HomeGlobal Solo ChallengePeter Bourke : “Imagine Sailing Around the World”

Peter Bourke : “Imagine Sailing Around the World”

Global Solo Challenge

When I spoke to American Global Solo Challenge (GSC) entrant Peter Bourke, he told me that he had recently acquired a secondhand Finot-Conq designed Open 40 for the challenge.

Built by JMV Industries in France in 2001, this design of boat is predominantly built of carbon composites and has proven to be really exceptional in terms of performance, quality and realiability.

A fast pure-bred racing yacht with good upwind performance, this yacht will undoubtably be one of the quicker yachts that leave from A Coruña in the Autumn of this year, and given that the start is staggered according to the boats anticipated performance, it is anticipated that this boat will not depart until October time.

The yacht that Peter has acquired is now called ‘Imagine’ (his wife’s suggestion) though it was previously called ‘Anasazi Girl’, and the previous owner had used her as a Globe Trotting liveaboard for a couple and their three very young children. Indeed it was only on the birth of their last child that they decided to sell their yacht, as it was getting too cramped.

Peter Bourke moored
©Peter Bourke


I must admit, that an Open 40, designed predominantly for ocean racing, would not have been my first choice as a liveaboard, even without children, though Peter did say that at least this boat came equipped with a sink (later models dispensed with such a luxury).

Peter was born in Essex, England before his family emigrated to the USA when he was young. He later served in the American Marines Corps and completed a tour of duty in Vietnam, serving in Da Nang.

At this stage his seafaring experience was limited to crossing the Atlantic on a liner as a child, and being ferried back to America from Vietnam by the American Navy. Though on these trips he saw sailing boats and this kindled some interest.

Peter enjoyed a later career in investment management and for 18 years owned an Outbound 44, which he raced as well as cruised, covering over 33,000nm in her. During this time, his best result was a class win in an edition of the Bermuda 1-2. He later raced against the GSC founder Marco Nannini in the 2009 OSTAR (Solo Transatlantic race).

©Peter Bourke


During the crossing of the Atlantic, Peter initially lost his electric Autopilot and later he lost the rudder to his Hydrovane. This meant sleep was virtually impossible, as when he did so, the yacht seemed to steer itself back towards the start of the race in England.

Peter admits that he learnt from the problems that he faced in that race. Knowledge that he hopes will stand him in good stead in the GSC.

Peter finished the course, within the set time limit but admits that Marco beat him.

Peter went on to write an acclaimed book, ‘Sea Trials’ based on his experience, and how this experience related to his life.

With Peter’s permission I would like to introduce you to a piece of the text, which I found particularly beautiful:

“To be at sea is to be in a different world, and to live alone for a time in this alien place can yield a spiritual calm. . . . In such a calm, order and perspective can enter your thoughts. Life can be harsh at sea, but it is never sordid. The simple necessities of food, drink, and sleep are received with gratitude, and always there is the sea’s reminder that you are a speck of dust in the cosmos. The rush of thoughts slows, and order replaces the chaos as you consider your journey.”

Peter pointed out that all the profits from this book are donated to the Semper Fi fund, an orgnisation, which helps injured Veterans and their families.

When he entered the GSC, Peter had initially thought about using his old yacht, a cutter called ‘Rubicon’, but decided that the refit that would be required to get her to the Category 0 standard, with the insertion of watertight bulkheads etc. would be too great a project, which is why he decided to buy a yacht that was already built for sailing short-handed in the Southern Ocean.

Peter Bourke Imagine popa
©Peter Bourke


‘Imagine’ was lying in Trinidad when Peter bought her, and he recently enjoyed a 10 day sail up to Charleston, South Carolina aboard her, and she is currently being refitted in a yard there.

During this sail, Peter tried the freeze dried food that he will be consuming during the GSC. I asked him about these and he immediately stated that they were somewhat better than the ‘C’ Rations served by the American Navy.

He plans to finish the refit of his yacht by the end of May and then complete the 2,000 mile solo qualifying sail, by crossing the Atlantic to deliver her to Spain, to arrive well before his planned departure for the challenge, which he anticipates will be in October.

Peter hopes to fulfil any last small projects whilst in A Coruña and plans to enjoy some time relaxing in Spain before the challenge.

We talked about the actual challenge, and at one point, when he was describing his yacht and how she will handle with her speed and upwind capabilities, I commented, “That sounds like it will be fun.”

“Dave” Peter replied,” when I am soaking wet and cold being thrown around the Southern Ocean, I will remember that Dave said that this would be fun.”

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