Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

He's done it! Sailor sets Around-Americas solo sailing record

by Nancy Knudsen on 21 Apr 2012
Matt Rutherford arrives showing his barnacles from over 300 days of continuous sailing including the North West Passage and rounding Cape Horn .. .
He's done it! With aircraft flying over and people waving, Matt Rutherford crossed the finish line at the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge in Norfolk, Va., at 10:48 a.m. Wednesday, becoming the first solo sailor to circumnavigate North and South America nonstop. Rutherford, who is sailing a 27-foot boat called the St. Brendan, steps on land for the first time today (Saturday) at noon during a public ceremony in Annapolis in Maryland USA.

During his solo journey which lasted ten months - 314 days - he has had every sort of weather and every sort of problem. He has sailed, non-stop, and incredible 23,000 miles. He was almost run over by a freighter and had to fire shotgun rounds into the air so drunken fishermen would steer their boat clear of his boat.

The boat was not purpose built and, after gale conditions, an icy pathway through the North West Passage, then vast miles down the Pacific, then the huge waves of Cape Horn, his boat is showing some wear. The engine is out some time ago, the wind generator and solar panels ceased working, so no power left.


The story:
31-year-old Matt Rutherford left Annapolis on 21st April, with a dream of doing something outrageous - to sail more than 23,000 miles around the Americas to raise money for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating( CRAB).

At the time, hardly anyone believed he could do it, and even Matthew was cautious, hoping at first that he could just survive the North West Passage. Defying all the odds, he not only conquered that, but finished the complete rounding of both Americas without touching shore.

'It's like Edmund Hillary going up Mount Everest without Sherpas,' said Lee Tawney, director of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, this week. 'I don't think anybody believed he could do it and he's almost here.'

His boat is a 36-year-old donated 27ft Albin-Vega. It's so small he couldn't stand up in the cabin.

This is how the Washing Post described the moment of his arrival:

Within minutes of his placing his first bare, calloused foot on dry land, they whisked Matt Rutherford away from his joyful family and led him to a makeshift stage in the center of Annapolis's City Dock, where, clad in a crusty floppy hat, a pungent pair of black mesh shorts and the same vintage Popeye T-shirt he had worn at his departure 10 months earlier, he took a seat next to the governor and his wife and gazed out at the hundreds of faces suddenly staring at him.

The incongruity of it all was not lost on him. For 10 months, as he completed a solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas aboard a 27-foot sailboat - a feat certified as unprecedented by the U.S. Sailing Hall of Fame - Rutherford had scarcely had any human contact.

But now, on a gorgeous, breezy Saturday, at the end of a spirited ceremony replete with a Dixieland jazz band, a drum and bugle corps, a bagpiper and speeches by Gov. Martin O'Malley and a half-dozen others, someone was handing him a microphone and - as the crowd roared for the man one speaker called 'our hero' - asking him to say a few words.

'Long time, no see,' Rutherford, 31, said into the mike, with the same familiar combination of awkwardness and comedic timing that those who know him best had missed these last 309 days. He was still barefoot, his toenails brown and gnarled, and thick shocks of dark orange hair spilled out below his hat.

'Being here is like a dream,' he said. 'Any minute I'm going to wake up and be in the middle of the ocean.'

