Ryan Finn Sails 22,500km from New York to San Francisco

On April 22, Ryan Finn completed a 22,500km solo sail from New York to San Francisco. The 43-year-old left Brooklyn on January 19 and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge 93 days later, an average of 241km per day.

This is Finn’s second attempt at this route. He originally undertook the famous clipper route in January 2021. Damage to the hull forced him to stop after just 24 hours. An experienced sailor, Finn had over 180,000km at sea and 20,000km in this specific boat, so he was shocked by what happened.

“The damage was a surprise, but also a good revelation for preparing another attempt,” he said.

Photo: @2oceans1rock

 

This time, Finn made it clear that he was attempting to break the record for the fastest non-stop solo journey along this route. “I am pretty confident that this can be done,” he told Sail-World before setting off.

Repairs foil record try

Unfortunately, he had to stop in Brazil and Patagonia to make repairs and collect spare parts. He missed the record by 13 days.

The route is not an easy one. Cape Horn, in particular, is known for its difficulty.

Even passing the notorious cape did not give him rest from the difficult conditions. “It’s been very tricky getting this far,” he said. “It promises to be harder for at least the next three days. I’m already tired.”

Later, as he made his way north from Chile, he again alluded to how exhausting the entire journey had been. He worried about being becalmed too often. This had happened part of almost every day since he set off.

“Normally that would be frustrating, but in this case it’s dangerous. I have a narrow window and I don’t need to be sloshed around in a windless hole for hours, as I was last night and the night before.”

Photo: @2oceans1rock

 

Smallest boat to succeed

Although he missed the solo speed record, he achieved an extraordinary feat in the world of sailing and ocean sport. He set a record for the smallest boat to ever attempt the route. His 11m proa Jzerro weighs just 1,450kg.

After his initial attempt, Finn added a water filtration system to the boat to reduce its overall weight. About his boat choice, Finn told Latitude 38, “I chose a proa because I believe they are structurally more reliable than a trimaran or catamaran and much faster per foot than a monohull of comparable length.” He wanted to prove that such a boat was suitable for a long solo trip.

After leaving New York, Finn sailed south toward Bermuda and past Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. He then made his way around Cape Horn and into the Pacific Ocean. From here he sailed northward, along the west coast of South America and Central America toward San Francisco.

 

The clipper route

The clipper route, sometimes called the Golden Route, was initially used by clippers during the gold rush of the 1800s. In 1854, Flying Cloud completed the journey in 89 days and eight hours. This record stood for 130 years.

In 1989, Thursday’s Child finished in 80 days 20 hours. Since then, the route has seen many record attempts. The fastest known time currently stands at 43 days and 38 minutes.

Even though it is a popular route in the sailing world, only two people have tackled it solo: Finn and Philipe Monnet. Monnet sailed a trimaran and finished in 81 days.

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK. She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans. Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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