Solo round-world yachtsman takes long way home

Taking a break from his solo round-the-world odyssey in honour of a famous countryman is Fanch Guillon (60), aboard his 12m yacht Chanik at his temporary Otago Yacht Club berth yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Taking a break from his solo round-the-world odyssey in honour of a famous countryman is Fanch Guillon (60), aboard his 12m yacht Chanik at his temporary Otago Yacht Club berth yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A French sailor has stopped in Dunedin part way through a single-handed circumnavigation in celebration of his compatriot, famous for abandoning the first round-the-world solo yacht race.

Fanch Guillon set sail from France on June 23 aboard the 12m yacht Chanik, one of 25 participants in the inaugural ''La Longue Route'' voyage.

The event was organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bernard Moitessier beginning the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the first solo, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race.

While he was on track to have the fastest time and take home the 5000 prize, Mr Moitessier opted not to return to the start line in England and the adulation of the crowds.

He instead cracked on, sailing another half of the way round the world to Tahiti, for reasons seemingly linked to his intense mysticism and opposition to the commercialisation of sailing.

Mr Guillon, who hails from the small harbour town of Le Bono in Brittany, was at pains to emphasise the event was not a race, but a ''rally'' in the spirit of Moitessier.

Speaking near his temporary berth at Otago Yacht Club yesterday, the 60-year-old explained he had sailed into the harbour on Monday to catch up with his friend Francis Tolan, also taking part in the voyage, who had blown out three Genoa sails and had engine issues.

Mr Tolan was yesterday near Stewart Island and bound for Dunedin, expected to arrive later this week.

It was the pair's third stop since setting off - the first was in Sao Vicente, an island of Cape Verde off West Africa, after Mr Tolan had issues with his mast, followed by a stop in Brazil when Mr Guillon had water coming on board.

He hoped to be back in France within four months, to reunite with his wife and two children.

Only about a dozen boats remained on the voyage after half the fleet retired.

There was a boat in front of him, helmed by a woman, charging through the Pacific, while the rest of the fleet were still in the Indian Ocean.

george.block@odt.co.nz


 

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