Helmsman Brian Thompson, who had already sailed around the world three times, talks about the record-breaking 29,002-mile sail.
A Banque Populaire helmsman on the record-breaking 29,002-mile sail.
by David Browne
On January 6, the Banque Populaire V, a 131-foot-long trimaran, broke the record for sailing around the world, completing the journey in 45 days — two days under the previous record, set in 2010. Starting in France, the crew sailed below most of the continents. We spoke with Brian Thompson, a 50-year-old British helmsman who had already sailed around the world three times.
What was the roughest part of the trip?
The South Pacific sounds lovely and warm, but there were miles of icebergs — including a few larger than pyramids. When it got dark, we had to keep lookout with an infrared camera. Then there’s Antarctica, where there isn’t anyone within 2,000 miles. If you capsize, there aren’t any ships to rescue you.
What kind of clothes did you wear?
You can’t wear a down jacket because there’s a lot of spray in the air. But the temperatures can get down to near freezing. After 10 minutes outside, your hands start to hurt, so you wear layers of thermals.
How did you relieve stress?
Listening to music. If the sea is rough and fast, I play classical music. If it’s smooth sailing, I turn on some dance music to keep energy levels up. Magellan probably had a fiddle.
This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Men’s Journal.