The ultimate solo challenge is sailing around the world alone, and the Velux 5 Oceans Yacht Race will make Charleston its penultimate port during the 2010/2011 event. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1969, and this sailing legend visited Charleston today to promote the race and said, "This race was born in the USA and has always used an American port of call." Lowcountryoutdoors.com fondly remembers the previous contests known as the BOC Challenge and Around Alone that used Charleston for a port of call. The South Carolina Maritime Foundation and its director Brad Van Liew, a past winner of the ultimate solo challenge, are both raising awareness about the aspiring skippers preparing to undertake the Velux 5 Oceans race. Van Liew said, "This race is special because its more than the high-tech boats involved, this race is about the spirit of the single-handed sailor - it's about the heart." Two fleets of 60-foot class yachts, modern yachts and Eco-yachts (or those built before 2003) will set sail from La Rochelle, France and complete five "ocean sprints" to 1)Cape Town, South Africa 2)Wellington, New Zealand 3)Salvador, Brazil 4) Charleston, S.C. and 5)La Rochelle. For any individual, sailing around the world alone can be a physical, psychological and emotional challenge - one reserved for only the hardiest of competitors. For more information visit www.velux5oceans.com
My photos show two veterans of the ultimate solo challenge; Brad Van Liew and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sharing a laugh about which is better - a driven pheasant in England or a wild turkey hunt in the Lowcountry, and corporate sponsor Velux America President Timothy Miller (in blazer) with Velux rep Chan Hoyle of Fort Mill.