Moments after finishing, Mr Flanagan said
he felt a "tremendous relief" to finish. "I am pleased to
be here, It's great," he said. "Doing what I did was something
I had to do and I had pursued it since childhood."
He moored in Hamble, Hampshire, after more than
29,700 miles (47,797 km).
His ex-wife Louise, who managed the challenge,
and the couple's two children, Benjamin, nine, and Gabriel,
six, were among those at The Royal Southern Yacht Club to
welcome him home.
his voyage he was washed overboard from his yacht, Barrabas,
and dislocated both wrists. He also suffered two knock-downs
at Cape Horn and was tracked by pirates off Brazil.
He failed to clip on his safety line during
a storm in the Channel and felt a wave hit him as he stood
on deck. “The next think I knew, I had landed in the drink,”
He lunged for the boat and managed to grab a guard
wire with his middle finger, but could not pull himself back
on board. He felt “with absolute certainty” that all was lost
when a wave washed him back on deck. “I was very lucky. I
guess my card wasn’t up.”
Another deadly threat awaited him near the shipping
lanes off the coast of Brazil, where pirates regularly board
vessels to steal at gunpoint. He first noticed a contact on
his radar but thought little of it and fell asleep. “When
I woke I saw 200 yards in front of me there was a stationary
vessel. I thought it might be a patrol vessel, but she wasn’t.
She was bristling with electronic surveillance. I sailed past
her. I reckon she was waiting near the shipping lanes for
a better target.”
The pirate vessel followed him for two days,
waiting for him to make a mistake. “I armed my weapon. I had
a pump-action shotgun on board specifically for that purpose.
I stayed awake for 48 hours. I figured that if they were going
to attack it was going to be in the early hours of the morning
if they thought I wasn’t paying attention.” His vigilance
paid off, and the pirates lost interest.
A true circumnavigation of the world happens when
a vessel's track passes over two points "antipodal" to each
other – diametrically opposite across the Earth. Mr Flanagan
set out to do it via the polar regions.
The first known circumnavigation was recorded
in 1522, by members of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition to
find a route to the Spice Islands by sailing west. In modern
times, sailing adventurers such as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
and Sir Francis have completed circumnavigations.
"It was Sir Francis who inspired me to make this voyage
after I read Gipsy Moth Circles the World as a 15-year-old
schoolboy," explained Mr Flanagan.
Mr Flanagan has completed the voyage without a major
sponsor and his boat is now up
The yachtsman said: "I feel huge pride in my yacht
Barrabas. She has seen me through fair weather
and foul. As the first British flagged yacht to enter Russia's
Arctic territorial waters, her place in sailing history is
"I hope the legacy of the Alpha
Global Expedition will be an inspiration to my two
sons, Benjamin and Gabriel, and to anyone else to chase their
own dreams, just as Chichester inspired me."
On two occasions Mr Flanagan had to stop sailing.
Once when he was waiting for permission from the Russian government
to sail through the Arctic and once when conditions were too
treacherous off the Norwegian coast and he wintered there.
He also hitched a ride with a ship in the Russian Arctic
because the sea was still icebound.
His efforts nearly came to nothing when the Russian
authorities refused him permission to sail the last leg of
his journey along their Arctic coast alone.
That was until he appealed to Roman Abramovich,
the Russian billionaire who owns Chelsea Football Club, for
help and was given the green light – making him the first
yachtsman allowed to travel the notorious iceberg-littered
Northern Sea Route single-handedly.
The World Sailing Speed Record Council does
not consider this a record, as Mr Flanagan stopped twice.
However, the World Record Academy has decided
to recognize it as a record into a new category, which may
be safer for record breakers anyway: rather than risking their
lives in nonstop voyages, record breakers can have a limited
number of stops during their attempt.
Mr Flanagan, a former osteopath whose home is
near Bicester in Oxfordshire, said that it had taken all his
money to realise his dream, which was inspired at the age
of 15 when he read Gipsy Moth Circles the World, Sir Francis
Chichester’s account of his epic voyage.