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Bruce Schwab Talks About Solo Sailing

Bruce Schwab Talks About Solo Sailing
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Bruce Schwab is only the second American to single-handedly sail nonstop around the globe, a distinction he earned in 2005 when he became the first American to complete the 27,000-mile Vendée Globe sailing race aboard his 60-foot sloop, Ocean Planet. Bruce, who turned 46 this year, lives in Woolwich, Maine, near Casco Bay, which is home to Dodge Morgan, the first American to complete a nonstop solo sailing circuit around the world (20 years ago, in April 1986).

On Adventure Sailing

When you mention sailing in the U.S., what do you think of? America’s Cup. That’s all there is. People don’t think of adventure racing. But it’s extreme, it’s adventure, it’s individual.

Solo racing is growing rapidly now. I run into people all the time who tell me that we’ve gotten them really excited about this. There’s an awareness of it, and the number of people who want to do it is growing. It’s the whole idea of individual competition and adventure. And some people are a little tired of the classic blue-blazer crowds and the rich guys arguing about the rules.

It’s not like I dreamed of doing a round-the-world solo race when I was young. It’s something that just built up. We all wonder how competent we really are, and we’re looking for ways to prove it to ourselves. I recognized that I wasn’t really an ace in any particular field of sailboat racing. I was never going to be an Olympic gold medalist tactician or drive an America’s Cup yacht. But I could do it all.

On Going It Alone

I’m also a solo guitar player. Even though I enjoy playing with others, most music I’m happy to play by myself. I don’t know if that means I’m a loner or a narcissist — maybe it’s somewhere in between there.

On Training

You don’t just jump into the Vendée. You won’t have a chance of finishing. So the Around Alone [a solo race with stops that he completed in 2002-03] became a necessary stepping stone. And it was an epic adventure: On the first leg, the boom broke, which sort of set the tone for the race. I wasn’t in competitive mode, but survival mode. I wound up finishing last in Class 1 — it wasn’t like I set the world on fire. But finishing was a big achievement.

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