Jeanne Socrates sets sail on record-breaking quest
British sailor Jeanne Socrates has started her third attempt to become the oldest person to sail solo and non-stop around the world without assistance.
The 76-year-old set out from Victoria, British Colombia in her Najad 380 Nereida on 3 October 2018, and hopes to complete her voyage by the end of May 2019.
Socrates previously tried to beat the record, currently held by Japan’s Minoru Saito, back in September 2016 but storms caused damage to Nereida, forcing her to return to port. Another attempt also had to be abandoned in October 2017 after a fall from a ladder left Socrates with a broken neck and months of treatment.
Now recovered, she told YM that she considers the record attempt ‘unfinished business’.
‘I was hoping after my accident that I would recover well enough to try again – and here I am, doing just that!’ said Socrates, who was 70 years 325 days old when she claimed the title of the oldest woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world in July 2013.
She is also the first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world from North America.
For this latest attempt, Socrates is leaving nothing to chance and said Nereida is ‘better prepared than ever’, with new sails, custom-designed stern steelwork to take solar panels and a wind-generator, and a furling staysail. The yacht was re-rigged in 2016.
She said she has set up Nereida for ‘normal, easy, small-crew handling’, with all lines led back to the cockpit and furling headsails, although she has no in-mast mainsail furling and makes use of slab-reefing instead. There are also no electric winches, but Socrates has invested in a cordless, heavy-duty, right-angle drill with a chuck fitted with a winchtop insert ‘so raising the main and shaking out reefs become a lot quicker and easier’.
‘Effectively, it’s like having an electric winch without the maintenance issues – but it’s only used for raising the main. For all other winching, it’s manual winching,’ said Socrates, who has done three previous circumnavigations – one westabout through the Tropics, two eastabout via the Southern Ocean.
The Blue Water Medal winner insists age is no barrier and that ‘one’s health and mental attitude’ is what matters. Jeanne Socrates’ record attempt, which is also raising money for the RNLI, can be followed at
BELOW: Jeanne Socrates is hoping to beat the record currently held by Japan’s Minoru Saito