Pensioner begins bid to break Ellen's record

After the longest standby in history, British yachtsman Tony Bullimore set out from Hobart on the Blue Ocean Wireless Round the World Challenge late yesterday, Monday 30 April, still hoping to break the 70-day barrier for sailing solo non-stop around the world. click here for previous story 

Sailing his 102ft catamaran Doha, the 68-year-old yachtsman crossed the start line between The Iron Pot Lighthouse and Pearson’s Point marking the entrance to the River Derwent, at an effortless 16 knots, to quickly leave the flotilla of spectator craft in his wake.

Bullimore’s team of helpers from the Bellerive Yacht Club, onboard to help hoist Doha’s giant sails, had to wait three hours for the winds to fill in before completing their job and jumping ship to a fast adventure ferry. In the end, Bullimore had to accept a tow from the World Sailing Speed Record Council start boat, simply to get his engineless multihull close to the start area.

But the winds filled in at 1530 local time, Doha’s big headsail was unfurled, and Bullimore took off for the line chased by a fleet of fast pleasure boats, and he was on his way. Doha was timed across the line at 0550 GMT (1550 local time) speeding through the flat seas at 16 knots. Within minutes, she was topping 21 knots in just 18 knots of breeze.

The forecast last night was for winds to build to 25knots, gusting to 35knots which could prove something of a baptism of fire for Bullimore at the start of this 70 day challenge. ‘It is lucky that I have a full moon tonight which will help me to get acclimatised, but Wednesday could bring even stronger winds as I head down around New Zealand’s South Island.’ He said via satellite phone. ‘I plan to throw in a couple of reefs later this evening in preparation for these stronger winds, so that I am fully prepared.’

With Bullimore’s track record, whether he’s truly fully prepared for his quest, and to complete the voyage this late in the season, is still much under debate. We’ll keep you posted on the ups and downs of his next few months here.