Gardner LaMaurice, who will turn 25 this month, is now the youngest entry so far in the Global Solo Challenge 2023-2024. With his entry the young American wants to break the stereotype of sailing only being accessible to rich retired people and hopes to inspire others to follow his example. Gardner was already in the process of preparing his boat to complete a circumnavigation when he discovered the GSC and decided to enter. He believes that the added motivation of an organised event and a framework of regulations to comply with will make his project safer. As organisers we are very pleased to welcome Gardner in the GSC, The event strives to provide a format where budget and type of boat are not of primary importance to be able to participate and, why not, even do well. Staggered starts will even out slow and fast boats and the final result is very difficult to predict.
Accessibility and inclusion are core values of the event which does not wan to be the preserve of the elite circle of professional sailors only. We could never have imagined we could get 48 entries, and several further skippers are in the background trying to put the project together and announce their entry. Getting to the start is as much a “war of attrition” as the circumnavigation itself will be. Skippers may drop out before the start or retire during the event, but with such a strong list of entries the GSC will surely be a popular and exciting event to follow.
Where does your passion for sailing come from?
My passion from sailing comes from the fact that I have been sailing all my life. I’ve been in and out of several hobbies and adventures but through it all for the last 13 years I have been sailing. It grew more and more on me as I went along to the point that it took over my life. It’s one of the most satisfying things a man can do. That feeling of freedom when you cut the engine and are going the same speed powered only by the wind is indescribable to someone who has never done it. The feeling of leaving a port to stay at anchor for days on end in the middle of nowhere, or at a mooring some guy has told you about, or to go on a lengthy race, again, is indescribable. I guess my passion comes from the freedom you get.
What lessons have you learned from sailing?
Never underestimate anything. The moment you feel like you know everything you’re doing and you are confident is when you’ve doomed yourself. You have to always stay vigilant and be ready for the unknown.
What brought you to like single-handed sailing?
I started off my career as a solo laser racer so I’ve always been accustomed to juggling several things at once while steering on my own. Then once I started jumping up to big boats, it was just natural for me to immediately figure out how to do everything on my own. I hadn’t done a lengthy cruise with crew until 2022, prior to that it was all single handed. I love single-handing because even more so than being a captain, you have complete control of your boat. Nobody else is limiting you, it’s all on you.
What prompted you to sign up for this event?
My ultimate goal in life is to sail single-handed around the world. As I was doing my research into getting gear for my own solo circumnavigation I discovered this race. I figured that doing it in an environment where I am surrounded by other racers going the same route and people tracking us is the safest way to do it. Do I hope I win? yes. Do I expect to? HAHAHA! We’ll try. I’m doing this for the experience of a lifetime.
How do you plan to prepare for this event?
I will be spending the next year and half installing necessary equipment and sailing sailing sailing. Great lakes, Caribbean, Atlantic crossing. Any other opportunities I can get my hands on. I want to get another 5-6,000NM offshore before the race starts.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge will be dealing with the unknown. You can prepare as much as you want but you never know what will happen. 8 or 9 months straight is hard on a boat and things are sure to break. How I deal with those issues and move forward is going to be the biggest challenge. A lot of this race is who can push their boat to the finish, and that’s what I plan to do.
Tell us about your boat or the boat you would like to have.
I have a Caliber 33 that I bought with the idea of long range and short range cruising in mind. It has a short but long inlaid fin keel that although uncomfortable to some, is strong enough to stand up to anything the ocean throws at it. Caliber has a great reputation for solid build quality and I will be making modifications to install an inner forestay and will be bulking up the standing rigging for this race.
Do you intend to link your personal challenge to a social cause?
My social message has to deal with the accessibility of sailing and breaking the stigma of sailing. As a college dropout I should not be able to do what I am doing here, owning a boat, competing in a race, having financial security while doing so. By finishing this race I believe I can provide a pathway for others to get into the sailing world who may not have thought they had a chance to otherwise. If they can see me, an average man on an older boat that I’m sure costs much less than most of my competitors, doing a race around the world, hopefully it will inspire them to also do great things on a sailboat.
Decorated laser racer for 10 years, I have been sailing all my life.
About the Boat
Boat name: TBA
Project: Caliber 33
Sail number: TBA
Upwind sail area: TBA
Downwind sail area: TBA