Jon Sanders – with whom I’m currently sailing double-handed from Tasmania to Fremantle, sailed a triple nonstop solo circumnavigation which has been ratified by the Guinness Book of Records:
To view his complete BIO and CV visit: www.periebanou2.com/
How better to describe the man than with this ABC News Transcript:
Jon Sanders still sailing strong at sixy-six *(he’s 70 as of 2010 & just completed his 7th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race).
Reporter: Layla Tucak
REBECCA CARMODY: Now to another sport – sailing. Most people would recognise the name Jon Sanders; he’s a yachting legend who’s circumnavigated the world seven times in solo expeditions and made his way into the “Guinness Book of Records”. This year, he celebrates 50 years as a member of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, and, only a few weeks ago, he turned 66, but, as Layla Tucak discovered, Jon Sanders isn’t ready to abandon the helm just yet.
LAYLA TUCAK: What are some of the biggest waves you’ve seen?
JON SANDERS (Sailor – Adventurer): In the far southern oceans, if you get a strong wind, you’ll get a wind-wave, which can be up to 30 or 35 feet high. Every now and again one of those will meet another. They combine in height – that’s little – but all of that’s riding on a joint swell. So to be elevated 100 feet is quite possible and probably was.
LAYLA TUCAK: Have you ever been elevated that high?
JON SANDERS: I suspect so.
LAYLA TUCAK: In sailing circles around the world Jon Sanders is a legend.
You’ve been in various Sydney to Hobarts. You’ve circumnavigated the world three times non-stop – a huge feat. What do you regard is your greatest achievements in sailing?
JON SANDERS: Well, I suppose the greatest moment was after 658 days – when you go months at sea without getting off the boar to arrive in Fremantle, you can imagine what the experience is just to come home let alone the reception once there.
LAYLA TUCAK: He circumnavigated the world seven times in yachts, received accolades for his endeavours and even made it into the “Guinness Book of Records”.
JON SANDERS: My own experience is that – not only myself but with other people – that if you ever lock onto an idea, lock onto it, you’ll generally achieve it.
LAYLA TUCAK: But where did this passion for sailing come from?
JON SANDERS: I was born in Perth, brought up on the University of Western Australia here, on the campus. My father was an academic. I first went sailing with the Sea Scouts here, and then as a teenager with the Naval Reserve Cadets.
LAYLA TUCAK: It wasn’t always his calling. In his teens and twenties, Jon Sanders travelled to the bush and worked with shearing teams.
JON SANDERS: I was actually a wool classer- shearing contractor. And I worked as an overseer in a shearing team, then I owned my own shearing team. I did that for 17 years.
LAYLA TUCAK: But while he enjoyed the station life, the calling of the sea eventually became irresistible.
JON SANDERS: When I gave up the shearing to go yachting, sailing – long distance sailing – that’s when I sort of dropped out of a decent income, but I’ve had a good time since.
LAYLA TUCAK: First there was his solo circumnavigation in 1970s, then there was his double, and a few years later his triple, not to mention another single around-the-world trip, numerous racing events and other long-distance sailing ventures.
What are some of the more torrid times you’ve had?
JON SANDERS: I copped a cyclone in the eighties, which damaged “Nuku’alofa”. I had been twice upside down in the yacht. I expected that to happen that day. Didn’t know what would happen, and a boat without any sails up at all, the mast just lay on its side, and the bilge, which is normally at the bottom of the boat was, on the side of the boat. So that was an apprehensive day.
LAYLA TUCAK: Did you ever have any experiences where you thought, “This is it; I’m not going to get out of this one”?
JON SANDERS: No, but probably the worst was, I hit a trawler off the Falkland Islands – a fairly substantial one – and that gave me a great big scare. It was blowing about 25 knots, about five degrees temperature. Hit the thing, and it must have been surprising for them because it was virtually winter in May down there.
LAYLA TUCAK: Yes.
JON SANDERS: Near 56 south – to have a yacht sail out of the dark, prang them, bounce off and sail away again.
LAYLA TUCAK: The boat was the “Parry Endeavour”. It’s now on display at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle. It’s elevated on the exact angle it would have been on riding some of the larger waves. Such great adventures have been published in books.
BOOK EXCERPT: “While on the foredeck we glimpsed in the predawn light a monstrous wave terrifying in its very proximity, descending on his sleep with a thunderous roar. He grabbed the mast and hung on for grim life as it cascaded over him, seemingly bent on prizing him from his yacht. Back in the cabin a few minutes later he wrote with shaking hands, “Obviously the fiords of Tierra del Fuego caused tidal currents which make the ocean great. It’s all very frightening.””
LAYLA TUCAK: Luckily he was able to weather that and many more storms to come.
What are the more beautiful sights that you’ve seen.
JON SANDERS: After you’ve been in cloudy more windy sort of weather for it to suddenly become blue sky, fine right out to the sea glasses you find that’s nice because you can get around the boat and do a few things and it’s pleasant. But I suppose one of the interesting things is after days and days and literally months at sea to come round Tierra del Fuego, which is Cape Horn, it’s rugged, but you can see all the snow-capped mountains in the background, which is interesting.
LAYLA TUCAK: No matter how beautiful the sights were, though, it was still good to come home, especially after his triple circumnavigation.
JON SANDERS: As you go for weeks and months, each section was a project in itself, like Cape Horn would be next, maybe the equator next and so on. But as time drew near, as you were coming across the Indian Ocean, well you’re counting the weeks and months down on getting home. And of course, as you come home there, first of all I saw the Bond building. That was new. When I first saw it over the horizon I thought it was a ship, then as you got nearer and nearer, the more and more boats appeared on the horizon out of nowhere.
LAYLA TUCAK: What is it that attracts you to sailing, and particularly that long-distance sailing?
JON SANDERS: Why do people climb mountains? Why do people follow the AFL? Why do people go horseracing? Same thing.
LAYLA TUCAK: And what did he do with his time on those trips?
JON SANDERS: I had my reading material. I had a lot of tapes, had some movies till the television set carked it. [Laughs.]
LAYLA TUCAK: Do you regard yourself as a loner? I mean, you must like your own company.
JON SANDERS: I think I’m a bit of both.
LAYLA TUCAK: You’d think with all that time at sea, he’d be a rather good fisherman. Not so.
JON SANDERS: Actually, probably could go in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for trawling the line the most thousands of miles and catching nothing.
LAYLA TUCAK: Now Jon Sanders spends his time ferrying boats for people around the world. Just a few weeks ago, the veteran seadog turned 66. And he’s already preparing for his next adventure – his sixth Sydney to Hobart yacht race. He will be teaming up with young solo circumnavigator David Dicks, among others.
JON SANDERS: I think that the youngest and oldest in that Hobart race will be very, very interesting.
LAYLA TUCAK: Do you see yourself as somewhat of an eccentric
JON SANDERS: Ah, well, the media used to, which probably normal people say, “You’ve got to be mad.” And I used to think, “Well, how do I answer that?” And I thought, yup, and if I’m not, I’m sure it’d be helpful.