27 October 2016: Inmarsat pays tribute to world record-breaking sailor Guo Chuan, following his tragic loss at sea during his latest challenge.
Among the many sailing achievements racked up by the 51-year-old are two world bests – the 40ft solo non-stop circumnavigation world record set in 2013, and the Arctic Ocean Northeast Passage non-stop sailing world record set in 2015. Inmarsat partner Beijing Marine Communication and Navigation Company (MCN) supported Guo with mobile satellite connectivity on both challenges.
Our relationship with Guo dates back to the Volvo Ocean Race of 2008/9, when he was the onboard reporter for the Green Dragon team, and became the first Chinese to complete the round the world adventure. This was all the more remarkable given he had never even set foot on an oceangoing yacht until he was 33.
Since then, his sailing achievements have made him an iconic figurehead in his country, and won him the accolade of Chinese ‘peace champion’ for Peace and Sport, a global initiative which works to promote sport as a tool for peace.
Inmarsat Chief Marketing Officer Chris McLaughlin, who is responsible for the Volvo Ocean Race partnership, said: “I first met Guo on the Green Dragon Volvo campaign. He had never been offshore, barely spoke English and yet had the courage to do the unthinkable as a Media Crew Member.
“A brave and generous man, he told me then of his intention to go to the dangerous extreme of sailing single handed around the world. And with Inmarsat on board, supported by our maritime partner MCN, he became the first Chinese to achieve the goal.
“Guo continued racing and always put his trust in Inmarsat. We have lost a friend to the sea. Guo, your friends mourn your loss and celebrate your achievements.”
Guo Chuan’s latest challenge was an attempt to beat the non-stop trans-Pacific world speed record. At the helm of his super trimaran Qingdao China, named after his home town, he set sail from San Francisco for Shanghai on 18 October.
Just before his departure, Guo said: “We have been working hard for the past two weeks to refit the boat and finally today I am going to set sail. I am pleased that Qingdao is fully prepared. I am very confident to go now. See you in Shanghai within 20 days.”
MCN fitted the 29m boat with Inmarsat FleetBroadband and an IsatPhone 2 satellite phone so Guo could keep in close contact with his challenge team and, through social media posts, update supporters around the world.
The alarm was raised by Guo’s team on 25 October, one week into the 7,000nm crossing, when he failed to make a scheduled call to them, and satellite tracking showed the boat was moving much slower than expected. Search and rescue launched an airborne operation after the boat was found abandoned.