Donald Lawson: Solo and nonstop
Published on October 20th, 2022
Captain Donald Lawson, who acquired an ORMA trimaran in April 2022, is preparing for sailing solo and nonstop around the world, with a start date in February 2023 from Honolulu.
Launched in 2004 as Groupama 2, Lawson’s boat earned five ORMA championships under skipper Franck Cammas. America’s Cup challenger Oracle Team USA used the boat as a training platform for the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010, and then under new ownership in 2014, it set the Transpac Race record in 2017 as Mighty Merloe.
Anticipating an elapsed time fewer than 70 days, the 40-year-old from Baltimore seeks to be the First African American to Non-Stop Solo-circumnavigate the World, Fastest American (Rich Wilson 107d), First American on a Multihull Solo, and Fastest Person on a 60-foot boat (Armel le Clech holds it at 73 days from Vendee Globe as the Outright and Monohull for 59ft 11inches and shorter).
Here are the rules as set by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) for a round the world course:
• To sail around the World, a vessel must start from and return to the same point, must cross all meridians of longitude and must cross the Equator. It may cross some but not all meridians more than once (i.e. two roundings of Antarctica do not count). The shortest orthodromic track of the vessel must be at least 21,600 nautical miles in length calculated based on a ‘perfect sphere’. In calculating this distance, it is to be assumed that the vessel will sail around Antarctica in latitude 63 degrees south.
• A vessel starting from any point where the direct orthodromic distance is too short shall pass one single island or other fixed point on a required side so as to lengthen his orthodromic track to the minimum distance.
• No starting point will be permitted more south than 45° south.
• 1 degree of longitude at 63° south will be taken as 27.24NM
As the independent authority established by World Sailing to provide standards and accuracy for record attempts, the WSSRC offers Performance Certificates for achievement in non-recognized categories, and world records for achievement in established categories.
Larson reports the WSSRC would award Performance Certificates for:
• First African American
• Fastest American
• First American Multihull
• 6th Person to solo non-stop in Multihull
Additionally, among the possible achievement for completing the voyage, Larson is seeking world records for:
• Fastest Solo Non-Stop Around the World Outright – 40 days
• Fastest Solo Non-Stop Around the World 60ft Anytime (Multihull) – no current record
• Intermediate Records (ex. Equator to Equator) – 29 days