Young Circumnavigator Sets Speed Record

The sailing press has been filled with accounts of the young solo circumnavigators. One of these, Mike Perham, completed his 164-day trip around the planet at age 17. It was a remarkable achievement, regardless of how you may feel about teenagers risking their lives for such a record.

Mike sailed the Open 50 “” nearly 30,000 nautical miles, faced storm-force winds, 50-foot seas, knockdowns past 900, and reached speeds up to 28 knots. He shaved two months off the time posted by Zac Sunderland who held the record for youngest circumnavigator over the previous 2 months. And he certainly sailed to adventure.

But what all this attention to youth overlooked was the age and identity of the boat Mike was sailing – and its incredible history. That’s because “” was originally launched in July 1996 as “CCP Cray Valley” for Jean-Pierre Mouligne. JP sailed this boat to victory in the 1998 Atlantic Alone, the 1998 BOC and smashed the Newport-Bermuda record the same year.

Under a long list of sponsor names through the years, this amazing Groupe Finot design has finished at least twenty trans-Atlantics and two trips around the World! That incredible itinerary doesn’t include all this boat’s “local” racing (Round Europe, Newport-Bermuda, etc.). JP estimated that her log exceeds 120,000 miles under sail.

And, now, for the punch line: From “CCP Cray Valley” to “,” this Open 50 has had but one mast, one boom and two rudder blades – all four original components built by GMT Composites and still going strong. Mike Perham may have had autopilot failures, bad rudder bearings, electrical problems and torn sails – and he even laid the rig in the water, but his GMT mast, boom and rudder blade never let him down.

For more on GMT spars, click here.