Chinese sailor completes record-setting solo circumnavigation of globe

Qingdao (China), April 5 (IANS) After nearly 138 days at sea, Chinese sailor Guo Chuan successfully returned to his starting point here Friday morning to become the first man to complete non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world.

Aboard a 40-foot (12.2 metres) monohull, the 48-year-old set off from Qingdao, a coastal city in east China’s Shandong Province, Nov 18 last year and travelled about 21,600 nautical miles in 137 days, 20 hours, two minutes and 28 seconds, though his time needs to be confirmed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, reports Xinhua.

After his yacht crossed the finish line, Guo jumped into the water for celebration and then swam towards the dock to meet his wife and son.

“I am so happy that I can again see so many people, so many people who care about me. I feel like I am the happiest man in the world because I do not have to eat those dehydrofrozen food nor just sleep two or three hours each day any more,” said Guo, who knelt down as soon as he stepped on land with tears streaming down his cheeks.

As Thursday is the Tomb-Sweeping Day, a traditional festival when Chinese mourn their deceased family members, Guo paid homage to his late father after his Odyssey-like adventure.

“I hope he can share the moment with me. He passed away two years ago when I was training in France. I wanted to rush home to see him the last time but I did not make it. I wish he could see me today. I think he would understand in other world and feel happy about me,” said a sobbing Guo, whose childhood dream was to become a scientist.

“I want to thank the wind for being my enemy as well as my friend. It is the wind that keeps me company all the time. It challenges me but also brings me home,” he said.

After departing from Qingdao, Guo piloted his yacht eastwards across the Pacific Ocean to Cape Horn in Chile, sailed into the Atlantic Ocean, then went into the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa before crossing the Sunda Strait in Indonesia to return to Qingdao.

Guo had expected to finish the circumnavigation within 125 days but was forced to prolong his journey following a string of hard times on board, ranging from equipment failures, a fishing net barrage off the Chinese coast, a fast-moving tropical storm and falling into an area of no wind a few days after entering the southern hemisphere.

Despite the delay, Guo still can write his name down in the sailing history as no one has ever managed the feat in a boat of such size. Guo is the first and only professional offshore sailor in China. He is also the first Chinese to take part in the Clipper Round the World in 2006 and the Volvo Ocean Race as the media crew member on “Green Dragon” from 2008 to 2009.

In 2011 he became the first Chinese to participate in the Mini Transat sailing event and successfully sailed across the Atlantic Ocean single-handed in a mini yacht of 6.5 metres.

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