Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

How did you know the bird was an albatross?

Dear Isabella, The fist time that I sailed into the Southern Ocean, I had a book about seabirds, and, of course, it had pictures of the birds, and descriptions of their behavior, and so i was able to identify the albatross. Plus I had a shipmate, Bill Biewenga, who...

read more

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

What would you do if there was no wind?

Dear Ethan, If there is very light wind, we have sails that will work in those conditions, and so we just keep going. If there is actually no wind at all, then the sails can't do anything with that, so the boat stops, the autopilot alarm goes off because it needs some...

read more

Do you fish on your boat?

Dear Ileana, No I don't, and I don't think any of the other skippers do. Mostly it is because the boat is going too fast to fish, and also because even if you caught a fish, then you have to filet it and cook it, and it is too time consuming to do that for the race. I...

read more

Q&A with Joff Brown
Boat Manager for Great American IV

Are there any sources of heat on Great American IV?

Hi Cassidy and Vera, Thanks for your question. There is no heater on Rich's boat. He had one on his boat in the 2008 race and thought this time he could do without. The engine does generate some heat when he runs it to charge the batteries but he does this only once...

read more

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

Q&A with Experts

Q&A with Joff Brown
Boat Manager for Great American IV

How many pounds can your vessel hold?

Hi Jennifer, Thanks for your question. The boat weighs around 8800Kg (19,400lbs). Because it is a racing boat the aim is to carry as little weight as possible, as opposed to a commercial ship which wants to carry as much as possible. The lighter the boat is, the...

read more

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

What is your favorite food on the boat? Why?

Dear Cheol, My favorite food onboard is probably the granola and raisins I have for breakfast. It's my favorite for several reasons. First, it tastes good! Second it is very nutritious, with a variety of grains in it. And third, it is according to my Mother's recipe,...

read more

Are you losing weight?

Bonjour Flore, I'm not sure if I'm losing weight since I don't have a scale on the boat. I know that my arms are getting stronger, but as is usual, since there isn't the chance to do a lot of leg exercises, my legs are probably atrophying a bit. All the solo sailors...

read more

Have you gone though any storms?

Dear Liv: Yes, we have been in some storms in this race (we had some severe squalls the first night) and then we have a storm to the south of us now that is quite severe. It is why I chose to stay north for a bit, to let the storm pass to the south of us. In the past,...

read more

At home or at sea — which do you prefer?

Dear Chengfang: It's unusual, when I'm on land, sometimes I dream of being at sea. Yet when I'm at sea, especially if its bad weather, I dream of being safe on land. Right now the boat is going so fast, and bouncing around so much, that I wish I was on land. But at...

read more

How do you sleep and steer the ship at the same time?

We have a device called an autopilot which will steer the boat while I am asleep. In fact it steers the boat most of the time that I am awake also! The autopilot has an electronic compass. And it is also connected to the wind instruments. So I can set the autopilot to...

read more

Can Women participate in Vendee Globe ?

Yes. This, I believe, is the first Vendee Globe without a woman skipper, and it's unfortunate. There have been great women skippers, like Catherine Chabaud, and Anne Liardet from France, and Samantha Davies and Dee Caffari from Britain. Samantha and Dee were in the...

read more

Did you have any difficulties in the race?

Dear DoJoon, We have had several repair jobs on the boat so far. Each takes time away from sailing/racing the boat, and yet is essential to correct. We had to replace a batten car (where the mainsail attaches to the track that goes up the mast). And had to repair a...

read more

I noticed that your lung peak flow has increased significantly from 59 to the high 80s, and that it is consistently greater than 80 more than three weeks into the race. To what do you attribute the improved performance of your lungs?

Dear Neal, I think that there was some reaction I had to some of the area near where we stayed before the start. Plus there was a lot of stress, and stress is a trigger for my asthma, just as smoke, or cats/dogs, trees/flowers, are. I was quite tense for the weeks...

read more

Q&A with Experts

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

Have you ever seen a Hammerhead shark while at sea?

