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Guo gunning to go global in 60-footer

Updated: 2013-10-30 07:41
By Sun Xiaochen in Shenzhen ( China Daily)

Just six months after finishing his solo voyage around the world, Guo Chuan, the first Chinese to compete a 138-day nonstop circumnavigation and the first man in the world to achieve it on a class-40 boat, is anxious to get back on the water.

"Life goes on every time a sailor returns from a trip and the next challenge will always be there as sailing is a life-long pursuit," Guo told China Daily during the 7th China Cup International Regatta in Shenzhen on Saturday.

Guo's next challenge is to compete in the Barcelona World Race, a nonstop two-crew regatta, which sails 60-foot boats about 46,300 km around the globe, starting in December.

Sailing with a partner might ease the loneliness, which almost pushed Guo to give up during his solo trip, but building chemistry between them provides another challenge.

"You have to spend more than nine months with another guy, whom you don't know before, in an unknown adventure on a vast sea.

"Anything could happen out there if you can't pull it together.

Guo gunning to go global in 60-footer

"Finding the right partner is like getting married. The chemistry is even more important than skills," said Guo, who also became the first Asian to finish the Volvo Ocean Race in 2009.

Meanwhile, steering a boat 20 feet longer than the yacht used in his last voyage will require a higher fitness level for the 48-year-old.

"I have no advantage in age or physical status compared with younger sailors, but mental toughness is my strength," said Guo.

That strength was honed through years of overcoming fear and helplessness since his maiden sail from Hong Kong to Sanya, Hainan province, in 2001.

In 2008, Guo stepped aboard the Green Dragon as a media crew member, expecting a wonderful journey in his debut Volvo Ocean Race. But the language barrier, lack of professional knowledge and cultural differences with a foreign crew combined to break his spirit, triggering a serious case of claustrophobia.

The dark side of sailing made Guo realize the sport requires much more than he expected.

"I didn't understand what they were saying, couldn't do my duty at all. I couldn't even smile or sleep and just struggled to make it," said Guo, who made it to the stopover in his home city Qingdao by taking antidepressants.

But by sticking it out to the end, Guo said he achieved self-redemption and the tough journey prepared him for future challenges.

"After that trip, I sort of fully understood the sport of sailing," he said.

"It's not only about glorious returns but about challenging yourself to the limit and getting upgraded inside."

(China Daily 10/30/2013 page23)

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