teenager in the summer of 1965. National Geographic Magazine carried the story, and he co-wrote a book detailing his journey titled Dove
published in 1972.
Graham was just sixteen when he set out alone from Southern California and headed west in his 24-foot sloop.
His voyage was also depicted in a film, The Dove (1974).
A followup book, Home Is The Sailor, was published in 1983.

On July 16, 2009, 17 year old Zac Sunderland (picture above), who cites Robin as an inspiration, became the youngest American sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation since Graham, and the first person to ever accomplish this feat in 13 months and 2 days before their 18'th birthday.

As of August 27th, 2009 the youngest person has been officially Mike Perham who grabbed the solo record after completing the 28,000-mile trip, crossing the finish line in Cornwall, in southern England. Perham is a 17-year-old British sailor who became the youngest person to sail around the world with assistance, completing the solo trip in nine months.

Abigail Sunderland a 16-year-old American girl has planned the same project.

But today, another 16-year-old young Australian girl (4 months older than Abigail) is steering her bright pink yacht to reach her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world.
Jessica Watson's plan to make a 23,600-mile (38,000-kilometer) journey through some of the world's most treacherous waters sparked a debate in Australia about whether someone so young should be allowed to try such a potentially dangerous feat.
Watson and her family insist she is an experienced and capable sailor who has studied navigation, electronics and maritime safety procedures.

But is thirteen too young to sail solo around the world?
Child protection agents in Holland have urged the courts to prevent 13-year-old Laura Dekker

True annual circumnavigators are a few breed that still need to plan their global voyages with many years in advance. To calculate how many circumnavigate the world in a year is a hard thing to do, since not all the attempts are announced, most are not prepare to last a few weeks but instead years that may turn into a whole decade of sea travel. There are families or couples who decide to cut their jobs, put their lives on hold for various years in order to immerse themselves into a world sailing adventure that will take several years, with no schedule and no fixed departing or arriving dates.
The first person to sail around the world alone was Joshua Slocum, an American "Blue Nose", from 1895 to 1898, three full years. The second man did it 25 years later; it was another American, Harry Pidgeon, from 1921 to 1925, four complete years of sailing.
Between 1973 and 1974, just four sailors went around the world alone (seven sailors did it in 1987, twelve in 1999, fourteen in 2004). The number of sailors attempting an annual circumnavigation are counted down to a dozen.

Here world around races are not contabilized because the sheer number of participants are competing, not planning a true and genuine round the world attempt.
Recently, one of the UK's most exciting young sailors has confirmed his entry into the oldest solo round the world yacht race – the 2010 Velux 5 Oceans.
Nineteen-year-old Oscar Mead will line up against some of the world's top sailors for the 30,000-mile Velux 5 Oceans race which starts in France in October. from pursuing her dream of becoming the youngest ever solo circumnavigator.