A young solo sailor almost home after 260 days round the world dismasts off Devon

A young Danish yachtsman sailing solo non-stop round the world was dismasted in the English Channel last week on the final stretch of his voyage back to Denmark. Christian Liebergreen had been at sea for 260 days and was less than 600 miles from his home port of Skagen when the mast of his 35ft yacht broke off the Devon coast.

While we were watching Indian solo sailor Abilhash Tomy and Chinese yachtsman Guo Chuan to see which of the two would be first to finish their non-stop single-handed circumnavigations (they both finished in the last week, in that order), a reader got in touch to ask did we know the first to finish might, in fact, be Danish sailor Christian Liebergreen?

I hadn’t heard of Liebergreen before. The 28-year-old, pictured below, left Skagen in Denmark on 18 July last year without fanfare on a completely unsponsored voyage. He was sailing Jonna, his family’s Sagitta 35, a 40-year-old cruising yacht, and was updating his progress regularly on a small personal website in Danish.


Liebergreen was, at that stage, in the final few hundred miles of his journey. He rounded Ushant and was on his way up the English Channel. But then, unbelievably and very sadly, on 3 April with less than a week to sail until reaching home, he was dismasted.

“It happened at sunset. The wind was about 20 knots,” he told me. “I had gone below to boil water for supper when I heard a smack. I knew what was happening, but I hoped it wasn’t true. The mast had cracked and fell over and bent at the deck.”

Liebergreen called home and cut all the wires and rope. He later discovered that one of the terminals had failed.

He was about 12 miles south of Brixham at the time, having gone inshore looking for flatter water in the east-north-easterly winds. Torbay RNLI was called to assist him and towed Jonna into Brixham. At that stage, they reported winds of Force 6-8 and “nasty seas”.

It was the end of a long and lonely journey for Liebergreen, who says that for up to three-month periods in his voyage he had seen no ships or planes. He has technically completed his round the world voyage after crossing his outbound track in the Channel, but it really is a sad and premature end to the journey.

Liebergreen hopes to get a new mast stepped in the UK and once Jonna is re-rigged he is planning to sail back home to Denmark.