Chris Stanmore-Major is certainly one of the most experience skippers to join the Global Solo Challenge to date. Several other competitors can boast a previous circumnavigation but he probably has clocked the most miles at sea. Chris skippered Quindao in the 2009/2010 Clipper Round the World Race. The following year Chris took part in the Velux 5 Oceans on one the most proven Eco 60s yachts there were around for the 2010/2011 edition.
After growing up in Pignton on the English Riviera at the age of 18 he became a tall ship rigger ofr the Hong Kong Outward Bound School then starting his career as a professional sailor competing in every major race in Hong Kong where he was living. He captained a boat for the Hong Kong team in the 2008 Commodore’s Cup in Cowes and also worked with the Chinese team on their America’s Cup yacht ‘Longtze’ while working as the Technical Director of Asia Yacht Services in Hong Kong.
Now based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, father of a baby boy, Chris he’s really excited about his entry in the GSC which will give him the opportunity to attempt his first solo and non-stop circumnavigation.
As organisers we are very pleased to welcome Chris in the GSC whose entry is in full keeping with the spirit of the event, with particular focus on inclusion and sustainability.
Where does your passion for sailing come from?
I first went to sea as a volunteer on the tall ship ‘Ji Fung’ at the Hong Kong Outward Bound school in 1996. It sparked in me an intense love and respect for the independence, physical endurance and mental agility necessary to cross oceans, I guess that has never really gone away.
I have skippered crewed and solo campaigns around the world, and when the going has got tough – which it has at times- I still find myself enjoying the experience of problem-solving far from land, where my actions and mine alone determines the outcome.
What lessons have you learned from sailing?
I have learned many things from sailing, some of them very basic and related directly to the task- such as ocean racing tactics, changing spinnakers at 4am on a wildly tipping deck and how to strip and rebuild an alternator.
Above these everyday sailing challenges, I have learned tenacity in difficult physical conditions, mental endurance when faced with high stress racing situations that go on for weeks, emotional regulation as I struggle to deal with sleep deprivation and above all a great appreciation for the simple things in life; a meal shared with friends, warm sun on my face and the laughs and excited giggles of my baby son.
What brought you to like single-handed sailing?
I like the independence, I like the fact that whatever the outcome, I own it. I like the physicality of working the boat, the varied nature of each day at sea as I change hats from navigator to mechanic, to writer, to electronics expert, to chef, and often to wonder our child just sitting looking at the waves in the Southern Ocean.
Above all, I like the fact that after years being extremely careful, racing with amateurs on board such boats where I need to constantly slow down, to be cautious and make allowance for my crew’s lack of experience- suddenly, when once more alone I can bring the boat’s performance up to the razor’s edge once more, and enjoy the ride.
What prompted you to sign up for this event?
Kevin Le Poidevin is already entered in the race and is one of my most loyal Patreon supporters- it was his involvement with the race that first alerted me to the event. From there I think the single thing that has drawn me in is the format of a pursuit race and the exciting realization that with Falcon I would be starting in the last group and would have so many boats ahead of me to reel in. It is an amazing and unique challenge that I think will keep me on the end of my nav station until the very end of the race.
How do you plan to prepare for this event?
The boat is pretty much ready, she needs new standing rigging, preferably a new mainsail and of course a host of smaller items / jobs doing. I intend to feature my preparations on my podcast, my YT channel and on my Patreon platform, in an attempt to share the experience with as wide an audience as possible and attract a sponsor(s) for the rigging and mainsail.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
For me the biggest challenges in offshore sailing are (in no particular order) being able to modulate performance to ensure the longevity of the equipment, being able to fix the boat and keep racing, being able to maintain mental equilibrium despite sleep deprivation and being able to stay focused on one task without becoming disillusioned for months on end.
Tell us about your boat.
Falcon is an Open 60 designed for a very specific task – to win races that include an upwind proportion. Beating is normally Kryptonite for the square backed, flat bottomed Open 60 class. Falcon is therefore exceptionally strongly built but despite the 300kgs more carbon fibre this upwind reinforcement took, she is actually faster than her sister ship ‘Spartan’ (ex. Fila) which I skippered solo around the world in 2010/11.
Falcon held the world 24hr distance record for a solo sailor in a 60ft vessel in 2000 at 438Nm/24hrs
Falcon has a fixed keel which is very unusual for an Open 60 and huge ballast tanks. This made her a potent force in the early 2000’s, with her first skipper Dominic Wavre taking 5th then 4th in the Vendee Globe (2000 & 2004) plus a 2nd in the 2006 Velux 5 Oceans race with her second skipper Kojiro Shiraishi.
Do you intend to link this personal challenge with a social message?
When we did the Velux 5 Oceans race there was a strong environmental message relating to sustainability, pollution of the oceans and renewable energy, I think not talking about these factors is almost impossible when discussing offshore sailing.
I am however, most keen to promote the area where I live here in Canada which is economically and socially depressed and yet has a fantastic maritime heritage that I know the races’ sailing audience will appreciate. I am not receiving sponsorship in anyway from the Province of Nova Scotia, but I will be proudly displaying their livery on the hull.
Offshore Races: 7x C600, 3x A2B Race, 3x Newport Bermuda, 3x Fastnet, 3x RORC Transat, 3x China Sea Race, HK-Vietnam Race, Middle Sea Race, ARC Transat, 09-10 Clipper RTW Race, 10-11 Velux 5 Oceans Race.
34 x Atlantic Crossings.
About the Boat
Boat name: Falcon
Project: Finot Conq Open 60
Sail number: TBA
Displacement: 9,500 kgs
Upwind sail area: 340m2
Downwind sail area: 600m2