Bermuda is to be the launching point for a round-the-world sailing record, as one man sets out to beat the fastest time set from the Island 37 years ago.
Dr Stanley Paris, father of Bermuda’s own round-the-world yachtsman Alan Paris, arrived on the Island this week from Newport, Rhode Island, in his custom-built Kiwi Spirit.
The yacht sets sail for Antigua this morning as part of its test-run before the big trip.
The 74-year-old aims next year to become the oldest person to circle the globe on a non-stop solo-sailing mission, unassisted and “totally green”.
The veteran sailor starts his journey around the globe in the environmentally-friendly vessel on November 30, when he is hoping to set new round-the-world records from St Augustine, Florida as well as from Bermuda.
Dr Paris, a retired physiotherapist, spent plenty time on the Island and in local waters — he helped set up the Trunk Island Swim.
A lifelong sailor since his New Zealand childhood, he said he isn’t out to outdo his son, who became Bermuda’s first sailor to circle the globe solo in 2003.
Asked why he’s contemplating a trip of his own at the age of 74, Dr Paris mused: “Self-reliance. Is there solitude? Yes. There are sunrises, sunsets — the water’s always changing. It’s beautiful. Challenging. You have to be self-sufficient. Constantly thinking ahead. You can really relax sometimes, but when things start changing, you have to move fast.
“Why do it? It’s in keeping with my life. I’ve taken on challenges all my life, and gotten tremendous satisfaction. I’m not afraid to fail, either. I tried five times to swim across the English Channel and succeeded twice.”
The record he’s challenging next year was set by in 1986 by US sailor Dodge Morgan, who embarked from St George’s in November 1985 and returned to Bermuda some 150 days, one hour and six minutes later.
“Someone asked me how come no one has challenged the record since then,” Dr Paris said.
“Not everybody is that adventurous, though. There are real risks out there, and we’re becoming a world of sports spectators rather than sports players.”
He’s struck logs off the Oregon coast, suspects he may have hit whales, and will have to keep vigilant for icebergs on the southern leg of his journey, which on the way out and the way back will swing around the Island, crossing the point from which Mr Morgan set his record.
“Given my connection with Bermuda and my son’s, given that the record was set from Bermuda, it was appealing to me to take this one on,” Dr Paris said.
Dr Paris intends to sail from Bermuda for a rigorous test-racing of the boat before the real voyage starts.
“I’ve found a few things I want to change already,” he said.
The Kiwi Spirit is “green” — no gasoline, no butane, no hydrocarbons on board except for the material used to build its carbon fibre body and solar panels and hydro generators to supply power.
It’s impossible to get insurance for a boat intended for a one-man sailing trip that won’t come to land until it returns to Florida Dr Paris hopes it will be a trip of around 120 days.
He has eschewed big-name sponsorship for the voyage but is fundraising nonetheless.
“All the money I raise will go to physiotherapy research,” he said. “So far I’ve raised $170,000 for the cause.”
Dr Paris will be putting names of donors around the hull of the Kiwi Spirit — which will be back next year when he sets off to break the record.
To support his cause and find out more about his sailing mission, visit www.stanleyparis.com.