Bruce Arms, a boat builder from Mooloolaba in Queensland, has just set a new record for a solo circumnavigation of Australia in his 14.14m Chamberlin-designed catamaran, Big Wave Rider, travelling 6698 nautical miles non-stop to complete his journey in just under 39 days.
He crossed his outbound path yesterday to take the record by a whopping three days from the previous record holder Ian Thomson, a campaigner for ridding the world of plastic bags.
BRUCE arrived back to Mooloolaba sporting several injuries when he was welcomed to the commodore’s berth at Mooloolaba Marina.
He told the Sunshine Coast Daily it had been a tough ride. Unseasonable headwinds dogged him to the very end of the journey, forcing him to tack repeatedly as he made his way on the final leg from Cape Moreton to home.
The achievement set two records: at 38 days 22 hours, the fastest time for a solo, unassisted journey, and being the first person to do it solo in a catamaran.
Bruce's wife Suzanne and his famous protege Jessica Watson, who rounded the world solo last year before her 17th birthday, joined him on board after he had crossed the finishing line.
Arms spent his last night at sea tacking repeatedly to avoid prawn trawlers and cargo vessels off Cape Moreton, sleeping for just 20 minutes during the last 24 hours of his journey.
With a bandaged lower leg and a damaged knee and ankle he laughed that his boat had held up better than he had.
When off the West Australian coast his boat was so bashed by huge waves that he feared it may break up.
'I seriously thought of pulling out,' Arms told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
He pressed on south and into the Great Australian Bight where again winds that should have been rocketing him along from behind, came at him head on.
Then the wind swung and the seas rose. He lost the sea anchor or drogue that was meant to slow Big Wave Rider as it raced up, over and down 13-metre swells.
His arrival at Mooloolaba was greeted by a flotilla of vessels from Mooloolaba Yacht Club, Mooloolaba Marina and the Coast Guard.
He says he hopes his example will encourage others to try to break his record in catamarans. The facts:
FINISHED: 09.41.06 hours
TIME: 38 days 22 hours; 73 hours ahead of record (still to be ratified)
PREVIOUS RECORD: 42 days, 5 hours, 31 minutes, 55 seconds set on June 16, 2010, by Ian Thomson of Airlie Beach in SOS Ocean Racing
DISTANCE: 6698 nautical miles
VESSEL: 14.14m Chamberlin-designed catamaran