After 131 days and 20 hours, a delighted Emma Richards completes Around Alone - and swears she'll never do it again
After a long and frustrating day spent hunting a fitful breeze, Emma Richards sailed Pindar into Newport late this afternoon to complete her solo round the world race in 131 days and 20 hours. And with that, she vowed she would never do it again.
Emma has sailed a skilful race in a boat that was never destined to match most of the competitors for straight-line speed. Hers was a last-minute entry, and from the beginning she maintained that her main objective was to complete this race.
This she has now done and her 4th place overall in class belies some great performances as well as demonstrations of fine seamanship in ferocious conditions. One thinks particularly of the 60-plus knot storm she raced through in Biscay to emerge in 2nd place.
“I can’t believe that I’ve managed to circumnavigate the world on my own,” she said. “That is what I set out to do when I left here and I’m thrilled to bits that I’ve done it.”
Emma’s entry in Around Alone amazed people who knew her and had previously heard her swear never to race solo. Race chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston asked her if she had changed her mind now. She was unequivocal: “I still believe it’s not my game at all! It’s great to do one solo round the world, but that’s my last. Maybe one more transatlantic. That’s it.”
In spite of her elation, Emma admits to feeling disappointed at losing 3rd place overall to Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti by going in what turned out to be the wrong direction after leaving Brazil. She is philosophical, however. “There were times when I was doing well. I’ve been on the podium since leg 1, and to have lost it on the last leg is disappointing. I lost it at the beginning with an initial decision, but I’ve had three weeks to think about that, and I’m not disappointed any more.”
“I’ve got here in one piece, my rig’s still up, the boat’s still in one piece and I’ve got lots of friendly faces around me, and that’s the most important thing.”
Sir Robin congratulated her on “a real moment of personal triumph and a fantastic effort,” and added: “There’s about one tenth of the number of people who have sailed single-handed round the world as have climbed Everest, so you’re amongst a very special group of people now. Of that about 120 people who’ve actually got round the world, you can’t count on the fingers of one hand the number of ladies who’ve done it, so that’s even more special.”