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Record Australian Circumnavigation
Australian yachtsman Ken Gourlay completed his solo, non-stop and unassisted round-the-world voyage at 10.02 am on Sunday, May 6, 2007, to claim his own, unique nautical quadrella.
He has become the first Tasmanian to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world and when his time is ratified by Yachting Australia. The father of three and grandfather of two will also officially become the fastest Australian solo circumnavigator and, at 51, the oldest.
Ken is almost certain to be the highest Australian charity fund-raising around-the-world sailor when a final tally is done on his appeal for donations to the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust. So far his voyage has raised $A85,000 and Ken is hoping to reach $A150,000 when the appeal closes in October.
His first step on land after six months at sea was confident and steady. "How good can it get?" he said. "It's great to be home." His 180-day voyage just pips Tony Mowbray’s 2001 time and is well inside the times of Kay Cottee and Jon Sanders.
Ken is just the sixth Australian to complete a solo, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation and hundreds of spectators, many family members and friends, greeted him as he entered the
Later a flotilla of 25 boats welcomed him as he entered the nearly
"The whole trip was a series of high and lows and challenges," he said. Among the lows were a huge storm after passing Cape Horn and rigging problems in the
The last few weeks had also been tough. He said he'd only had about three hours' sleep in the past 48 hours as he approached
As he came along the Tasmanian coast there were ships and fishing boats to watch for something he’d only encountered occasionally on his 24,000 nautical mile trip that included Christmas at
During the voyage he says he averaged around five hours sleep a day, often broken as he attended to sailing and steering his boat. "I am looking forward to a good sleep," he said.
But it was auto-pilot problems and the imminent threat of his mast collapsing that provided the biggest challenge of the voyage. Shortly after a knockdown off the
Later he found broken strands on the cap shroud on the same side. "When I got to the bottom of
"I thought, I could go into the
Living with the sea provided many experiences, he said. "A really big storm just after
The highest wind speed he recorded was 74 knots and during a storm approaching
"When you're in the Southern Ocean coming east and you look back and the sun's setting and there's big rollers and they're curling, the water is transparent and aqua blue ... it's the most magical thing you can ever see."
Sometimes the waves were a danger to the boat. "The waves break, they roll, and then there's the couple that break in the boat and they hit the back of the cabin.
"I think there were about four that I can remember that were just awesome.Like being rear-ended at the traffic lights by a Mack truck ... they hit and the boat went from six knots to about 15 knots."
Ken was involved heavily in the design and construction of his yacht, the 12.5m yacht Spirit Silver Edition, and said the boat proved itself all the way through the voyage. "We had some hairy times, don't worry about that," he said.
Ken Gourlay is a Launceston businessman who with his family, wife Wendy and grown-up children Adam, Tristan and Carly, owns and operates a floor covering outlet and is the Immediate Past Commodore of the Tamar Yacht Club.
He has more than 60,000 nautical miles of sailing to his credit, starting with sabots at the Tamar Yacht Club in the early 1960s. He has since sailed several
He is a line honours winner of the