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U.S. Sailor Takes on Challenge of a Lifetime
While the rest of the country is gearing up for New Year’s celebrations and finalizing 2011 resolutions, Annapolis resident Ryan Breymaier is preparing for his first-ever circumnavigation around the world as a participant in the double-handed Barcelona World Race.
The event, sailed in super-light, highly technical IMOCA Open 60 monohulls that have few design concessions for comfort, starts its second edition this December 31 and is scheduled for a finish late next March after 15 teams representing eight nationalities complete 25,000 nautical miles (46,300 km) around the globe.
Born in Washington, D.C., and a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland (1997, BA in Economics), the 35-year-old Breymaier essentially relocated to France four years ago with his wife Nicola to pursue his life-long dream of racing in the IMOCA Open 60 Class. The extreme sport of short-handed sailing is dominated by Europeans, and many of them, such as Loick Peyron, Alex Thompson, Michel Desjoyeaux, Dee Caffari, Jean Le Cam, and Jean-Pierre Dick, are headlining in the Barcelona World Race and are nothing short of national sports heroes. But all that does not phase Breymaier, who will be the only U.S. entrant in the event, sailing with Boris Herrmann of Germany on Neutrogena. In fact, he embraces his position as an up-and-comer and hopes his journey can be an inspiration to other U.S. sailors to rally behind or try short-handed sailing.
“Over here, I’m now known as the young American pitting himself against the European legends but being encouraged by them at the same time,” said Breymaier, who has earned his stripes working for Neutrogena’s previous owner Roland Bilou Jordain, who sailed the boat in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race and in the Vendee Globe as Veolia Environnement. “I love the boats, I love the racing, and I love the challenge,” he added, noting that in 2009 alone, he logged 20,000 miles on the boat, delivering it to various ports and competing in the Istanbul Europa Race (a crewed race around Europe) with Jordain.
The Barcelona World Race is the only race of its kind in the world and follows the Great Circle route (the shortest possible route traced across the map) past three capes: the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. Rounding any of the three is a badge of significant merit in the sailing world, but rounding them with only two sets of hands to manage a 60-foot boat and without the choice of holding back for severe weather may be the greatest challenge for entrants in the Barcelona World Race.
For perspective, 11 crew members man the Open 70s used in the Volvo Ocean Race, another high profile and particularly grueling around-the-world competition. “We have 10 less feet of length but nine less people on deck to do all the work,” explained Breymaier, adding that to make things even more complicated, the IMOCA Open 60s are designed principally for single-handed competitions (the VELUX 5 Oceans Race, the Vendee Globe and Route du Rhum being the best known of those) and are known for their operational complexity.
“The Barcelona World Race will be an ideal opportunity for me to challenge myself physically and mentally,” said Breymaier. “It will also give me the incredible chance to test myself against the best sailors in the world and to advance my skills and knowledge as a sailor, navigator and tactician.”
Co-skipper Boris Herrmann was involved in another circumnavigation of the globe in 2008/09 when he competed in the Portimao Global Ocean Race, sailed in Class 40s, and became the first German skipper to win a major short-handed ocean race. “It is an extraordinary challenge, as much physically as mentally,” he said, talking from experience. “The IMOCA Open 60s are the most advanced monohulls you can race two-up, and the Barcelona World Race is simply one of the toughest races in existence.”
Going up against a playing field of seasoned veterans and taking on one of the biggest challenges in extreme sports today is no easy task, but Breymaier and Herrmann are fully prepared and pushing at the gate. If all goes well, theirs will be a very happy New Year.
Competitors in the Barcelona World Race will follow the Great Circle route past three capes: the Cape of Good Horn, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. The course, which begins and ends in Barcelona, spans 25,000 nautical miles.
The IMOCA Open 60 Neutrogena is in Barcelona preparing for the December 31 start of the Barcelona World Race.
(from left) U.S. sailor Ryan Breymaier (Annapolis) and co-skipper Boris Herrmann of Germany will take turns steering Neutrogena in the Barcelona World Race, the only double-handed race around the globe.
(December 10, 2010)
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