Circumnavigation: The world is just enough


The world is just enough

Circumnavigation: The world is just enough-circumnavigation

The goal in sight: Hubert Hirschfeld from Berlin on board his Danish X-612

Source: Rainer Opitz

For decades this trip never got out of his head. Now Hubert Hirschfeld from Berlin is finally sailing around the world. If all goes well, he will be back from his voyage in a year and a half.

Hubert Hirschfeld has been preparing for years. The big goal dominated his mind, he was excited about the start of his circumnavigation, and now this: his “Chika-lu” sits at the head of the field right after the start, leaving 38 other boats behind him. But then at 25 knots of wind, part of his sail tears. He had to break off the start that had gone so perfectly up to then.

The "Chika-lu" has to turn around, back to the Rodney Bay Marina on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia – The repair takes three hours. Five hours later, the “Chika-lu” will start a second rally around the globe.

It won’t be the last breakdown at this world rally for cruising sailors, the World-ARC. The trip is an adventure whose course no one can predict.

The Berliner has been on the road for two weeks. He makes the dream come true that almost all sailors dream of and that affects every serious owner of a sailing boat like a virus at least once in their life: once around the world, Discover foreign countries and cultures from your own ship’s side. Free and unbound.

World Atlantic Rally for Cruisers” is the name of the great challenge in which, in addition to Hirschfeld’s Danish X-612 “Chika-lu”, 38 other boats from 14 different countries take part.

Organized circumnavigation

This circumnavigation, carried out and organized by the British sailing operator World Cruising, takes the participants over 26,000 nautical miles from the island state of St. Lucia via Panama, the Galapagos Islands and Tahiti to Fiji and Australia, from where they continue via Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and back in April 2015 to St. Lucia, where the journey comes to an end.

Apart from special regattas such as the Sydney-Hobart race or the Vendee Globe, the toughest non-stop regatta for single-handed sailors around the world, the World ARC is considered to be the greatest adventure that one can experience in one’s sailing life. Hirschfeld agrees too, who needed 50 years before he finally tackled World ARC at the age of 72.

Hirschfeld, a member of the Seglerhaus am Wannsee association, would like to experience a nice, big voyage of discovery, “one where you learn to look at life again with new eyes, no hassle and no race, where the aim is to be the first to arrive somewhere ".

Three sailors as a regular crew

Hirschfeld made his first major sailing experience in 1961 with a trip from Lisbon across the Atlantic to the Caribbean – at a time when cruising sailors traveling around the world were still a rarity. “I was only 19 years old at the time. I then worked for a year as a deckhand on a 25-meter staysail schooner with trips through the Caribbean islands. "

During this time, he already wanted to sail around the world on his own ship, he recalls. Hirschfeld found the ship in an X-612, a boat that is not only fast, but comfortable and equipped for a larger crew. He embarks on the journey with changing crews, with three sailors accompanying him throughout the journey, including a doctor, a diving instructor and an engineer.

A smart choice to be prepared for adventures and any dangers on the way. Although the tour leads around the world in a loose network, it is of course still not an easy undertaking. So days of lulls as well as violent storms can keep the boats under control. For Hirschfeld, who has already conquered the Atlantic several times, these challenges should be able to be mastered.

The actual problems were rather in advance: Finding a suitable team for this sailing adventure turned out to be difficult and time-consuming. After all, living close together for months on end is not easy, even on board a sailing ship of the type X-612 with a length of 18 meters and several cabins that even offer a little privacy.

Living together in a confined space

Sometimes the sailors live together in a confined space for weeks without seeing any land. Everyone must therefore be able to withdraw, there must be no animosity. "It was also important to me to put together a team that complemented each other in terms of skills and knowledge," says Hirschfeld. That required intensive preparation.

“From my circle of friends and clubmates there were no fellow sailors who wanted or could take part in such a trip. So I had to go other ways, ”says Hirschfeld. A good year ago he started looking for fellow sailors for the world trip through advertisements on the Internet portal “Hand gegen Koje”, among other places.

What Hirschfeld wrote in it sounded so tempting that around 100 candidates contacted him. Of these 100 first contacts from all over Germany, 20 made their way to Berlin to get to know each other. Eight candidates finally met in October last year for a test trip off Mallorca.

Applications to sail along

During the multi-day sailing excursion around the Balearic Island, Hirschfeld decided who was allowed to accompany him on his circumnavigation. “It wasn’t easy.

After all, they were all seasoned sailors, mostly with many thousands of logged nautical miles on all continents, ”says Hirschfeld. They were sailors who, like himself, were inspired by the desire to circumnavigate the world on a boat.

In addition to the elaborate selection process, Hirschfeld had his hands full preparing himself and his ship for the voyage. In the year before the start, one appointment followed the other. The paperwork that had to be done filled several files and the ship needed to be cleared.

Ship conversion in Mallorca

Within six months he flew several times from Berlin to Mallorca to supervise the renovation work in the bow of his ship, where two berths were removed and a washing machine and ice machine were installed. He also completed safety training at the cruiser department of the German Sailing Association and practiced the practical handling of dangers such as fire on board.

And then – a few weeks after the selection trip – the time had come: The “Chika-lu” set out from Mallorca for St. Lucia in the Caribbean. What is already a huge adventure for amateur sailors was just the beginning of his world tour for Hirschfeld. It was used to get to the starting point of this year’s World ARC.

So now Hirschfeld is on the way. He had lost five hours due to the broken sail – annoying, but nothing compared to the time he now spends on his journey: If all goes well, he will be home in 15 months.

More about Hubert Hirschfeld’s project and his participation in the World ARC at or at

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