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Peter Bourke is the First American to Enter the Global Solo Challenge

Peter Bourke global solo challenge
Image courtesy Global Solo Challenge

With growing interest in the event, over 80 skippers from 25 nations have enquired about the Global Solo Challenge. Peter Bourke from Newport RI is now the 5th confirmed entrant with more announcement of entries to follows in the coming days.

Peter Bourke is the first American entry in the Global Solo Challenge. Crossing the Atlantic on a ship at the age of 6 left a lasting impression on him of being at sea. Peter took up sailing much later in life at his own pace but has since competed in many editions of the Bermuda 1-2 race and in the OSTAR 2009.

Where does your passion for sailing come from?

I experienced my first transatlantic passage when I was six. That passage was on an immigrant ship, not a sailboat, but it left an indelible impression of being at sea. My first – and only – transpacific passage occurred when I was a 19 year old marine being ferried home from Vietnam by the US Navy. No sailing on that trip either, but on both of those passages I remember seeing sailboats as the ships neared coastal waters and thinking that perhaps one day I would learn to sail.

What are the lessons you learnt from sailing?

I’m sure I’ve yet to learn all the lessons from sailing, but the one that always comes to mind is the way it forces you to deal with the realities that exist, to be in the moment. No part of the enterprise will end well without looking at the facts – weather, equipment issues, tides, et cetera – as they are and not as you’d wish them to be.

What brought you to like single-handed sailing?

I’ve been reading sailing books since my English grandmother gave me a book on racing dinghies when I was five. Some years later I devoured the books of the single handers from Joshua Slocum to Naomi James. Their stories suggested great challenge and incredible beauty, and those impressions created many years ago have been confirmed every time I’ve done an ocean passage.

What prompted you to sign up for this event?

In rather an odd coincidence, I’d been pondering the fact that there was nonsolo, non-stop, around the great capes yacht race that was open to the type of boats that make up most of the fleet of seagoing yachts when I discovered the Global Solo Challenge. I was tempted to sign up immediately, but following the advice of the writer Jimmy Breslin, who observed that “the test of a good idea is how it looks after the hangover wears off”, I delayed until the new year. The idea still appeals!

How do you plan to prepare for this event?

Carefully, thoroughly, and hopefully economically.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

I should probably list the southern ocean as the greatest challenge, but at this point I consider getting to the start line with all the checklists completed as the main challenge.

Tell us about your boat

My boat is an Outbound 44, a cruising boat designed by Carl Schumacher and built by Outbound Yachts. It’s the only boat I ever bought new, though she will be almost 20 years old at the start of the race.

Yes, I think those sailors who ‘sail for a cause’ add an extra level of meaning to the endeavour. That said, I’m not sure at this point how that connection will evolve for my effort.


Boat Name: Rubicon
Sail Number: USA 115
Model: Outbound 44 by Carl Schumacher
Year built: 2004
Group: TBA
LOA: 45
Displacement: 12,728 kgs
Upwind sail area: 100.61 m2

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