Steve White Seeks to Set ‘Wrong Way’ Record
Published on June 18th, 2015
This is the realisation of a 15 year dream for Steve, who has planned and worked towards this, the toughest record in sailing, since long before his successful 8th place Vendee Globe in 2008/9.
The Westabout route means that Steve will sail against the prevailing winds and currents through the Southern Ocean, the wildest and most remote waters on the planet. Steve will be on standby for a suitable weather window to start from October 2016.
Only five people have held the record since it was originally set by Sir Chay Blyth in 1970/71. The current record holder is Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who in March 2004 set the time of 122d 14h 3m 49s.
“Hundreds have completed the voyage following the classic Eastabout route.” Sir Chay Blyth said, “but doing this in reverse is a quantum leap removed, which is why only five people including Mike Golding and Dee Caffari have tried it. It takes a special character to tackle the trip and Steve is an extremely experienced yachtsman who I believe has the right skills, tenacity and determination to set a new World record.”
Steve will be sailing the ex-Telefonica Black Volvo Open 70, built for the 2008/9 Volvo Ocean Race. Purchased from the original owners in Spain earlier this year, it will be converted into “solo configuration”, as at present it still needs a crew of 10 to sail it. The boat will have autopilts fitted, shelter on deck, furling headsails, and considerable structural re-enforcement to cope with slamming upwind for two months in the Southern Ocean.
Traditionally, sailors starting a circumnavigation in races like the Vendee Globe go down the North and South Atlantic and turn left, to the East, and under the Cape of Good Hope, then Cape Leuwin, and finally the infamous Cape Horn, before turning North back up the Atlantic to Europe. Steve will go “Westabout, so to Cape Horn and turn right, against the prevailing winds, relentless waves and currents of the Southern Ocean that normally drive East going racers back home – an “upwind” lap of Antarctica. The start and finish line is between The Lizard in Cornwall, and the Ushant Lighthouse off Brittany.
Record History of Around the World Westabout
“British Steel”, Sir Chay Blyth (GBR) Aug 71 292 days
“Group 4”, Mike Golding (GBR) Jun 94 161d 16h 35m 42s
“Uunet”, Philippe Monet (FRA) Jan 00 151d 19h 54m 36s
“Adrien”, J.L Van Den Heede (FRA) Mar 04 122d 14h 3m 49s
“Aviva”, Dee Caffari (GBR) May 06 178d 3h 5m 34s (women record)