What is Around-in-Ten? Some who have heard about it may reply, ‘Around the Bend’! But without being prejudicial, it’s a race for 10’ sailing boats around the world. Having regained our breath after taking in the enormity of the task before the intrepid skippers, let’s soberly look at the prospect of circumnavigating the globe in such small vessels via the Panama Canal west going from the Bahamas, a distance of approximately 27,000 miles. The scheduled start will be in January 2009 - that’s just over a year and two months remaining before these micro-yachts cross the start line. Participants will have built and fully tested their yachts before arriving at the Bahamas. They will have equipped their vessels with essential gear and put aboard provisions of food and water and everything necessary for their complete self-sufficiency while crossing oceans up to distances of perhaps 4000 miles.
The origins and spirit for this race go back to the remarkable achievement of Serge Testa, who in 1987 completed a circumnavigation in his 11’ 10” aluminium yacht ‘Acrohc Australis’; in so doing he became the record-holder for having sailed the smallest boat around the world. He arrived back in Brisbane after a gruelling three years of being tossed to and fro while crossing the oceans of the world. During this epic voyaging he suffered many setbacks, including a fire onboard from which he and his boat narrowly escaped oblivion; sleep deprivation, salt water boils, groundings, a hurricane and always continuous movement while cooped up in a space providing barely enough room for him to lie down for respite.
Given this knowledge, why would four people to date commit themselves to such a tortuous undertaking and no doubt others will volunteer for the same venture? Because it will be a ‘venture’ with the outcome unknown – possibly fame and a book recording their achievement, bringing to them a million dollar fortune, or at the other extreme, death and critics saying, “I told you so!”
If we take a sober look at the logistics, it took Serge 500 days of voyaging over a period of three years (1095 days) to achieve his record. The racers will be sailing smaller and slower boats, but like their hero they will have to dodge hurricanes and use the prevailing winds and ocean currents equally well. Unlike him they will be competing in a race for the world record which may spur them on for even more super-human efforts. Only the fittest, most well prepared and the most determined will win.
I don’t doubt the smallest boat circumnavigation record can be beaten and I believe it will be done, if not by one of the venturesome Around-in-Ten sailors, it will eventually be broken by one who will deserve the honour and the accolade he or she will receive.
(Around-in-Ten web site: http://www.aroundinten.com/ )