Australian sailor Alex Whitworth visits the RORC to chat about his 34,000-mile journey 5/4/06

Winner of the RORC Seamanship Trophy, Australian Alex Whitworth was gracing England’s shores once again. But this time he left his 33ft sloop Berrimilla behind.

Alex and his mate Peter Crozier’s amazing voyage in Berrimilla began after racing in the Sydney Hobart Race 2004-05, continuing on to Falmouth via the Falkland Islands to compete in the Fastnet Race and then back to Australia in time for the Sydney Hobart Race 2005-06 once again. But there’s no rest for Alex as last week he visited the Royal Ocean Racing Club to give a talk on the ups and downs of their epic adventure and provides sailors with handy tips and advice.

Standing in the plush confines of the RORC, Alex spoke to the crowd with humility in his voice and a sparkle in his eye.

Quoting from John Slocum as an inspiration, Alex gave advice to others who were thinking of setting out to circumnavigate the world. “This is all you need,” he said, holding up his diagrams of global weather patterns. “Gotta work out if it is feasible and if it’s feasible do it.”

It was a night of show and tell. Alex passed various objects around the audience like the broken wind indicator, the robust latch from which the liferaft was mysteriously wrenched from when Berrimilla was in the Atlantic Ocean, the trusty Swiss army knife, and other essentials such as a dog bowl to eat from, freeze dried gourmet curries and memorabilia from NASA from Alex and Peter’s encounters with the space station.

With the help of dramatic slides, Alex told a captivating story of storms and knockdowns. “In the Southern Ocean we dived down to 50 degrees and got the sh** knocked out of us, I saw 16 knots on the GPS, they were big waves – I didn’t dare look again.”

Another incident was when Peter went overboard near the Equator. The difficulty of trying to get Peter back in the boat was a big lesson, Alex explained.

It was a rewarding experience for Peter and Alex to sail home through Sydney Harbour to friends and family with the three race flags flying. And even though the recent Sydney Hobart was as Alex described “a horrible race”, Alex was proud of their efforts, as he said: “Getting back for the Sydney to Hobart wasn’t a bad thing to do.”

Read more about Alex and Peter’s account in the May issue of Yachting World out 13 April. To subscribe click here. 

The numbers
34,000 miles sailed – 2,000 racing miles
258 sailing days
Avg 5.49kts
3 stops
800 sail changes
1 course of Dr Gordon’s elixir every 1,600m
1 daily consultation with Doctor from Dublin (Guinness)
700 log entries