Sailor of the Week - March 18 - March 24
It is possible that no sailor has ever been more deserving of the honor of US SAILING’s Sailor of the Week than Rich Wilson. Last Tuesday, Wilson and his Great American III crossed the finish line in ninth place in the Vendee Globe solo, non-stop, around the world race. He covered a grueling 28,590 miles in 121 days, 00 hours, 41 minutes and 19 seconds, averaging 9.84 knots since departing from Les Sables d’Olonne, France on Sunday, November 9th.
Often called the “Everest of Sailing”, the recent Vendee proved to be the most unforgiving yet; nineteen of the thirty skippers who started the race were forced to retire before completion. At 58 years old, Wilson was the race’s senior skipper, and he became just the second American ever to finish the Vendee Globe. He was challenged both physically and mentally throughout, sustaining a cracked rib early in the race; he faced one obstacle after another. With little opportunity for rest his concentration and threshold for pain were put to the test. Thanks to his determination, proper planning and execution, Wilson persevered through the complex weather patterns and powerful winds that pushed Great American III to the limit.
To date, Wilson owns three sailing world records, and was the 2004 recipient of the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal, one of sailing’s highest honors. Although his accomplishments in the world of high stakes competitive offshore racing are impressive and numerous, he is most proud of the impact that he has been able to make on children through various educational programs of his design. The Harvard and MIT graduate enables children to follow him on his global odysseys through 24/7 online reports, podcasts, classroom guides, and updates via the Newspaper in Education program, utilizing his sailing expeditions as a platform for a meaningful and exciting way to educate schoolchildren about oceanography, meteorology, math, and life lessons such as perseverance and focus.