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Big adventure, little boats

FEB. 1 — Four adventurous sailors — three Americans and one Brit — have signed on to compete in a new and unique ocean race. While there are several races around the world sailed in high-tech speedsters like the Open 60, the Around in Tencircumnavigation will be attempted in 10-footers.

The rules, decided by the racers, state that the boat must be exactly 10 feet in length, and any rudders, spars, self-steering gear or other protrusions beyond 10 feet must be removable. The single-handed race is restricted to monohulls and is open to anyone who wants to take part.

Scheduled to start in the Bahamas in January 2009, the race is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete. The sailors can take any route they wish, as long as they make stops in Panama, Darwin (Australia), and Cape Town (South Africa) before finishing back in the Bahamas. The fleet will be shadowed by a support boat, a 38-foot steel ketch.

While the three Americans reportedly have extensive sailing experience, the British entrant cited aviation as his primary hobby on the race Web site. “I fiddled around trying to build my own helicopter, but this was, up to now, not a great success,” he writes in his biography. “Building my own sailboat was ‘that second dream,’ but for one or another reason, I never got started on one until I heard of the Around in Ten.”

— Rich Armstrong