How many people have ever sailed solo round the world? Meet the likely 200th and 201st

Sailing solo round the world: commonplace, do you think? Maybe a bit unremarkable given that these days there been so many solo races?

You could be forgiven for thinking so, but that’s very far from the case. A solo circumnavigation is arguably the ultimate expression of self-sufficient seamanship and endurance, just as it is (for many) the ultimate expression of pure competition and a pinnacle of semi-masochistic adventure.

And the fact is that sailing single-handed non-stop round the world continues to be a very rare feat. To date, only 199 people in history have ever accomplished it. With good reason: the mammoth skill and arduousness of keeping a boat going in all conditions without any help.

As to who will be the 200th to manage it, there are two contenders right now, both out there with the aim of becoming the first in their respective nations to gain that honour.

Guo Chuan, 47 (pictured top), a former aerospace engineer, is the first professional offshore sailor in China and took part in the 1996 Clipper Round the World Race and the 2008/8 Volvo Race. He left Qingdao in November in a Class 40 yacht and passed through the Sunda Strait in Indonesia today on his way back to Qingdao.

If all goes well, he is likely to complete his voyage shortly before Indian sailor Abilhash Tomy (pictured below), who is at the latitude of Madagascar on his way back to Mumbai. Tomy, a Lieutenant Commander in the Indian Navy is on course to complete the first ever non-stop solo circumnavigation by an Indian sailor in his 56ft Van de Stadt sloop Mhade.