Please select your home edition
Edition
Jeanneau AUS Sunfast 728x90

Austrian sailor crosses the Atlantic in 4.9m FIPOFIX in 87 days

by Renate Johns on 15 Apr 2014
Harald Sedlacek in the 4.0m (16ft) boat that took him across the Atlantic in 87 days SW
It was an extraordinary family affair. The attempt to cross the Atlantic in almost** the smallest boat ever - at just 4.9m - had to be abandoned by Austrian extreme-adventure sailor Norbert Sedlacek twice because of energy supply and autopilot problems, but third time lucky when, in an amazing turnaround, Norbert's son, Harald, took over the helm of the tiny FIPOFIX for the next attempt, successfully completing the journey in 87 days, arriving in Palm Beach USA this week.

Now he's going to sail her home, departing in May, back to Les Sables d'Olonne, where she started.

Incidentally, it's also the longest single-handed-nonstop sail in any 4.9m (16ft) boat.



It was not an easy crossing, even when you consider that a normal slowish crossing takes little over three weeks, instead of almost three months.

Then there was the weather which didn't cooperate and technical problems with the boat. The wintry Bay of Biscay, the winter storms, the bad weather conditions in the trade wind belt, the breakdown of the autopilot and at last the partial breakdown of the rudder system demanded Sedlacek to go to the limits. Harald Sedlacek had to control FIPOFIX manually nearly all the covered distance and to spend almost all time in the unprotected cockpit! As a final challenge the skipper Sedlacek had to sail the Bahamas with an intensive ship traffic and unpredictable stream and 'last but not least' an unsteady weather on the way into Florida.



The skipper Harald Sedlacek has not only conquered the North Atlantic but he won a victory over himself, a win over indescribable stresses and efforts and a victory against the time. Finally he arrived to the coast of Florida with the last food provision after its daily reduction to only 1.100 kcal per day and the completely destroyed emergency rudder.

After arriving successfully, Harald confessed to his many doubts while on the long journey. 'There were many moments where I felt completely at the end and I was in danger of abandonment. In these moments I was afraid. I felt alone and unprotected. In such moments I recalled in memory our team discussions during the project planning and the building of our volcanic prototype. I looked at the boat body, thinking of our material tests etc… During the crossing I couldn’t see any structural weakness or even damages of the boat hull. I said to myself that I am in good hands on my 'sailing volcanic stone' and therefore I felt safe and often instantly felt better. I thought as long as this boat hull despite of its enormous efforts is not resigned, it’s my job to sail it to the west until I reach the American east coast. Only this counts!'



It is planned that Harald Sedlacek will rest for a couple of weeks in Austria before returning to plan for his departure on 18th May 2014 for the next single-handed nonstop Atlantic crossing from west to east. It is not only a success for the skipper but also a success of the newly developed material and technology which have been proved impressively during this crossing.

About FIPOFIX:
FIPOFIX ® is constructed by the new technologies of composite materials based on volcanic fibers designed by ASA.TEC. This is a development of new material in sailing construction which corresponds to the challenge of the 'limit of possible'. The know-how of the design and construction of the Open 16 is provided by Yacht Construction Consulting which will launch the smallest class of boats in yacht racing.

Of FIPOFIX, Harald says, 'Its positioning-technology in conjunction with volcanic fibers has an ultimate performance which is proved by our test and will revolutionize boat and yacht construction.'

About other crossings:
**47-year-old newspaperman Robert Manry, a copy editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, single-handedly crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1965 in Tinkerbelle, a 13.5-foot (4.1 m) sailing boat .

** In 1979, Gerry Spiess sailed Yankee Girl solo across the North Atlantic Ocean to set a world's record for the smallest boat crossing, west to east. It took him 54 days to sail 3,800 miles from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Falmouth, England. He did it in a plywood boat he had built in his garage in White Bear Lake, MN.

**A few years later, Hugo Vilhein made the Atlantic crossing in his 5 foot 4 inch Father's Day

Thanks to readers Dave Dussia, Marlin Bree and Brad Hendricks for giving us this information.

