Chinese skipper Guo Chuan has set a new world record for sailing solo and non-stop around the globe.
Guo sailed back into his home city of Qingdao in Shandong Province, eastern China, today – 137 days and 20 hours after setting out in his Class 40 (12-metre) yacht, also called Qingdao.
No sailor has ever attempted a solo non-stop circumnavigation in such a small vessel.
Guo Chuan is also the first Chinese sailor to achieve the feat.
“This is an amazing achievement by Guo Chuan and we are delighted to have supported him during his record breaking voyage,” said Andrew Sukawaty, Executive Chairman of Inmarsat.
“As leaders in maritime communications, Inmarsat is proud to have been part of his team.”
Keeping in touch
Throughout his 21,600-nautical-mile journey, Guo kept in touch with his support team and family via satellite services and airtime jointly provided by Inmarsat and China Telecommunications and Information Center (CTTIC).
He was provided with FleetBroadband 250 and FleetPhone Oceana 800 terminals, Inmarsat C safety services and an IsatPhone Pro global satellite phone.
Guo used media solutions from Livewire Digital to enable him to send photos and videos via FleetBroadband for his website and press coverage.
The closing days of his epic voyage proved tough for Guo who faced 30-knots winds and possible collision with fishing boats crowding through the Taiwan Strait.
“In order to avoid being tangled with fishing nets, I had to change the yacht's direction while facing the wind.
“It's very hard and dangerous to do so,” Guo told Chinese news site People's Daily Online in a call on IsatPhone Pro.
Home in sight
“I had to watch out for fishing boats, fishing nets, wind speed and wind direction day and night – I didn't sleep in three days,” added the sailing veteran.
Guo completed the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race and also competed in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2006.
With home almost in sight, the yacht's problematic generator broke down again – leaving Guo worried that he wouldn't make it to the finish line.
But on 5 April, he sailed into Qingdao and a rapturous welcome.
Guo's voyage saw him sail east towards Cape Horn in Chile before heading for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and returning home via the Indian Ocean.
His satcoms support proved invaluable when he risked sailing into the path of Typhoon Bopha, the Category 5 super typhoon that caused devastation in the Philippines last December, claiming more than 600 lives.
With the help of meteorologist Christian Dumard, his onshore support team mapped out a safe route, transmitted via FleetBroadband.
Message in a bottle
Guo was also delighted to have a means of staying in touch with his wife and keeping up to date with news of their baby son.
But he stuck to age-old methods of communication as well – by dropping a message in a bottle at the Equator, at Cape Horn and as he sailed into the South China Sea.