Barz Optics - Melanin LensesNaiad/Oracle SupplierSouthern Spars - 100

Related Articles

MoY Classic Yacht Regatta - Dates for 35th edition revealed
The Museum of Yachting at IYRS is pleased to reveal to the community the 35th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta. The Museum of Yachting at IYRS is pleased to reveal to the community the 35th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta, August 29th- 31st. Registration is now open for the MoY Classic Yacht Regatta, part of the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge which also includes the Nantucket Opera Cup Regatta (Nantucket, MA) and the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta (Marblehead, MA).
Posted on 15 Aug 2014
Sailor Jeanne Socrates, world's oldest non-stop female circumnavigator
70-year-old Jeanne Socrates arrives Victoria, Canada, as the oldest woman to sail solo non-stop around the world After many days of frustrating drifting, 70-year-old British sailor Jeanne Socrates has made it home to Victoria in triumph, becoming the oldest woman to single-handedly sail non-stop around the world without outside assistance.
Posted on 9 Jul 2013
UK Sailmakers gives Yassine a new mast for 150nm Laser sail record
Yassine Darkaoui wants to sail a 150nm course from Phuket - and has a new mast, thanks to UK Sailmakers In December we ran a story about how a young Moroccan sailor was in Thailand training to sail a 150nm course in a tiny Laser to break the world record. His problem was, his mast was broken and he couldn't afford a new one. Now, thanks to our Asia Editor Guy Nowell and UK Sailmakers Hong Kong representative, Barry Hayes, who read the story, things are looking up for Yassine Darkaoui.
Posted on 17 Jan 2013
Southernmost sailing voyages - who really has the record?
Andrew Troup corrects the records on the most southerly voyages by sailing boats. Recently a Ukrainian/Russian sailing boat, the 98ft steel-hulled Scorpius reached 77 degrees south and claimed a world record. This was greeted by a storm of protest from our readers, one of whom pointed out that in 1965 a tiny Moth was sailed at (but not to) 77.5 degrees. There were other claims too. Andrew Troup here corrects the records...
Posted on 14 Apr 2012
And the most southerly-sailing boat ever is...
Last week we said Ukrainian yacht Scorpius set a new world record in sailing furthest south - 77deg but we were wrong! Last week in Sail-World we told how Ukrainian-Russian crew aboard 30m sailing yacht Scorpius had claimed a new world record in sailing farther south into Antarctica than any other boat had gone, reaching 77 degrees. But we were wrong - well, in a way; because in 1965, Lt. Commander Steve Cockley, based in Mc Murdo Sound, had sailed a Moth, an 11ft (3.4m) dinghy, at 77.5 degrees S.
Posted on 1 Apr 2012
Laura Dekker completes solo circumnavigation at 16 years and 123 days
21 Jan: Solo sailor Laura Dekker has arrived Sint Maarten completing her solo circumnavigation at 16 years and 123 days This week (Saturday 21st January) Laura Dekker, 16-year-old Dutch/New Zealander solo sailor, quietly sailed between islands in pleasant seas into the Dutch island of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, completing a solo odyssey around the world in a year and a day. There were merely dozens, not thousands, of people at the wharf to greet her.
Posted on 22 Jan 2012
Steve White - solo round the world the 'wrong way'
Steve White is to sail solo, round the world, non-stop and unassisted the 'wrong way', AND break the current record. Dee Caffari has done it, now Steve White is setting out to do it too. He's going to sail solo, round the world, non-stop and unassisted, AND the 'wrong way', AND break the current record.
Posted on 11 Sep 2010
Dee Caffari finishes Aviva Challenge
Dee Caffari, onboard Aviva, crossed the official finish line on 18 May 2006 at 17:55 pm Dee Caffari, onboard Aviva, crossed the official finish line on 18 May 2006 at 17:55 pm
Posted on 19 May 2006
All aboard for Med-Red 2006
The Med-Red Rally is about to set sail. The Med-Red Rally is about to set sail. Sailors from 13 nations are gathering in Yacht Marina Marmaris, Turkey, before setting off on the Rally.
Posted on 14 Mar 2006
Atlantic,Pacific, now Indian Ocean on a Sailboard
French adventurer, Raphaela LeGouvello, will attempt the Indian Ocean crossing on a sailboard, solo and non assisted. It's not a joke! It's ACTUALLY happening. French adventurer, Skipper Raphaela LeGouvello, will attempt the Indian Ocean crossing on a sailboard, solo and non-assisted, departing from Exmouth on 5 April 2006.
Posted on 8 Mar 2006