David Dicks on delivery with Jon Sanders & the finish when he broke my record.
In December of 1995 upon reaching Durban on the eastern sea-board of South Africa from Hawaii after five-months and 11.700 nautical miles at sea, I had nearly reached my circumnavigation halfway mark in Cape Town.
It was in Durban, that a single-handed cruiser – American Steve Way aboard “Look Far”, told me he’d met two particular sailors on the beach for a barbecue/party in Cocos Keeling a few months before. These two yachtsmen were the West Australians – Jon Sanders and David Dicks. Jon Sanders had become the first to circumnavigate nonstop twice and then broke his own record in 1988 by sailing a nonstop triple circumnavigation from Perth – just 81,000-miles on the odometer! He has seven round the world ‘laps’ all up.
His young protégé was then 16-year David Dicks who’s dad Harold Dicks had been a famed Royal Flying Doctor in West Australia but who’d passed away while David was still young. Jon took David under his wing as a surrogate father and mentor. David had done thousands of miles in yacht deliveries and several Sydney Hobart races with Jon by the time he stepped ashore in Cocos Keeling. What Steve went on to tell me was after they’d run out of rum Jon had taken the Zodiac across the lagoon to look for more grog.
Steve learned David hoped to attempt the youngest circumnavigation record. We didn’t yet know about each other but I had passed thru Cocos Keeling twelve-days before they’d arrived! About the same time Steve told me about that encounter while in Durban, I saw a write-up about David Dicks in Cruising World magazine.
I was suddenly in a race as David had left several months before on a solo nonstop attempt and was a thousand miles from Cape Horn in May (mid-winter). He planned to round the antipodal mark of Perth which was Bermuda in full cyclone season and finish back in Australia before his 18th birthday.
Well – I’d have to keep the afterburner lit to stay in front and to finish first. On the one-hundred year anniversary of the first ever solo circumnavigation of the world by American Joshua Slocum in 1895-’98, we were in a global race to become the youngest circumnavigator, one going east and the other west.
And if that isn’t ironic enough, a 14-year-old Japanese boy had borrowed his dentist’s 30ft yacht and was becoming the youngest ever to cross an ocean by sailing from Japan to San Francisco! A six-page feature article titled –“The Young & The Restless” in the November 1996 issue of Cruising World magazine profiled each of our stories in a comparative fashion.
I finished on September 28th, 1996 to become the “1st-Sub-Age-21” solo sailor to lap the planet but just forty-eight days later, David arrived to break my record while becoming the youngest nonstop solo circumnavigator. The outright youngest record has since been broken twice in the years to follow but David remains the youngest nonstop solo circumnavigator.
That title is currently under threat by 16-year-old Australian sailor Jessica Watson who I had the pleasure to have lunch with in Sydney in March, when she considered crewing with me on the delivery of the Spencer 65 “Ragtime” from New Zealand to LA. She is now halfway thru her record attempt from Sydney and should finish in four months time to claim the youngest circumnavigation record.
Jon Sanders and I are nearly finished delivering his S&S 39 “Perie Banou 2” home from the 2009 Sydney Hobart Race and are leaving Albany tomorrow on the final leg around Cape Leeuwin to Perth, where I look forward to meeting our shore-side manager – David Dicks!