Sailing schoolboy's troubled wake


The remarkable voyage of Mike Perham is continuing to make waves, on land as well as at sea. The 16-year-old who left Falmouth on 18 November, sailing a complex racing machine: the Open 50 on his own, was hoping to become the youngest non-stop circumnavigator.

He was plagued with autopilot problems and stopped twice: once in Cascais,Portugal and the second time in Las Palmas in the Spanish Canary Islands, trying to sort them out. That put an end to the non-stop part of his record.

Undaunted he battled on – and from his emails – it was clear the youngster was enjoying the time of his life. But all was not well back ashore. Rod Carr, the CEO of the RYA was reported as saying that he had tried to dissuade him from leaving before he had more experience. And Ellen MacArthur’s business partner Mark Turner said he had a ‘frightening lack of training’ and his father was ‘naive’ when it came to safety.

Now shockwaves of a different kind are being produced by Mike’s skimming hull. He is just hours away from Cape Town where he is to stop in order for a new rudder bearing to be fitted. In port already is Mike’s rival, Zac Sunderland, the US teenager who is also sailing around the world solo hoping to be the youngest so to do.

When YM contacted Mike’s PR man Nigerian-born Kizzi Nkwocha, the former News of the World reporter told us there were no plans for the pair to meet and that none were to be initiated, although Perham would not be prevented from meeting Sunderland should he so desire.

After duly reporting this, Mr Nkwocha, is now refusing to tell YM of Mike’s ETA in Cape Town. Indeed he told our Deputy Editor, Perry Cleveland-Peck to ‘F*** off’.

This is puzzling as the Perham family need all the publicity they can get: already Mike’s father Peter has told YM that he is struggling to meet his son’s expenses from his salary as a London-based quantity-surveyor. And the news that Mike’s publicity spokesman is biting the hand that could victual the voyage will not come as welcome news to his main sponsor,

However relations remain as civilised, cordial and helpful between YM and Peter Perham as they have ever been.

Perhaps the Perham team’s outgoings could be reduced by handling their own publicity.