16 - The fastest RIB around the world
Friday 8th August
Saturday 9th August is going to be a special day in Portsmouth. The last round the world sailor to return to a hero's welcome was Alec Rose, in July 1968, after his epic 354 day voyage around the world. Now Alan Priddy's Jolly Sailor is coming home.
Never mind the fact that we have just made the fastest ever crossing of the Atlantic by Rigid Inflatable Boat. What's more to the point is that we have been right around the world, and then some. And even with the time spent over last winter with the boat under six feet of snow in Newfoundland, the total time from leaving Cardiff on March 31st 2002 to arriving back in Portsmouth on August 9th 2003 still beats by a handsome margin the leisurely two years set in the mid '90s by Bryan Peterson. In fact, if you disregard all the layovers, and take "at sea" times purely, Spirit of Cardiff / Jolly Sailor has achieved a circumnavigation of the world in under 80 days.
Last year's circumnavigation stopped with a total sea time of 73 days 20 hours 11 minutes, while the transatlantic just completed clocked 4 days 23 hours 55 minutes at sea. Obviously the start and finish points were different, so there's no official world record in sight, but even so, the achievement is clear.
It might be worth repeating here that, never mind the unofficial records, Spirit of Cardiff / Jolly Sailor is the most successful powerboat in history. Her official UIM world records stretch back to 2000, when she set the first ever powerboat circumnavigation of the entire British Isles, followed four months later by Gibraltar / Monaco, smashing the Cable and Wireless Adventurer's fastest round-the-world port-to-port record. Then in May 2001, Spirit of Cardiff set the UIM world record for a transatlantic from New York to Lizard Point. That record still stands. Last week's transatlantic via Greenland and Iceland, although not an official record, was considerably faster. And then of course there's the small case of 29 port-to-port records from last year's voyage around the world.
When Alec Rose returned triumphant to Portsmouth in 1968, he had a crowd of quarter of a million people to greet him, and a gun was fired as he crossed the finishing line. Realistically, we don't expect that many people to turn out to see us in, but the world famous Portsmouth Field Gun Crew are going to fire a six-gun salute as we enter Gunwharf Quay. That's going to be pretty memorable, not to mention having the boat subsequently towed on its trailer through historic Portsmouth by the Field Gun Crew, raising more funds for the Make a Wish Foundation.
We've been keeping tabs on our transatlantic competitors, and our heartfelt concerns and admiration go out to them. Crossing the North Atlantic in an open boat is no easy task, as we are all too aware. Alan, Jan and Steve's successful Atlantic crossing in 1997 in a much smaller and less sophisticated boat was a voyage of discovery, and they never thought that anybody would be foolhardy enough to attempt it an open boat again. One thing's for sure, we will be the first to raise a glass of cheer on their safe arrival home.
We look forward to seeing you all on the quayside at Gunwharf Quay at 1300 on Saturday.
© 2003 Clive Tully
Update transmitted by Stratos Iridium satellite phone.