A new solo sailing, world record attempt got underway from Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth, on Thursday, 28 September.
Polish sailor Arek Pawelek departed Mayflower Marina on the outward afternoon tide, cheered on by friends, family, and supporters as he set sail to attempt to singlehandedly circumnavigate the globe, non-stop and unassisted in his 5-metre yacht ‘Elblag’.
Arek’s world record attempt will see the determined sailor follow the classic sea route around the three famous capes of Africa, Australia, and South America without stopping at ports and without outer medical or technical support. Arek’s living space on the yacht for the anticipated 300 days is less than 2 square meters (with a maximum height of 1.4m). The seasoned sailor will be self-sufficient onboard the yacht, living on freeze-dried, vacuum-packed food and using a manual desalination pump to make drinking water. While undertaking this sailing challenge, Arek also has ambitions to learn a new musical instrument, the traditional Baltic kantele (a five-stringed folk chordophone).
The current world record for the smallest yacht to circumnavigate the globe was achieved by his fellow countryman and friend Szymon Kuczynski, Skipper of the 6,36 m-long yacht ‘Atlantic Puffin’ in 2017. Szymon, who also nominated Mayflower Marina in Plymouth for his successful world record, met with Arek just before his departure in Plymouth and wished his potential world record successor sage advice and fair winds ahead of the arduous adventure.
Arek, who took up sailing in his thirties, following a naval career as a diver, has already established himself as an experienced sailor, having participated in the Sydney to Hobart and Gotland Runt races. Arek’s adventurous nature first attracted attention in 1998 when he participated in sailing across the Atlantic from Cadiz to Barbados on a 4,4-metre-long inflatable boat. In 2008, Arek sailed single-handedly around Cape Horn on an open RIB and, in 2016, took part in the Setka Atlantic Challenge, which involved sailing on self-built 5-metre-long plywood boats from Setka to Martinique.
Arek says, ‘Fewer than three hundred people have sailed single-handedly around the world, and less than one hundred sailors achieved this without stopovers or outer backing. People have asked why I want to sail such a small boat. I was searching for a new adventure and considered sailing the world on my 2.7 m-long dinghy. My wife, unsurprisingly, was concerned about this and suggested I sail the world in ‘Elblag’ instead.
‘I like sailing on small boats. I feel more confident on small boats than on large sailing yachts. For years, I have been trying to show other sailors that sailing doesn’t have to be very expensive and can be made on a budget. I encourage others to buy or build small yachts and try to sail at sea. Despite some last-minute challenges with my desalination pump and the weather conditions of Storm Agnes, I am excited to be here in the friendly Mayflower Marina, ready to set sail for a non-stop round-the-world challenge on the smallest boat ever.’
Managing Director of Mayflower Marina, Charles Bush, says, ‘We are delighted to support Arek and Elblag at Mayflower Marina ahead of this incredible record attempt. We wish Arek the best of luck and will follow his progress with great interest. We look forward to championing his safe return next summer.’