Dear Alex, No, I've never seen a hammerhead shark at sea. I actually haven't seen many sharks at sea, just very occasionally. We see a lot of flying fish in the tropics. The boat is now covered in scales and bits of flying fish that mistake Great American IV for a...

read more

What would you do if there’s a storm?

Dear Timothy, I look at new weather forecasts at least twice each day, and so hopefully will have advanced warning of a big storm. With that, I can then prepare. I can take down and put away any really big sails that we may have up, and I can prepare the smaller sails...

read more

What kind of books do you like to read?

Welcome to sitesALIVE! I like to read biographies of accomplished people (for example, Abraham Lincoln), and also histories of certain events. I remember reading The Path Between the Seas, by David McCullough, about the building of the Panama Canal while we were...

read more

Q&A with Experts

experts-composite3

What is it like to live on the ocean?

It is very different to life on dry land; there isn't anyone around us, we are really alone; it is a moving environment unlike terra firma, so the boat moves all the time and we always need to put away our things so they don't fall and be ready to move, etc. We are...

read more

What kind of medicine do you take with you?

Hi Tanja's class: Rich has an extensive medical kit on board Great American IV that includes supplies to treat wounds, burns, infections, sea sickness and pain. We can’t pack a lot of medications into the kit, so we select medications that can serve more than one...

read more

How would you recommend that one prepare for and be well informed about piracy when sailing off shore? Specifically I’m thinking about the eastern Caribbean, but I’m interested in the oceans beyond as well.

Good Day Dave, Sadly piracy problems can occur anywhere at any time as even away from the well-known areas, there is still a mob of enthusiastic amateurs.  In a small craft it is virtually impossible to stop anyone boarding, given that even if you were armed, the...

read more

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

What do you eat on the ship?

Our plan is to eat 4 meals per day: once every 6 hours. Granola and milk for breakfast, then a sandwich at lunch, then a freeze-dried dinner for 2 at dinnertime, then a pasta ramen noodle brick at midnight. Plus snack around the clock, and this targets 6,000 calories...

read more

Do you get sea sick Mr. Wilson?

Usually I get seasick the first night at sea. One is tired from the preparation, and one is anxious about the challenge of the voyage. In 2008-9 Vendée Globe, I was violently seasick for the first 24 hours. Yet this time, in 2016, my stomach was unsettled, but I did...

read more

Q&A with Guest Skippers

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

Were you afraid, with all the squalls AT NIGHT ?

Dear Suer, Yes. On that first night, the wind might go from 15 knots to 25 knots in a couple of minutes, and then back to 8 knots, and then back to 25, or even to 34 knots that we saw, and then back to 8 knots. This might take place over a half hour or so, and the...

read more

How many hours you will sleep?

Dear Louison et Nans, I will try to sleep between 5 and 6 hours in 24 hours. It will not be all at once, and it is unlikely to be all at night. I have some really good stocking caps that pull down over my eyes so that I can sleep during the day! I studied with a sleep...

read more

Q&A with Guest Skippers

shiraishi_portrait_1674bd-crop

Were you afraid, with all the squalls AT NIGHT ?

It is very hard having a squall during the night. But now there is a moon, so it is easy to see the squall arriving. But when the moon is not there, it is very difficult. Then there is delayed to spot it. So I always have to be prepared for whenever it comes. Question...

read more

Q&A with Skipper Rich Wilson at sea

What do you think is your purpose for this trip?

First, one always needs a future adventure to challenge oneself, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and within sailing, Vendée Globe is the biggest challenge that exists. Second, for VG2008-9, we had a very big sitesALIVE! school program, for science, geography,...

read more

Q&A with Guest Skippers

shiraishi_portrait_1674bd-crop

What do you think is your purpose for this trip?

By doing this race I want young people of today to look at what I am doing and see what I can do for them. I want the whole world to be happy. What I can do in this race is that they can follow and see that as I am fulfilling my dream and how happy I am, that they too...

read more