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Life of Guo

By Tang Zhe | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-18 09:23

Life of Guo

Guo Chuan becomes the first man in the world to accomplish an around-the-world voyage in a Class 40 boat. Photos provided to China Daily

Qingdao's Guo Chuan recently became the first Chinese person to sail solo around the world. Tang Zhe reports that he did so in the smallest boat used in a nonstop circumnavigation.

While the Oscar winner Life of Pi was wowing Chinese audiences in November, Guo Chuan was heading off on a real-life adventure of his own in a Class 40 sailboat.

His solo around-the-world trip from his hometown Qingdao, Shandong province, began on Nov 18.

After a 21,600-nautical-mile voyage of 137 days and 20 hours, the 48-year-old returned home on April 5, becoming the first Chinese to accomplish an around-the-world voyage, and the first man in the world to achieve that feat in a Class 40 boat, the smallest boat that has ever been used in a solo, non-stop circumnavigation.

As his boat passed the finishing line and approached Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, Guo couldn't wait to jump into the cold water, swim to his wife and two sons, and hold them in his arms.

"I was very excited when I reached the finishing line, thinking, this is a dream, my dream. I wanted to shout after all the hardships I had gone through. The water was cold, but my heart was hot, and I owed my family a lot," Guo says of his return to land.

It was a tough journey, Guo adds, as he experienced equipment failures in the Pacific Ocean, had to wait for favorable winds in scorching temperatures on the equator, and was stranded without wind near the Solomon Islands.

The weather changed drastically in the Southern Ocean, where it was freezing cold, there were wild winds and the foresail was damaged. On the first day of the New Year, Guo climbed to the top of the six-floor-high mast to cut down the remnants of the sail - a dangerous act on his own.

After celebrating his 48th birthday on Jan 5, Guo arrived on Jan 19 at Cape Horn near Chile, which is notorious for treacherous winds and extreme weather. He was the first solo Chinese sailor to reach the landmark.

Unappetizing food and limited sleep were other challenges. In order to reduce weight on the boat he took mostly dehydrated food and energy drinks, using desalination devices and rain for drinking water.

"Every day I ate hydrated paste, which tasted the same and I just swallowed it as quickly as I could," says Guo, who lost 8 kg on the voyage, but was nevertheless healthy.

"I spent most of my time adjusting the sail, observing the weather, keeping up speed, and tried to work out everything else in the shortest time possible."

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