Anonymous GSC entry revealed as Australian Henry Rourke on Custom 53ft Racer

Swiss-based, Australian, Henry Rourke had been tempted by an ‘adventurer’ entry in the Vendee Globe but never saw a realistic path to making that dream come true. A couple of years back he acquired an unfinished hull and deck designed by a famous IMOCA design team, and built by JMV. The boat is due to launch in early 2023. The result is a stunning custom 53 footer with a canting keel and dagger boards. They say a project is just a dream with a set start date. With this boat and his entry in the Global Solo Challenge Henry finally had a very definite plan to finally make his dream come true: complete and launch the boat, prepare and train, and be on the start line of the GSC in A Coruña in November 2023 together with the faster boats in the fleet.


Where does your passion for sailing come from?

A more general passion for being on the water.

What lessons have you learned from sailing?

Some serious, serious respect for the sea.

What brought you to like single-handed sailing?

The simplicity (purity) that comes with self-reliance (in the moment).

What prompted you to sign up for this event?

The idea of a Vendée ‘adventurer’ entry has tempted me for quite a while. The reality is that, on multiple levels, that is unrealistic. This is probably just “less unrealistic”, but here I can at least see a path to the start line!

How do you plan to prepare for this event?

This kind of solo sailing has a pretty big ‘team’ element, so ‘we’ are getting the (new) boat ready to launch and will spend the next twelve months putting miles on the boat and the skipper.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

This sort of circles back to the ‘lessons learned’ question. The whole process and program is both hugely enjoyable and hugely demanding. It’s one big challenge made up of a myriad of smaller challenges. I guess the biggest challenge is just keeping your eye on the first ‘prize’ (getting to the start line) and eating the elephant one bite at a time.

Tell us about your boat.

I’m very lucky to have a boat that is built for this kind of race. Except maybe upwind….

Do you intend to link this personal challenge with a social message?

That’s a work-in-progress, but we will find ways to make sure we squeeze all we can out of the opportunity to add to awareness to at least two core ideas
– we can all do almost anything if we just ‘start’ and keep going (and, again, eat the elephant one bite at a time)
– nearly all significant personal achievement is a team effort

We are working to find partners for the event, because the race offers an incredible opportunity identify with such a wide range of relevant issues, from sustainability to personal achievement and it is important to make the most of that platform.

Sailing experience

Miles: uncounted.

About the Boat

Original, near-sistership, of Henry Rourke’s Custom 53


Boat name: TBA

Project: Custom 53

Sail number: TBA

Year: 2021

LOA: 53ft

Displacement: 7,000 kgs

Upwind sail area: 195m2

Downwind sail area: 330m2