ON NOVEMBER 5, 2018, some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn, a monster wave picked up Jean-Luc Van Den Heede’s 36-foot sailboat and pitched it end over end, knocking the sleeping skipper against the side of his cabin. After realizing what had happened, the 73-year-old Frenchman staggered out into 70-knot winds to wrestle his boat upright and survey the damage. A bolt connecting the mast to its tension lines had been yanked loose, which would prevent him from letting out the sails fully. As a seasoned sailor, Van Den Heede calmly considered what to do and whether he was too old to climb the mast for repairs.
Van Den Heede was 127 days into the Golden Globe Race—a solo nonstop round-the-world sailing event that had attracted 18 fearless (some said foolish) … Read the rest