Harken Derm

Testing Mother Earth and Father Time

Published on February 25th, 2019

The credibility of record seeking endeavors in sailing requires an independent entity that sets standards and is skilled at monitoring and ratifying the record attempts. In sailing that is the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

But the record attempt must be suitable for record keeping, and it has been deemed that age based records do not qualify. As a branch of World Sailing, the Council isn’t interested in endorsing age records, either youngest or oldest, as the imagination shouldn’t be tempted to exceed what a person’s age can fulfill.

However, none of this has stopped British yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates from seeking to become the oldest person to sail around the world single-handed, nonstop, and unassisted. In fact, she already makes the claim of 259 days between October 2012 and July 2013 after starting and finishing at Victoria, BC.

Now 76 years old (August 17, 1942), Socrates started her latest attempt in October 2018 from Victoria to improve on this time, and while she had hoped to be a lot faster this time around, she has had a lot of bad weather and gear problems to resolve on her passage, many well before reaching Cape Horn on December 19.

The ailments on her 38-footer include the failure of her wind instrument and later all instruments went down, solar panels stopped charging, the vang/kicker (boom support) connection to the mast fell apart after all its rivets failed, line-handling clutch broke, shackles went missing, reef line broke, genoa had to be retrieved from the sea after a furling line came loose in strong wind, etc.

The only issue she couldn’t overcome was the wind instrument failure, but now she has no use of her mainsail after a recent bad tear occurred which she has been unable to finish repairing (on deck) in the constant big swell of the Southern Ocean. She has the use now of her trysail (which works fine in strong winds), the genoa (big headsail) and small staysail.

She has passed the longitude of Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and anticipates passing Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, the third Great Cape of the Southern Ocean, in a month or more. Currently at 43.8° E latitude, she Socrates reaches the halfway point of her trip in the Indian Ocean at 55° E.

Follow her effort here: https://svnereida.com/

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