Tough luck halts quest

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Physical therapist, university founder, solo sailor and adventurer Stanley Paris has been thwarted again in his attempt to become the oldest person to sail around the world single-handedly and without stops.

This time it is a rip in the mainsail that is forcing the 77-year-old to retire by putting into Cape Town, South Africa, where he is expected to make port about New Year’s Day.

About a year ago Paris abandoned his first try, also in Cape Town, because of injury and technical problems on Kiwi Spirit, a Farr-designed 63-foot racing/cruising yacht that Lyman-Morse built in Maine.

It is a powerful and technically advanced but complex boat that features a retractable keel, water ballast and several renewable energy systems, such as solar, wind and hydro generators. One of Paris’ goals was to demonstrate that such a voyage can be made without relying on fossil fuels.

“Once again my attempt to complete a solo circumnavigation has come to an end,” Paris blogged from Kiwi Spirit. “On Xmas Eve the top quarter of the main sail separated along a seam from the rest of the sail. This is not repairable by me at sea, and given the gales I can expect before I round the tip of South Africa, it is once again not advisable to continue.”

Had Paris succeeded, he would have supplanted Japanese sailor Minoru Saito as the oldest solo nonstop circumnavigator. Saito completed eight solo voyages around the planet, including a nonstop attempt that he finished in 2005 at the age of 71.

“This is, of course, is a big disappointment to me and to many who have wished me well,” Paris continued. “But that is life. I have never let difficulties get in my way of trying something worthwhile. I am always aware that failure can occur, but I have never let the fear of failure deter or prevent me from trying. To do so would be to accept mediocrity, and that I will never do.”

According to the tracker, the position of Kiwi Spirit at 1 p.m. on Dec. 27 was 35 degrees 51.40S, 013 degrees 32.73E WSW of Cape Town. The yacht was making 6.4 knots over ground on a heading of 68 degrees.

Paris said that once he is in South Africa he will undertake repairs before having the boat sent back to the United States.