Jeanne Socrates sets sail on record-break­ing quest

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

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

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