“You’re only as big as the dreams you dare to live” – anon.
Who taught you to sail?
My dad. He’s been involved with sailing his whole life and as a result I’ve been sailing since I was very young.
How are you preparing for the physical side of the trip?
Well I work out a lot in order to be in the best physical condition I can be in for the trip – solo sailing is very physically demanding, so it’s important that I’m in good shape.
How do you get in the right mindset to be alone at sea for four and a half months?
Right now I’m working with a sports psychologist who is teaching me various techniques to stay focused and emotionally healthy while I’m away. As for getting ready, every day right now is spent organising things and making plans for the trip which helps me to focus on the trip ahead and get into the right mindset. I’m very excited right now and can’t wait to start!
What are you looking forward to most about the trip?
Just getting out there and doing it! The best thing about sailing is that it’s just you and nature out there. There’s none of the fast-paced, crazy existence we all live normally, so it’s just incredible to be out there with nothing to distract you from the beauty of what you’re doing.
Will you get much downtime during the trip to relax or is it full-on all the time?
There are times when there’s no time to do anything other than focus one hundred per cent on sailing. But then there are times when I’ve got more time to relax and enjoy myself. I have two i-pods full of my favourite music, and a bunch of DVDs and books ready to take with me to make sure I don’t get too bored. My school has even organised some coursework to take with me in case I get desperate!
Who is your biggest hero?
Definitely my dad. He is so supportive of everything I want to do and achieve, and he really puts me in the mindset where I can go out and live my dreams.
What would you say to all the people out there you are going to inspire with this trip?
Just go out and do whatever it is you want to do. Live your dreams every day. If you’re interested in getting into sailing, just go to your local sailing club and get involved. Sailing is often perceived as a very expensive hobby, but it’s not – there are always people looking for crews for their yachts, so you don’t need all the equipment to begin with.
What’s next for Mike?
I’m definitely already thinking about the next thing I want to do after this trip. I’ve been thinking about the Matterhorn in Switzerland… Bit of a change of scene! Beyond that I’d definitely love to be a professional sailor one day as a career.
Mike is 16 years old. He will turn 17 on 16th March 2009.
Mike attends the Oakland’s Sports Academy in St Albans, where he is studying for a National Diploma in Sports Performance and Excellence. The college is highly supportive of Mike’s trip. As he will be away for around four and a half months of term, the college has redesigned his coursework to fit with the trip, and has organised some coursework for him to take on his journey for any quiet moments.
Mike started sailing at the age of seven and has never looked back. He has completed RYA courses in dinghy sailing and windsurfing. At the age of fourteen Mike became the youngest person to ever sail across the Atlantic single-handed. He still holds that world record today.
Besides sailing, Mike is into all water sports including canoeing and wind surfing, as well as biking, mountaineering and camping, and skiing.
Mike’s family includes his father Peter, his mother Heather and his older sister Fiona.
The physical demands of sailing means that Mike will have to double his regular daily calorie intake to 5,000 calories a day. That means he will be eating almost constantly in order to keep up his energy levels. During colder conditions he will need to increase his calorie intake even further, as he will be expending a lot more energy in staying warm.
The yacht has a small galley in which Mike will be able to cook his meals, and will eat a lot of pasta and rice. Approximately two-thirds of his calories will come from specially made freeze-dried food, while the remaining third will come from tinned food.
Most of Mike’s time will be taken up with navigating and handling the boat. He will be able to sleep in short 20 minute – one hour snatches, depending on the weather and conditions. While he sleeps, the boat will be managed by an electronic auto-pilot and guided by radar. To keep up his energy Mike will have to eat every hour.
In calm conditions Mike will have time to listen to music, watch DVDs and talk to friends and family at home via his communication equipment. Hopefully he will also have time to keep us up-to-date on his travels via his daily blog.
In warmer sections of the journey Mike will be able to shower with warm water that has been heated by the boat’s solar panels. In the cold conditions he will rely on his supply of wet wipes to keep clean.