The urge to be the first

Saw some exciting news today.

Just read that Peter Lawless is going to be sailing his Rival 41 around the world single handed, unassisted and non stop. He has a website and a YouTube channel. His aim is to be the first Irish man to achieve that combination.

It is nice to see such confidence in the next size up boat in the Rival range 😁 While we know several Rival 38s have circumnavigated, I’m pretty confident none have done so non stop, and probably not routing south of all 5 major capes.

If you haven’t looked at sailing routes in detail it might surprise you that there is a fundamental difference in the routes between those sailing around the world fast and cruising.

Typically fast circumnavigations are Eastwards (so from Europe via Africa, Australia, Americas to Europe) and they go a long way south to keep the distance down (typically circling Antarctica as close as possible). This is the route of the Vendee Globe, the Jules Verne trophy etc. It goes under 5 major capes: Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), Cape Leeuwin (Australia), South East Cape (Tasmania), South Cape (New Zealand), Cape Horn (Chile) There are normally a series of low pressure systems circling the globe above Antarctica so Eastwards is faster downwind sailing.

For cruisers that Southern Ocean is unattractive, if the objective is to enjoy visiting places then a route to the most remote parts of the oceans where storms are normal and it is very cold is unattractive. Cape Horn is particularly feared as there is a pinch point between it and Antarctica where winds and seas rush through. So the majority route Westwards using the Panama Canal to avoid Cape Horn. Then you can cross the Pacific via some of the beautiful island groups in warmer weather with downwind sailing to Australia. If piracy wasn’t an issue many would return to Europe via the Red Sea, Suez Canal and Mediterranean thus avoiding the more challenging Cape of Good Hope.

So there is this huge difference right from the beginning depending on whether you want to go around non stop (or just a few stops) or whether you want to see more places, go slower and take fewer risks.

We are definitely in the cruising camp (and with a grp boat relying on solar energy we won’t be going to far North or South into the Arctic or Antarctic). But it made me wonder if we have any urges or expectations to be first at anything. We certainly are not considering single handed firsts, nor a non stop circumnavigation, nor do we aim to be unassisted.

On the other hand wherever we go we will be the first Jane and Dave to sail a Rival 38 Centre Cockpit Ketch there 😂

Is that enough?

For us it definitely is. We love watching and supporting others doing amazing things (like the Vendee Globe) but that isn’t us.

Instead, our goals are clearly much more about the means (ie Sustainable) rather than specific firsts. To travel well (by our definitions) rather than to set records.

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