Swedish sailor Sven Yrvind, boat builder, inventor and writer, is planning to sail around the world solo and non-stop in a 10ft sailing boat he is building in his workshop. He is already famous in Sweden for sailing alone across oceans in tiny boats of his own design.
Sven in one of his tiny boats
Living on mainly sardines and granola, supplemented with whatever fish he can catch, the intrepid sailor's route will take him from the tip of Ireland down the Atlantic Ocean, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, passing below Tasmania, then around Cape Horn before sailing up the Atlantic again to cross his outbound path.
Sven and his half-built boat
In 1980, Yrvind rounded Cape Horn in 'Bris II', a 20'/5.90m boat of his own design, alone and in the middle of winter, a record for smallest boat to round the Cape. This achievement won Yrvind the 1980 Royal Cruising Club medal for seamanship, and later was inducted into the Museum of Yachting's Sailing Hall of Fame.
Apart from designing and building many more tiny boats, Sven is the author of three books, 'With Bris round Cape Horn' (with Anders Öhman 1985), 'Bris' (1990) and 'The Constructor' (2003), which are currently in the process of being translated into English.
That's not all, for Sven is also the inventor of the Bris sextant, a small, angle-measuring instrument used in navigation.
If successful, he will establish a new record for being the smallest boat to circumnavigate the world.
'I'll be completely safe. It's like a ping-pong ball in the sea, it never breaks,' Mr. Yrvind told the Wall Street Journal while showing the boat in his workshop. 'A small boat constructed the right way is always stronger than a big boat.'
The current holder of the record for the smallest boat to circumnavigate is Italian-French Alessandro di Benedetto in a sailing boat 6.5 m. long.
Starting in October 2009 from Les Sables d’Olonne, Alessandro covered the 28,360 mile route in 270 days. The most famous incident of the journey was his dismasting just before he was to round Cape Horn. Undaunted, he jury-rigged a sail, and kept going. (Read http://www.sail-world.com/CruisingAus/Alessandro-di-Benedetto---around-the-Horn-with-a-jury-rigged-mast/68633!Sail-World_Story)
Sven, at 73, is no fragile old man, either. He keeps a tough training and dietary schedule. Almost every day, he either bikes, climbs a local hilltop, paddles his kayak or goes for a six-mile run. He says he does six chin-ups a day and keeps his calories in check by eating two daily meals and snacking on fruit.
Made out of composite materials, the 'Yrvind 10' is designed to weigh 1½ tons, have a rounded 6-foot bow and stern and feature two sails. The width-to-length ratio, the rounded edges and a heavy center of gravity—with the floor stuffed with books and food packed in watertight containers—should quickly right the boat should it flip.
'It will capsize, it will pitchpole, but it will always come back up,' Sven asserts while demonstrating how he plans to strap himself in a seat belt at the bottom of a 31-inch bed to combat thrusts from the waves. 'No matter how it twists and turns, I'll be lying here calmly reading.'
On deck, a big rope tied around his waist will keep him attached to the boat at all times, even when going for an occasional dip in cold waters.
Sven will have a tracker on his http://www.yrvind.com!website and will generate power by 'pedal-power' allowing him to run a computer and take an eBook reader with him, as well as a good stack of conventional books.
This means, he says, that he won't be doing the journey alone. 'I plan to make a journey to the higher spiritual spheres, and there I won't be alone. A hundred kilos of well-chosen nonfiction books written by the world's biggest thinkers will guide me,' he told the Wall Street Journal during an interview.
Sven might be going for a record, but there are better aims as well. The project is partly a criticism against what he describes as an excessive consumption-driven culture that risks depleting the world's natural resources.