The old man and the sea: 73-year-old to sail solo around world in ‘bathtub’ boat

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Story highlights

73-year-old man plans to sail around world in world's smallest boat

At 3meters-long, the vessel is only slightly bigger than a bathtub

World renowned boat builder Sven Yrvind says creation is safer than big boats

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, first solo world sailor, says plan is possible

CNN  — 

When faced with the most ferocious waves on the planet, most people would seek protection in the largest, sturdiest vessel they could find.

But when Swedish pensioner Sven Yrvind sets out on his ambitious mission to circumnavigate the globe, it won’t be in a hefty ship piled high with food, creature comforts and telecommunications equipment. Instead, the 73-year-old plans to traverse the high seas cocooned in a sailboat only slightly bigger than a bathtub.

For many, the proposition of sailing non-stop around the world for a year-and-a-half in a vessel just three meters-long will sound rather ambitious, and coming from a man well past the retirement age, downright far-fetched.

Indeed, few would likely take the idea seriously were Yrvind not one of the world’s most respected boat-builders.

During his accomplished life he has given lectures to the Swedish king and queen and received awards from the prestigious Royal Cruising Club in Britain, among others.

“People have said it’s a suicide mission,” said Yrvind. “But a big boat is actually more dangerous than a small one. You’ve got bigger forces throwing you around – a bigger engine, a bigger beam, a bigger deck.

“My small boat is like a little capsule – nothing can happen to you. It’s like throwing a bottle in the water – it will capsize, it will pitchpole (somersault), but it will always come back up,” he added.

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If successful, Yrvind will make history for sailing the smallest boat around the world without docking on land.

The record is currently held by Italian Alessandro di Benedetto, who in 2010 circumnavigated the globe in a 6.5 meter yacht – more than double the size of Yrvind’s creation.

Yrvind, from the small village of Vastervik in south east Sweden, started building the ground-breaking vessel in March. Now half-complete, he is reluctant to put a time on its launch.

Named Yrvind Ten after its 10 foot length, the miniature vessel will be just 1.8 meters wide with two six meter-tall masts.

Weighing 1.5 tons, it will be made out of a composite foam and fiberglass material which, he says, is “excellent for insulation and floatation.”

Powered by wind, solar panels, gel batteries and a foot crank, Yrvind Ten will set sail from Ireland in a 48,000 kilometer return journey around the globe.

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail around the world in 1969 in a 9.8 meter yacht, said there was a real possibility Yrvind would complete the voyage.

Briton Knox-Johnston, who also founded the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, added that many people had thought his own bid to circumnavigate the globe was impossible at the time.