Offshore sailing has come a long way in a very short space of time. It is at its height of popularity here in Australia. Today's sailors are now accomplishing previously unimaginable exploits, lightning fast offshore foils and catamarans around Cape Horn and ocean records being broken every few months, it's time to take a look back at a mere fifty years when we were not even sure that you could solo circumnavigate without stops. In 1968 that changed when from Falmouth in the UK the Suhali 32-foot ketch proved that, long distances could are achievable safely and single-handedly.
In 1969 it took 312 days and was considered at the time as a groundbreaking achievement that set the bar for all others to follow. Today's record now stands at only 42 days, literally night and day from 50 years ago.
If we look at the recent 2018/2019 VV Ocean Race, we have seen two boats set 24-hour distance records that have only been bettered by much larger and more technical boats, and this achieved in very challenging weather conditions.
Another significant step forward in the sport is the fact that mixed crews achieved this. The Akzonobel was the first crew to go past 600 nautical miles (1,111 km's) in the 24-hour format.
This year’s conditions were very harsh on the crews competing and were not conducive to breaking records, but the progress is undeniable. We saw 169 boats racing ion open water from Newport to Bermuda in open water.
The winning time this year was fifty hours thirty-one minutes.
Another first was a Multihull completing the race, and many experts did not believe there was a place for a Multihull in the race but they were proved wrong this time around.
Multihulls are now popular in Australia and will be very prevalent in the Race to Alaska starting next month and can be hired for Whitsunday sailing tours. The race begins in Port Towsend, Washington and ends in Victoria in British Columbia, a 710 nautical mile race that will test the limits of boats and crews.