RS Sailing 660x82 AUSKiwi Yachting - LewmarYachtspot J Boats Sportsboats 660x82

Related Articles

Take the leap – Life as an Ocean Gypsy - Part 1
In February 2016 I was lucky enough to set sail aboard Team Mowbray’s 60’ yacht Commitment In February 2016 I was lucky enough to set sail aboard Team Mowbray’s 60’ yacht Commitment, on a voyage from the southern tip of South America to the magical world of Antarctica. This ‘journey of a life time’ introduced me to both the wonder and terror of ocean cruising. Exploring the treasures of the Antarctic peninsula, with our agenda governed only by weather and leaving smallest of footprints
Posted on 14 Oct
Discover sailing day at Albert Park Lake
This is a free introduction to dinghy sailing for people of all ages at Melbourne's safest and convenient place to sail Come out for a sail on a dinghy class sailboat, chat to a club member, go for a walk around Albert Park Lake, and relax at the lunchtime BBQ on the club's upstairs decking. New style RS Quest and RS Feva sailboats will be among the boats used.
Posted on 14 Oct
Questions answered at Discover Sailing Day
Discover Sailing Day, on October 22 is the chance to have questions addressed by the right people in a free environment More than quarter of a million Australians take part in organised sailing each year. However, for some others, concerns about logistics, costs and safety prevent them from ever getting out on the water. Discover Sailing Day, on October 22, is the chance to have questions addressed by the right people in a free and welcoming environment at your local Club.
Posted on 6 Oct
Abell Point Marina strikes double gold!
It was a record attendance at the 2017 Whitsunday Tourism Awards at Hamilton Island this weekend. It was a record attendance at the 2017 Whitsunday Tourism Awards at Hamilton Island this weekend. Over 340 attended the gala dinner with representatives from local tourism operators, regional and state tourism bodies, and local and state government, all gathering together to celebrate the achievements of the tourism industry this year.
Posted on 3 Oct
Funding boost for Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival
The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival received a welcome injection of cash this week when it was announced The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival received a welcome injection of cash this week when it was announced the event would receive $200,000 in Federal Government 'matched' funding. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox at Abell Point Marina, which will host the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in January 2018.
Posted on 30 Sep
Thirtieth blog from Jon Sanders - He is in Bundaberg Queensland
Lush green. Plenty of rain in the region. Hmmm, must be talking about in other years. It's dry. Bundaberg Queensland. East coast of Australia. Bundaberg region population near 100,000. Lush green. Plenty of rain in the region. Hmmm, must be talking about in other years. It's dry. In Perth on the Australian west coast (other side of the continent), I.E. other side of the desert. Has a Mediterranean climate. Rains in winter, dry in summer. Owners and tenants in suburbs hand water their lawns.
Posted on 29 Sep
Antarctic adventurer Lisa Blair shares her story
Inspiring solo sailor Lisa Blair likes to lighten mood every now and then even when describing life-and-death situations Inspiring solo sailor Lisa Blair likes to lighten the mood every now and then, even when describing life-and-death situations. So she won’t mind being described as someone who could talk under water. And it’s just as well because the gathering of sailors young and old at Gosford Sailing Club hung on to her every word as she described her amazing seafaring adventures.
Posted on 27 Sep
The heat is on
Take on warmer days without breaking sweat Take on warmer days without breaking sweat
Posted on 25 Sep
Lisa Blair becomes first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo
The World Sailing Speed Record Council ratified Lisa Blair’s circumnavigation of Antarctica, a 183 day long journey. The World Sailing Speed Record Council has officially ratified Lisa Blair’s circumnavigation of Antarctica, a 183 day long journey. Lisa’s solo and unassisted circumnavigation was not short of challenges, with seven metre seas and 40 knot winds leading to the dismasting of her 50ft yacht, Climate Action Now, just 72 days in.
Posted on 24 Sep
Hit the road Jack – Sailing Royalty farewells its king
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, farewelled one of Pittwater & Sydney’s all-time great sailors, Jack Gale on Thursday The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, farewelled one of Pittwater & Sydney’s all-time great sailors and much loved Club Life Member, Jack Gale, on Thursday 14th September 2017.
Posted on 16 Sep