Barcelona World Race. After 100 days, three hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds at sea, Ryan Breymaier (Annapolis, Md./Washington, D.C.) – the lone American in the Barcelona World Race – stands on solid ground after finishing the race on Sunday, April 10.
Now, 30 pounds lighter, he reflects back on how far he has come since the start of the race on December 31, 2010, saying: 'This has been a very interesting experience and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Though it was a competition, it was also an experience in other ways and has been super valuable for me in terms of my personal growth.'
This race was Breymaier’s first experience circumnavigating the globe, and with the help of German co-skipper Boris Herrmann, his Team Neutrogena took home fifth place out of 14 boats entered in the 25,000 nautical mile (46,300 km) journey, which included 2,000 hours of non-stop competition across three vast oceans, two hemispheres, and around three famous Capes.
In Great Britain, the epicenter of solo and shorthanded ocean racing, Breymaier and Herrmann had only moved in similar circles but had never met until they were brought together last year, united to pursue a dream that they both shared. The duo fulfilled that dream in a placing that achieves their pre-race target, and the execution of their journey has earned them widespread and considerable acclaim for a maturity that belies the fact that this Barcelona World Race is their first IMOCA Open 60 ocean race together.
Only the third team to finish this edition of the race without stopping, Herrmann becomes the first German sailor ever to complete a non-stop racing circumnavigation and to finish an IMOCA Open 60 race, while Breymaier – a late adoptee to sailing, who only started sailing seriously in 1993, when he attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland – is the first American ever to finish the Barcelona World Race.
'When I was about 20 years old my now mentor, Roland Jourdain, showed up with these types of boats, the IMOCAs, in Baltimore, which is a town very close to where I live,' said Breymaier. 'It was my first experience seeing boats that people were sailing around the world singlehanded, and I remember being inspired and motivated to try and have these kinds of experiences in my life.'
Among the highlights in the race, which Team Neutrogena often made look effortless, were close boat battles, first with the event’s most experienced duo, Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret, on Mirabaud, with whom they tussled from the descent of the South Atlantic to the threshold of the Pacific. Team Neutrogena finally eased away from the Swiss-French couple, going through the Cook Strait in fourth. After that, Team Neutrogena involved itself in a match race up the Atlantic with Estrella Damm, which only finally escaped their clutches just north of the Cape Verde islands to earn fourth place.
To the west of Cape Horn, a few days after Breymaier revealed that Team Neutrogena had leaked oil from a keel ram, their pace slowed slightly, but it was only when they passed Cape Horn, speaking by video simultaneously to Race, that Herrmann confirmed that they had a damaged keel ram, which would progressively compromise their performance. In the end, that was a major contributing factor when Estrella Damm finally broke away to set up a fast reaching return to Gibraltar, while Neutrogena was left slogging upwind, close to the rhumb line.
Their repair skills were tested by rebuilding the autopilot hydraulics and the hydrogenerators; fixing a headstay; repairing a water ballast pipe – all of which cost them precious time.
One of their most memorable moments was when a key sail tumbled off the deck during a broach. Their seemingly pointless search for it in the tumultuous waters was suddenly rewarded when they spotted a number of albatross resting on the 150-pound sail, barely floating in its bag.
Breymaier moved to Europe six years ago to pursue his dream and work as a ground crew and rig specialist for Roland Jourdain, who eventually lent him and Herrmann the IMOCA Open 60 that would later become Team Neutrogena. In fact, in 2007 he prepared the IMOCA Open 60 for Jourdain to complete in the first Barcelona World Race, as well as subsequently for the Vendée Globe in 2008/2009.
Ironically, this will be the boat’s first fully completed circumnavigation after retirements from two successive solo Vendée Globe races. Team Neutrogena completed the course at an average of 10.49 knots, actually sailing 27,850 miles at an average speed of 11.59 knots, arriving six days, four hours, 53 minutes and 25 seconds after race winners Virbac-Paprec 3.
Their race has been underpinned by rock solid consistency; very strong, assured weather strategies in each ocean, (they are one of the few teams who will be almost entirely happy with their weather choices); and a youthful endurance, which allowed them to hold pace, or be faster, than many newer generation boats. Even so, theirs has been a big learning curve, the fruits of which they hope to take forward in future endeavors.
'Hopefully the media exposure that this has gotten in the United States can create a new generation of young people from that side of the pond who are interested in this kind of endeavor,' said Breymaier. 'As for completing a race like this in the future, I generally try not to repeat things in my life, I try to do other things all the time; as I’m more interested by a new challenge, but given the right opportunity with the right boat and the right partner, it’s certainly a possibility.' www.barcelonaworldrace.org