Sailing schoolboy may abandon plans to round Horn

Mike Perham, the British teenager bidding to become the youngest person to sail around the world, may be abandoning his plans to round Cape Horn and instead make his circumnavigation via the Panama Canal. Blogs on the website of the 17-year-old from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, have twice mentioned the canal in the past week.

His father, Peter Perham, writes today: ‘Is Mike going around Cape Horn or through the Panama Canal? Well, as we don’t have to make a final decision until he is half way across the Pacific side of the Southern Ocean, we are going to keep our options open. However, I can assure you, he will only be going around the Horn if a really good weather window opens up as this would be preferable to the likely lack of wind that Mike will have to endure as he approaches the canal. I am told some people have been stuck for weeks! And then he could be knocking on the door of the Caribbean hurricane season.

‘What is interesting, is that most people have only ever sailed in the summer and have no experience of the winter say “you should only go in the summer” and then there are those few who have sailed in the winter are generally saying “go for it”.’

Last weekend, Peter wrote: ‘We continually take advice as to the time of year Mike will be rounding the Horn. This is constantly under review. However, the local knowledge tells me that the good thing about going ‘late’ is that the weather systems are much more predictable than in the summer. Yes, the wind strengths and sea states are a bit bigger, but with more notice of patterns this can be a big advantage, especially as Mike can generally dodge the worst.

‘I am told the risk of encountering ice is lower in the winter than in the summer.

The alternative is to go through Panama. However, the best place to sail single-handed is well off shore with less to hit. I am always more anxious when I know Mike is near shipping lanes or land.’

Mike is currently stopped at Hobart, Tasmania, while repairs are made to the rudder of his boat, Seals and bearings were being flown in from France and the plan was to fit them this week so that Mike could set off again this weekend.