They call it the “microcruising phenomenon,” and it encapsulates that strange urge to take on the ocean with boats, often self-built, that at most reach 18 feet, but much more often do not exceed 10. To wit, Alessandro Di Benedetto, who solo circumnavigated the globe nostop on a Mini 6.50, is already at a quota limit-although his record appears destined to remain in the annals for a very long time. With the addition, it is worth remembering, of a broken tree repair carried out alone in the middle of the ocean. Hulls, then, aboard which one can barely lie down.
“But absolutely safe boats, they are like ping-pong balls in the sea, they never break,” says Sven Yrvind, who of the “microsoldiers” is the veteran, not only because of his seventy-five years of age, but also because he was the first, back in 1980, to pass Cape Horn on Bris II, a 5.90-meter he built.
A challenge that earned him a medal from the Royal Cruising Club; an accolade that people like Robin Knox-Johnston have received in sailing history. And who is now preparing to circumnavigate the globe on a boat three meters long and 1.90 meters wide, which will be a true survival cell.
NAMES YOU DON’T FORGET
British and Americans are the most present among the microcruisers. Like Shane Acton , who between 1972 and 1980 circumnavigated the globe with his fiancée aboard Shrimpy, a 5.50-meter boat, via the Panama Canal. But the first man in the world to cross the Atlantic on a 10-footer was Tom McClean (the year was 1982). Not content with that, he decided to cut it down to only 7.11 feet: he thus succeeded in making a second transatlantic. But the one who most struck the general fanaticism was Tom McNally. An American, nicknamed “Crazy Sailor” by his countrymen, he sailed his six-footer Big C across the Atlantic from West to East for the first time in 1983. What made him a legend in the States and beyond, however, is not this successful feat, but his second failed attempt aboard a hull of only 3.1 feet.
Taken from the October 2015 GdV