Dirk Gunst is 38th Global Solo Challenge entry

Dirk Gunst is 38th Global Solo Challenge entry

Belgian Dirk Gunst from Ostende has an impressive sailing experience both cruising on long distance passages and racing in the double-handed Round Britain & Ireland and Azores and Back Race and Single-handed in the OSTAR 1996 and 2000.

Dirk estimates that in his lifetime he has clocked in excess of 300 thousands miles at sea having started as a very young boy to go fishing with his dad. He will sail a proven offshore racer cruiser by X-Yachts. At 55ft he is also the the largest boat entered so far, although not a light displacement racing hull.

He defines the Global Solo Challenge as climbing “Our Mount Everest without Sherpas” (the guides or carriers hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas) with a reference to the reduce budget required to take part in the event. In fact Dirk “soon realised one can go bankrupt without being sponsored” after having done some offshore racing in the 90’s.

Where does your passion for sailing come from?
I started going at sea on my father’s motorboat that was used as a pleasure fishing craft (with nets) in 1963. Ever since 1967 I’ve been constantly teaching sailing, training both with dinghies and offshore and ocean going yachts.

What lessons have you learn from sailing?
One cannot possibly foresee all the situations that can happen at sea. You can play chess (trying to predict the following steps), use the sea (waves, wind, currents) as an alley… but at the end of the day the sea is always the Master. So stay humble!

Image:  Patricia - Sail Number: BEL 777 - Boat design: X-55 (Niels Jeppesen)


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About Global Solo Challenge:

A unique format

The format is unlike any other round the world solo sailing event and will make it fair and exciting for the Skippers as well as easy and engaging for the public and sponsors to follow:

A wide range of boats can enter – 32 to 55 foot.

Boats will be grouped by performance characteristics and set off in successive departures over 11 weeks.

Once at sea, there are no classes. All boats will be sailing the same event. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest aboard and a fascinating event for the public and sponsors.

The first boat to cross the finish line wins. The performance differential between the boats is taken into account in staggering the departures, eliminating the need to calculate corrected times.

Global Solo Challenge - Course
All entries will have a chance of winning – dramatic from beginning to end

It will feel quite daunting and emotional to be among the first skippers to set off. Equally it will be nerve wracking for those with a long wait before their departure.

The last skippers to set off will have to keep cool waiting for their turn to start the chase.

The faster boats will need to sail fast and well to make up for the head start given to the slower groups.

It will be the ultimate enactment of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, with steady cruisers being chased by performance thirsty skippers on faster boats.

Who will cross the line first?