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'One Wild Ride'

Epic charity cruise

When Gary ‘Ted’ Sargent earned a sabbatical from work, he knew it was his chance to not just travel, but to fulfil a long-held ambition to embark on a cruising adventure.

Inspired as a boy by epic voyages like the Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Volvo Ocean Race), Ted, aged 42, considered his options, evaluated the cost and then joked to his wife one evening that he could sail around Ireland instead… in a dinghy.

Ted has previously sailed around Ireland in a yacht and enjoys a variety of dinghy and keelboat sailing at Howth Yacht Club and Clontarf Boat Club in Dublin. As the idea refused to go away, Ted started making his dream a reality, and after embarking on months of fitness training and meticulous planning, One Wild Ride was launched, a charity-fundraising, clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland in a Laser.

With a volunteer support crew of nearly 40 people, Ted set off from Schull, County Cork, in May 2016, returning 42 days and 1,750km later. It had taken 36 point-to-point sailing days and encompassed the Wild Atlantic Way to Derry, the rugged coastline of the north and the long sandy beaches of the east coast.

image credit Paul McMahon

Highs and lows

Sailing had to be abandoned during the first week when the support RIB broke down and needed to be towed ashore by a lifeboat. With the breeze hitting the top of a Force 4 and Ted on a full Laser rig, with 21 miles of exposed Co. Clare cliffs to the next port of call, it served to highlight early on a good risk assessment had been a priority when planning the challenge.

Equipment included a marine helmet with built in VHF, tracking technology to update the One Wild Ride website, GPS, GoPro and Garmin cameras. Ted would aim to sail around eight hours a day, however the longest day on the water was 13 hours. It was a punishing programme.

Elation from seeing dolphins or breath-taking scenery contrasted with the torture of too much or too little breeze. Lack of wind on one day saw Ted parked for over five hours. Sailing the northern coast in fog for six days using GPS and the tide saw frustratingly slow progress.

Although the Laser is not renowned for comfort, Ted has no regrets about choosing it for his cruising challenge. It allowed him to change rig sizes for the conditions or land on a beach, and proved robust. He’s proud of having just four capsizes and his only breakages were a self-bailer and a self-inflicted lost tiller extension.

Ted’s Top Tips

  • Never underestimate the sea: you’ll discover a newfound respect for it.
  • Do your homework: A proper risk assessment is a must: when the support boat broke down, we all knew what to do.
  • Elevate the experience: Don’t just think of it as a sailing trip, think of it as a cultural experience. Share your experience and stories.
  • Take small steps: It feels daunting - the sea and the wind are powerful - plan properly.
  • No wind: You have to be prepared for things that don’t go according to plan - concentrate on the next wave, the way you’re sailing the boat, the tell tales.
  • Technology: A huge amount of information and technology is available – use it to your advantage, whether it’s forecasting, WhatsApp to stay in touch, RYA SafeTrx or GPS.
  • Plan B: Ask yourself, what if my VHF fails? What if the GPS fails? We also used charts, for example, because I wanted an overall picture of the route as well.

image credit Ted Sargent

Ted hopes One Wild Ride will now inspire others to find their own extraordinary challenge.

Visit Ted's website at 

Ted talked about his experience on the Main Stage at the 2017 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show held at Alexandra Palace, London.

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