Youngest person to sail round Britain back at Hamble Point
1,600 miles solo on board his boat Alchemy
Family, friends and the press were waiting for 15 year old Timothy Long as he arrived at Hamble Point Marina yesterday, having sailed solo around Britain.
Long’s arrival on his Hunter Impala 28, Alchemy, makes him the youngest person to complete this epic 1,600 mile journey, beating the record set by Tom Webb aged 17 who sailed round Britain in 2011. “It’s pretty great, yeah,” he says of his new record.
Sponsored by Musto, Giga Turbines, Fox’s Marina and Hythe Sailing Club, Long had never sailed more than 40 miles on his own before. Speaking to MIN, Long says the most challenging part of the trip was learning to handle the boat, and himself, single-handed. “Due to lockdown I missed pretty much all my training time on Alchemy, and in fact the first time I sailed her alone was the day before I set off from Hamble. So, I had to learn on the trip about the correct sails to use and when to reef. Then there was making sure I eat and drink enough, especially on the longer passages,” he says.
In terms of sailing, two passages stand out. The first was from Troon to Stranraer – I set off with a forecast for a steady force 5, which quickly rose to a force 6-7. I was amazed how Alchemy handled the conditions so well. Then from Milford Haven to Padstow – 17 hours in thick fog where I could barely see a boat length ahead of me…that wasn’t much fun.
And was he lonely out there on his own? “Not at all. Of course when it’s just you, the boat and the sea, you feel alone, but not lonely. In any case, I often had wildlife for company – dolphins, seals, birds, even a pilot whale at one point.”
A great achievement for someone so young, but for Long, the record is not important compared to his primary aim for the voyage: raising money for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a charity dedicated to helping young people rebuild their lives after cancer.
Ellen MacArthur became his sailing inspiration after reading her books when he was 12 years old. Writing to the long distance yachtswoman via her charity, Long asked if he could volunteer but was told he was too young. The staff at the Trust did, however, send him advice on how to get more involved with sailing. Advice he obviously heeded, broaching the subject of sailing round Britain with his parents when he was 13. “When he first thought about going round Britain he was just 13. He said he wanted to do something to test himself,” says his mother, Sue Elder.
Motivated to raise money for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust through his endeavours, Long has currently raised over £8000 for the Cowes based charity through his fundraising page. Speaking to the Isle of Wight County Press, MacArthur comments: “It is an incredible achievement for anyone to sail single-handed around the UK, but to do it at 15 is something else. The legacy of what he’s done will be far-reaching in terms of helping to change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer.”
Now home, Long’s thoughts turn to what he’ll do next. “My immediate plan is to focus on my GCSEs which I take next summer. Ultimately, my aim is to pursue a career in sailing, so I’ll be working out how best to achieve that.”