Solo sailor Stanley Paris fell and injured his ribs while pulling down a torn headsail on New Year’s Day. The 76-year-old is attempting to become the oldest person to sail around the world single-handed and nonstop in a self-imposed time of 120 days.
Paris’ 63-foot custom yacht, Kiwi Spirit, was several hundred miles east/southeast of Rio de Janeiro when the accident occurred.
“While pulling on some pieces stuck in the shrouds, one piece suddenly gave way, and I fell flat on my back onto an extrusion of the deck,” Paris blogged. “The pain just below my left scapula was as much as any pain I have ever experienced. I lay still for a few minutes testing my lungs and then started to get going. I could feel a rib cracking in my back. Crawling was out, as my left arm could take no weight. A few more actions, and I collapsed for several hours in the cockpit.”
Paris left St. Augustine, Fla., on Dec. 2 aboard Kiwi Spirit, which was designed by Farr Yacht Design of Annapolis, Md., and built by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in South Thomaston, Maine. His circumnavigation officially started when he passed St. David’s Light at the eastern end of Bermuda on Dec. 7. His aim is to beat Dodge Morgan’s time of 150 days, set in 1986-87 — at the time the fastest solo nonstop circumnavigation.
A New Zealand native, Paris has recovered somewhat from his injury and is heading in a southeasterly direction toward the Cape of Good Hope, his first waypoint. At 30 days into the journey he is about on par with Morgan’s position but has been mired in variable winds and a calm.
“Power management is a real challenge,” Paris wrote in his most recent post. Kiwi Spirit is equipped with hydro and wind generators and a large array of solar panels to produce all of the required electricity from renewable energy. “I have shut down my refrigerator and everything else that I don’t need.”
Paris’ son Alan, who finished the Around Alone single-handed race around the world in 2002-03, told the New Zealand Herald that he has been in touch with his father and believes he "fairly significantly" damaged his ribs. It’s not clear whether Paris, a physical therapist by profession, can continue without making port to repair sails and furling gear or to seek medical treatment.
Cape Town, South Africa, could be his only option because “past the Cape of Good Hope it’s like a point of no return,” as one ocean racing veteran put it. “It’s very hard to turn around or reach safe harbor. It is also very difficult, long and expensive to get rescued, if needed.”
In other solo-sailing news: Canadian Glenn Wakefield, who set out from Victoria, British Columbia, last September for his second attempt at sailing west-about around the world solo and nonstop — against prevailing winds — had to divert to Fremantle, Australia, after discovering damage to his standing rigging. On an attempt in 2008, Wakefield had to abandon his boat after it was severely damaged and he was injured in a knockdown off the Falkland Islands. The Argentinian naval vessel Puerto Deseado rescued him.