Rich Wilson was one of 30 competitors who entered the 2008-2009 Vendee Globe, solo, non-stop, round the world sailing race. After 121 days of hurricane force winds, crushing fatigue and broken gear he was one of only 11 starters to complete the grueling 28,790 mile race. At 58 he was the oldest skipper in the race. He was also the only American and the only asthmatic. Along the way he endured broken ribs, a facial gash and compressed vertebrae. At one point he had to climb the 90 foot mast on his 60′ monohull Great American III to keep going.
Rich Wilson began sailing with his Dad at the age of 3. Over the years he has set three world sailing records: From San Francisco to Boston by way of Cape Horn in 1993, New York to Melbourne by way of Cape of Good Hope in 2003 and Hong Kong to New York by way of Cape of Good Hope in 2003. In 1990 he suffered a disastrous double capsize in 65′ seas off Cape Horn. But he survived to successfully challenge the record for that route held by the great clipper ships. He is described as articulate, philosophical, humorous and modest. “Having been upside down in a trimaran 400 miles west of Cape Horn in 65′ seas, I know my place in the universe, and it is small,” he says.
Wilson has led a diverse and accomplished life. He earned an A.B. Degree in Mathematics at Harvard College and has Master’s Degrees from M.I.T. and Harvard Business School. He taught math in Boston, was a defense analyst on B-52s and cruise missiles, was a writer for the Dukakis presidential campaign and wrote Racing a Ghost Ship which won the 1997 Scientific American Young Readers Book Award. He was named “Super Achiever” by the American Lung Association.
Now a motivational speaker he is the President and Founder of sitesAlive!, an online, interactive, learning adventure series of 75 programs for K-12 education.