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Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

William MacBrien and the Class40 Phoenix: Ready to take flight at the Global Solo Challenge

by Margherita Pelaschier / Global Solo Challenge 25 Sep 07:47 PDT
Phoenix Class40 (formerly Sec.Hayai) © Sec.Hayai

William MacBrien, the only Canadian skipper entered in the Global Solo Challenge, is a man of many passions: not only an experienced sailor but also a skydiver who holds two records in Canada, with over 3,000 jumps to his credit.

The name he has chosen for the boat that will accompany him on this adventure, as well as for his project, is Phoenix—a name loaded with meaning and promise.

William inherited his passion for sailing from his father, a naval aircraft carrier pilot and Olympic sailor in the Dragon class during the '60s. His father also founded a shipyard specializing in the production of 40-foot cruising boats. Raised in this nautical context, MacBrien has always been immersed in the world of sailing.

"From a young age, I was aware of the extraordinary challenge that a solo round-the-world sailing trip represents. Although it was a dream, I had never seriously considered attempting the feat, given the high stakes in terms of risks. However, after sailing about 40,000 nautical miles double-handed, I realized that the risks could be mitigated through careful planning and rigorous discipline. One story that particularly struck me was that of Viktor Yazykov, a former Russian commando. In 1998, during his participation in the Around Alone, he had to operate on himself to remove an abscess from his elbow. This episode highlighted the potential dangers of such a journey," says the Canadian skipper.

William's skydiving experience has provided him with indispensable skills in sailing as well: "Throughout my life, I have developed the habit of thinking before acting. This mindset has been particularly useful during parachute malfunctions I've experienced in flight. In moments of tension, I tend to act rather than freeze. At sea, this could be my strong point; I'm a good sailor in a storm."

MacBrien began preparing his project shortly after the announcement of the launch of the Global Solo Challenge in September 2021. Initially leaning towards purchasing a 50-footer, he later opted for renting an already tried-and-tested boat, the winner of the Globe40, a double-handed, multi-stage around-the-world race. The boat, previously known as "Sec Hayai" and now renamed Phoenix, is an Akilaria RC1 Class40 that complies with Category 0.

"I wanted to simplify the boat's preparation by choosing a vessel already tested and designed for these oceanic endeavors. Of course, there were some modifications to be made, but I saved months of optimizing systems for a solo circumnavigation. Over the past two years, I have instead focused on mental preparation for the event. The question I ask myself is: 'How can I do this or that alone?' and I try to anticipate and solve all possible scenarios I can imagine... alone. It's my first circumnavigation, so my goal is to finish. To do that, I have to sail smart, not fast."

Continue reading the full article here...

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