Vendee Globe with 500,000 School Kids
Published on October 5th, 2016
Marblehead, MA (October 5, 2016) – When US sailor Rich Wilson sets sail in the Vendée Globe non-stop single-handed around the world race in November, he might be alone on the boat, but more than 500,000 school kids will be tracking his progress.
The hardest and most famous sailing race in the world, the Vendée Globe involves sailing 28,000 miles around the world alone. It sets sail and finishes in Les Sables d’Olonne in Brittany, France after rounding the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Southern Australia and the infamous Cape Horn at the tip of South America.
An experienced sailor, Wilson has won the Newport to Bermuda race and holds three world sailing records. Yet when he first learned about the Vendée Globe race, which is sailed in 60 foot IMOCA class boats, his initial reaction was “ too hard, too long and too dangerous.”
But eight years ago Wilson was one of 30 skippers to compete in the race. He sailed 28,790 miles in 121 days in his monohull Great American III. He endured broken ribs, a facial gash and compressed vertebrae, and came in 9th of the only eleven skippers who finished the race.
Wilson’s motivation to participate in the race is to engage and educate students around the world, with some 500,000 students and schools in 45 countries participating in his educational program. With degrees from Harvard, MIT and Harvard Business School, Wilson was a math teacher in the Boston school system when he realized that kids really paid attention when he confronted them with real world experiences.
“Excite a kid with bats, bugs, and snakes in the rain forest, or with gales, flying fish, and dolphins at sea, and they will pay attention not knowing what will happen next,” Wilson said. “Then the science, geography, and math flow freely.”
Wilson was recently feted at a send off party in his hometown of Marblehead, MA attended by local and state officials and fellow sailors. He received a Citation from local Congressman Seth Moulton and a letter from State Senator Tom McGee, who thanked Wilson for providing children round the world with an inspirational adventure and for representing the proud maritime town of Marblehead as the only American in the race.
When the race starts on November 6, Wilson’s daily progress can be followed on his website. There will be a daily ship’s log and audio podcast, photos and videos from the boat and an interactive global forum as well as specific content for teachers.