TWO intrepid Dorset sailors are aiming to raise £10,000 for charity and smash multiple world records by circumnavigating the UK coastline.

Castle Cove Sailing Club members Josh O’Brien and Sam Barker – Team Wildgybe – are teaming up for the gruelling 2,000-mile journey on board a 20-foot catamaran with no cabin.

Sleep deprivation will therefore be a major factor and Team Wildgybe have partnered with Coventry University to study how their bodies perform under the strain.

Depending on weather windows, the challenge will take place in May or June and is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Stroke Association.

Speaking to Echosport, O’Brien said: “My future mother-in-law has been battling breast cancer for 15 years.

“It hasn’t been easy but her thirst for life has been the inspiration.

“She’s been the driving force behind it and said we have to live life to the fullest because you never know what’s around the corner.”

For an ‘open sailing vessel’ the current non-stop and unassisted UK circumnavigation world record is 15 days and four hours.

In 2018, Will Hodshon and Rich Mitchell set the mark aboard Nipegegi – a 16-foot Wayfarer dinghy which was 60 years old at the time.

However, Team Wildgybe are attempting to break three world records and Nipegegi’s time.

They aim to set a new mark for the fastest double-handed catamaran around mainland Britain, the longest distance for a double-handed catamaran plus the greatest distance covered in that catamaran in 12 hours.

O’Brien said: “We thought we could do it a lot quicker in a catamaran.

“In our head, it also encompassed everyone in the UK – we’re all in it together.

“We all know someone who’s been affected by a stroke or cancer. If we can all come together, it would just make life brighter.”

O’Brien’s teammate Barker admitted the journey is “mega”.

He said: “It’s a bit bonkers, isn’t it? Josh approached me with a number of ideas for charity and there were a few wacky ones.

“Then he came up and said: ‘Why don’t we sail round the mainland UK?’ and at this point I was like: ‘Go on then, Josh. If you need me, I’ll help you!’

“Next thing I know there’s a Team Wildgybe website, social media and it’s all kicked off.

“I said: “Josh, I was joking!’ and he said: ‘It’s too late, you can’t back out now!’

“There are a few people who’ve done it before us, mainly the Nipegegi. They stopped off in Weymouth to do a talk at Castle Cove – which I happened to be at.

“We just decided we’ve got to do it, but not in a Wayfarer because it’s way too slow. If we’re going to do it, we want to go round quick!

“We are competitors and would like to beat the records. At the same time, we’re doing it for a great cause and want to push ourselves, push the limits.

“I’ve done all the navigation and timings and we can quite easily do it in eight days – seven days if we were really going for it, possibly even quicker.”

He added: “This is going to be mega. This is way beyond going out for a leisurely sail.

“We’re talking over a week of basically not sleeping. I’m not comparing it, but it’s similar to the Vendee Globe round-the-world race that’s going on at the moment.

“We’re going to be out in the elements, we’re not going to be able to hide.”

On the task of sleeping, O’Brien added: “We’re modifying the boat to have racks on the side so we don’t have to trapeze off the side.

“Other than that, it will be braving the elements and trying to avoid the waves.

“It will be sleeping out on the rack while one person sails. We’re probably looking at one to two hours of sleep at a time.

“We are working with Coventry Uni for the sleep deprivation and helping them out with some research on it. We’re acting as a case study.

“We’ve already sent sleeping logs to them and they’ve sent questionnaires to fill out in terms of our sleep patterns.

“Then we’re going to do a couple of trials, when lockdown allows, to start doing some two, three-day sails to see how it affects us and what sleep deprivation is like.

“I’ve done a lot of cycling in the past. I cycled down from Birmingham to Weymouth twice last year just to see how it would take a toll on my body and see how the sleep was affected.

“That was all positive. Working with Coventry, we’re getting help and hints off them, which is always good.”

Team Wildgybe welcome donations to their fundraising page

Follow the duo’s progress on Facebook or Instagram using the @teamwildgybe handle.


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