Only Three Americans Have Done It

Published on April 17th, 2017

by Vicki Staveacre
What do Rich Wilson, Bruce Schwab and David (Dodge) Morgan have in common? According to Wikipedia – and of course open to challenge – these are the names of the only three American sailors who have completed solo, unassisted and non-stop circumnavigations of the globe.

When Marblehead sailor Rich Wilson completed his second Vendee Globe solo round the world race in February with a time of 107 days, 48 minutes and 18 seconds, he bettered the previous fastest American time set by Bruce Schwab in the 2004-05 Vendee Globe race of 109:19:58:57.

The first was David (Dodge) Morgan, a US fighter pilot and journalist for the Anchorage Daily News. In 1985, at the age of 53, Morgan left Ordnance Island in Bermuda on a 60 foot boat named American Promise. Morgan returned on April 11, 1986 after 150 days, 1 hour and 6 minutes at sea.

Only Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is listed ahead of Morgan by the World Sailing Record Council when the Brit completed the eastbound route in 1969 … in 313 days.

Wilson left Le Sables d’Olonne in France on November 6, 2016. At 66 he was the oldest of the 29 skippers who started the 27,440 mile race. He arrived back on 21 February, 2017 and secured 13th place of the 18 participants who finished.

Wilson is not new to being a pace setter. In 1993 he established a new world record of 69 days on the clipper route from San Francisco to Boston. In 2001 he and Bill Biewenga set the world record for sailing from New York to Melbourne of 68 days and in 2003 he set a new world record from Hong Kong to New York of 72 days.

In 1989 American sailor Mike Plant also competed in the first Vendee Globe race on Duracell, an Open 60 sloop which he built. But Plant was eliminated from the race after receiving help to stop the boat from running aground in New Zealand. He went on around with the world in a time of 135 days.

So only three Americans have cleanly done it…. who will be next?

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