Sailing for a 30,000 Mile Solo Ocean Race

More than 2,700 people have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Five hundred have been into space. But fewer than 180 people have ever raced round the world solo.

Since it began almost 30 years ago, 123 sailors have lined up at the starting line of Velux 5 Oceans, but only 73 have crossed the finishing line. And two have died following their dream, said the skylight company Velux America on Thursday, Nov. 11.

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But in mid-October five skippers from the UK, Poland, Canada and Belgium, along with Brad Van Liew of the United States, departed La Rochelle, France for the start of the longest and toughest single-handed ocean race in the world.

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For nine months, from October 2010 until June 2011, they will sail, alone, across five oceans spanning 30,000 nautical miles.

The Velux 5 Oceans is a contest to overcome extreme challenges and achieve extraordinary results.

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“Mastering the elements is a goal shared by Velux and the skippers of the Velux 5 Oceans,” says Timothy B. Miller, president of skylight manufacturer Velux America.

The race is sailed with Eco 60 class boats, a new environmentally friendly class of yacht. The race is governed by rules and regulations designed to limit costs and encourage positive environmental practices.

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Le Pingouin (The Penguin), Van Liew’s boat, for example, employs two new hydrogenerators designed for maximum efficiency and power output with minimum drag. 

With these, in concert with solar panels, Van Liew expects to carry out an ambitious eco-friendly plan to sail around the world using no fossil fuels whatsoever, promoting a message of sustainable living in the process.

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The race started from La Rochelle in France on October 17 and features five ocean sprints passing the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leewin and Cape Horn.

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After heading from La Rochelle to Cape Town, South Africa, the skippers will call at Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil, and Charleston, SC in the US before racing the final leg across the Atlantic back to France finishing in June 2011.

For more information about, and to follow the race, visit

RMN News

Rakesh Raman