Harken Derm

The Record Breaking Waiting Game

Published on December 10th, 2018

With the help of crowdfunding, Alex Alley is aiming to break the Solo Non-Stop Around the World Record in his 40′ yacht – Pixel Flyer. His goal is to better the 2013 record set by Guo Chuan of 137d 20h 01m 57s.

But before he crosses the English Channel start line between the Créac’h lighthouse on the island of Ushant and the Lizard lighthouse in Cornwall, he is looking for an ideal weather system to improve the odds. In this report, Alex shares the waiting game:


Having been waiting now for over six weeks both Nick, my weather router, and I were starting to question our decision to wait for a suitable weather window. However, that decision was vindicated by news that the multi-million pound Spindrift 2 campaign is also waiting in France for the right weather.

This boat is a big budget 131-foot trimaran aiming to break a different around the world record. They have also been waiting since the beginning of November, and with their highly paid weather routing experts, they have reached the same decision as us – to wait it out until the boat breaking weather has settled down.

At this rate I will still be waiting into the New Year, though it’s not the end of the world. The main decision as to when we leave is dictated by our timing through the Southern Ocean. We have to be there during their summer, which means we can in theory delay until the end of January. The deadline for is we need to pass Cape Horn by the end of April before things begin to get too dangerous again as autumn arrives.

Of course, I would rather get going sooner as we are all set to go and the waiting is incredibly frustrating. We have dated kit on the boat such as food and medical supplies. We also have the life-raft and survival suit on loan from Ocean Safety and they will want them back.

Waiting till next year is not really an option as we cannot afford to keep the boat that long and then replace all the out of date equipment – the crowd funding pot has run pretty much dry now, so we do need to go soon.

Other news from the Golden Globe Race, with the recent rescue of Susie Goodall, there are now three boats abandoned that I need to avoid. Susie’s boat was a 36′ Rustler, more suited to cruising around the Coasts than racing through the southern latitudes. Hopefully on Pixel Flyer we can avoid the worse of the weather systems with our greater speed and ability to receive much more information on the weather around us, both on the boat and via Nick routing me.

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