Chinese skipper Guo Chuan and his international crew of four sailors and one media crew member from Germany, Russia and France set the first World Record for a non-stop sail of the famed Northeast Passage in the treacherous Arctic Ocean on Tuesday, officially crossing the finish line at the Bering Strait at 16h48 UTC (12:48pm Eastern) on September 15.
The adventure took the crew and their 97-foot trimaran Qingdao China 13 days to reach the Bering Strait since the departure on September 3 from the Russian port of Murmansk. It is the first time a racing sailboat has sailed non-stop successfully through the Arctic Ocean’s Northeast Passage from Murmansk to Bering Strait – the shortest route from Europe to the Pacific. It also marked the furthest north that a racing sailboat has ever sailed on record.
During the non-stop sail, the crew faced numerous challenges from icebergs and growlers to powerful winds and freezing temperatures that caused ice to build up on various sections of their trimaran. To prevent potential ice damage, the boat was fitted with special Kevlar protection while the team kept vigilant eye on the waters ahead. The day before the finish, the crew was forced to take down the entire mainsail to repair a broken car on the mainsail track.
But they persevered to reach the finish. As soon as they crossed the finish line, the crew jumped with joy and pride, holding a special ceremony to celebrate the occasion with a whiteboard on which Guo Chuan recorded the historic achievement: “Arctic Ocean, Northeast Passage World Record – 15 September, 2015.”
The Chinese skipper was so excited that he could not hold back his emotions: “I’m so on the top of the world. It’s such an unbelievable moment. Even two months ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I could have a moment like this. It is a moment that could only happen in a dream. I feel very proud of myself and my crew. It is a challenging and tough journey, especially as we were surrounded by ice and gusts under the extreme cold weather. The boat was bumping like a roller-coaster sometimes and seemed totally out of control. For several times, when we were in a very difficult situation, I was suspect whether we could go further. But thanks to our determination and all brave and excellent crew, we overcome the difficult time together and finally made it.”
Congratulations from seafarers, adventurers and sailors around the world have already started flooding in. The Arctic Ocean Northeast Passage non-stop sailing world record is the second world record Guo Chuan has achieved. In 2013, he set the world record of solo non-stop circumnavigation in a Class 40 monohull.
During the voyage, Qingdao China reached maximum speed of 37 knots on September 4, and covered 466 miles during one 24-hour stretch between September 4 at 11h04 and September 5 at 11h04 with an average speed 19.43 knots. The official departure time was 13h41 UTC on September 3. The record will now be submitted for validated by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.