HomeGlobal Solo ChallengeThree Global Solo Challenge competitors set sail

Three Global Solo Challenge competitors set sail

The fleet at sea grows

On Saturday, October 21, three more solo sailors began their adventure in the Global Solo Challenge: William MacBrien, a Canadian skipper, on the Class40 Phoenix (formerly SecHayai); Pavlin Nadvorni, a Bulgarian skipper, on the Farr45 Espresso Martini; and Ari Känsäkoski, a Finnish skipper, aboard the Class40 ZEROChallenge (formerly Fuji). In A Coruña, amidst white clouds of cumulus and cirrus layers that decorated the sky like brushstrokes, the sun peeked out, blessing the departure of the three competitors. A brisk and cool northwest wind blew around fifteen knots, and temperatures were still reasonable, around 12-15 degrees Celsius.

William MacBrien, aboard Phoenix, appeared in high spirits and was the first to cross the starting line. He was followed by Josh Hall on a dinghy, his project manager and experienced sailor, who had helped him prepare his project up to the departure day. The boat was ready and tidy, and the skipper was in good shape, although William had to set off with a black eye and a cut lip due to an accidental fall on a mooring line the day before, but nothing serious.

The Canadian skipper chose a conservative sail setup for the start. Phoenix sailed with its staysail and a mainsail with one reef, looking a bit underpowered in the big swell persisting from the previous day’s storm.

Phoenix ©globalsolochallenge


Second to cross the start line was Pavlin Nadvorni aboard Espresso Martini, also relaxed, eager, and ready for a long time. After years of preparation and commitment, he couldn’t wait to start. Being on the starting line of the Global Solo Challenge for this sailor, who has invested so much in achieving this dream, was already a victory in itself.

Espresso Martini was set with a full mainsail and genoa, and Pavlin quickly gained speed, rapidly taking the lead among the three departing competitors.

Espresso Martini ©globalsolochallenge


For Ari Känsäkoski, aboard ZEROChallenge, the last days before the departure were hectic, finishing many last-minute tasks. However, he managed to leave just fifteen minutes behind the others, taking some extra time to load and arrange the last items and bid farewell to many friends and his extensive team that had supported him in Spain. Once at sea, ZEROChallenge quickly found its pace, catching up to Phoenix in no time.

Ari, although sailing the same type of vessel as William, chose a more aggressive sail setup than the Canadian skipper. ZEROChallenge sailed with its solent and one reef in the mainsail.

ZEROChallenge ©globalsolochallenge


The departure went smoothly, although the residual swell from Friday’s storm was quite pronounced. After passing the breakwater, the skippers headed north, facing waves of at least three meters which however did not stop their progress. These conditions weren’t the easiest or most comfortable to face on their first day at sea. It takes each skipper several days to get organized after setting off and to adapt to life at sea.

In A Coruña, many friends and relatives were present to bid the sailors farewell, while others chose to say their goodbyes at home before the sailors embarked on their journey. Only one friend from London came to see off Pavlin. The Bulgarian skipper had previously stated that he doesn’t like departures but prefers arrivals. He looks forward to reuniting with his family, who are following his journey from home, and his team, which had to return to the shipyard Pavlin owns.



As for William, his partner Stephanie shared that she too doesn’t like departures and preferred not to witness the separation moment, watching him sail away, which would have been quite distressing for her. Thus, she chose not to join him in Spain, confident he would receive the needed support from Josh Hall during this crucial time.



Ari received help in his final days of preparation and was supported at his departure by a team of about seven or eight people from Finland and other friends. They assisted him in hoisting the mainsail and bid him farewell from shore since, due to a slight delay, they couldn’t get on the organization’s rib.



All the skippers of other boats already in A Coruña were emotionally involved, awaiting their own departure in a week and, along with their teams and other well wishers that had gathered, they positioned themselves on the breakwater and the elevated base of the green lighthouse to get a good view from land. Out at sea, there was a cameraman aboard the organization’s rib capturing footage and photos, despite the difficult conditions on the waves.

The creator and organizer of the GSC, Marco Nannini, commented, “I am pleased and satisfied to see three competitors start well and as planned. Next week we will witness the most significant departure, with eight skippers at sea. All boats are already at Marina Coruña, almost ready. The only exception is Kevin LePoidevin, an Australian skipper, who just left Falmouth, UK, and is expected to arrive on Wednesday. Everything seems to be going well for the October 28 departure, although two threatening low pressure systems are heading towards Europe, and it’s still unclear if there will be a favorable window to set sail and safely pass Cape Finisterre. Departures are never postponed; it’s up to the skipper’s responsibility to decide whether to leave or wait. It’s an evolving situation.”

To stay updated on the competitors’ positions, the tracker is available on the GSC website: https://globalsolochallenge.com/tracking/ or by downloading the “YB Races” app, which allows you to track positions from your phone.

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