Chinese adventurer sets off solo world sail

Updated: 2012-11-18 22:36


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QINGDAO - Chinese sailor Guo Chuan set out on Sunday from Qingdao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong province, for a solo, non-stop sail around the globe.

The 47-year-old Guo, the first Chinese sailor to have taken part in the Clipper Round the World (2006) and the first Chinese to complete the Volvo Ocean Race (2008-2009), aims to travel 21,600 nautical miles in about 130 days, in a Class 40 boat "Qingdao", named after his hometown.

After departing from China, Guo will pilot his yacht across the Pacific Ocean to Cape Horn in Chile, sail into the Atlantic Ocean, then get into the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa before crossing the islands of Indonesia to return to the starting point in Qingdao.

"I have been preparing for this for about three years. It has been step by step," said Guo. "Learning the skills, finding the right boat, preparing the boat and training with a coach."

Guo will have to eat artificial dehydrated food during the voyage, and use a desalination unit to get drinking water. Though he is most concerned about the reliability of his vessel over the next four months.

"It's hard to say whether the boat, the rope or the sail will go wrong in the middle of the journey," Guo said. "Glitches are inevitable. But, hopefully, big problems won't occur."

Guo earned a master's degree in aircraft control from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and then worked on China's commercial satellite launch projects. But everything in Guo's life changed forever during a trip to Hong Kong in 2000. He joined friends at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for a day's sailing - the first time he had ever been out on a boat.

"Back in those days I had no real idea about sailing but I really knew in my heart straight away from that day that I wanted to learn," he said.

Guo then decided that his career would take a different path. Now a professional sailor, Guo already has a number of firsts to his name - the first Chinese to participate in the Mini Transat sailing event, successfully sailing across the Atlantic Ocean single-handed in a mini yacht (6.5-meter) and the first Chinese to cross the English Channel solo.