Having broken ground as the first skipper with diabetes to compete in a global solo sailing race - the 2002-2003 Around Alone - Canadian native John Dennis is set to take on the challenge again with his entry in the 2010 Velux 5 Oceans.
In the seven years since pursuing his lifelong dream of racing around the world, Dennis, now 65, has gone from managing his diabetes through diet, exercise and oral medication, to being insulin dependent, which necessitates four self-administered injections a day.
Dennis is keenly aware that circumnavigating the globe solo pushes the limits of a sailor's mental and physical abilities. But he is determined to prove that you can take on adventure and control diabetes. He also hopes to reach those who become despondent after receiving the diagnosis - diabetes is, after all, incurable - and demonstrate that leading a normal life is possible.
"My campaign is based on my being a well-managed diabetic and being able to compete because I manage my diabetes," says Dennis. "Diabetes does not manage or define me."
Billed as "The Ultimate Solo Challenge," the Velux 5 Oceans will start Oct. 17 in La Rochelle, France, with the first leg taking racers to Cape Town, South Africa. Leg two ends in Wellington, New Zealand, followed by stops in Salvador, Brazil, and Charleston, S.C., before the competitors cross the Atlantic to return to La Rochelle in May 2011. This seven-month sprint covers 30,000 miles, which Dennis will sail in an Eco 60 - a class for any Open 60 launched before Jan. 1, 2003.