American Solo Sailor May Change a Culture

Published on June 1st, 2014

by Chris Museler, NY Times
At 3 a.m. Wednesday, Ryan Breymaier had been prone on a two-inch foam pad for barely 30 minutes when the call came for him to get up. He was delivering the 60-foot racing sailboat Hugo Boss from Newport, R.I., to Manhattan as training for the Imoca Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona race, in which he and Pepe Ribes of Spain will sail across the Atlantic against four other teams starting Sunday.

Breymaier, a tall American with a mop of blond curls, winced as he sat up, keeping his head low to avoid the raw carbon fiber ceiling only inches above.

“You’re going to have to get someone else on the grinders,” he calmly transmitted above the banging of waves against the hull, referring to the shore crew that came along to help test equipment. “I don’t know what I did to my back.”

The injury probably came from a combination of events, physical and emotional, that began when Breymaier and Ribes, with two other sailors, delivered their Imoca 60 boat from England last month. Halfway across the Atlantic, their mast broke, and they limped into Newport, where they began a weeklong push to rebuild the mast and get the boat to the starting line off North Cove Marina in Midtown Manhattan in time for Sunday’s start.

Setbacks like these are part of life for a short-handed sailor, especially one who races ultrafast sailboats across oceans with a crew of just one or two. But for Breymaier, who was chosen to sail with Ribes only two months ago when the skipper Alex Thomson decided to stay home with his pregnant wife, his frustration was evident. For him, there’s a lot more riding on this race.

Considered the top American short-handed sailor, Breymaier has been desperately seeking sponsorship since 2010 for a Vendée Globe campaign. The event, in which solo sailors race nonstop around the world every four years, has been dominated by French sailors and will next be run in 2016.

“For a Frenchman, solo sailing is a massive sport where a million spectators will come out to watch the Vendée Globe,” said Keith Mills, the creator of the inaugural Ocean Masters Series, which combines all the major short-handed events in the Imoca class. “That’s not the case in other countries. The profile for a U.S. skipper is very low. That’s the reason for the New York to Barcelona, to bring in more international sailors.” – Read on

Background: The 3720 mile IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race is a new doublehanded race for the Open 60 class, with the start from New York on June 1, and the expected finish for the five teams into Barcelona, Spain at around June 12-15. Race website:

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