However, the negatives surpass the positives as one contemplates larger boats and longer races or voyages. Derek Lundy addresses this parameter in his Godforsaken Sea, a discussion of round-the-world solo racing:
The inescapable problem of solo sailing, now or in Slocum's time, is that it is fundamentally unseamanlike, in both the traditional and legislative sense of the word. Traditionally, the ideal sailor has been the "prudent mariner" methodically and carefully working his way across the sea, taking what comes, avoiding risk as much as possible, getting his vessel and his crew where they are supposed to go with minimum fuss …. Contemporary cruising sailors by and large aspire to the same model: get across the seas as fast as you can with a minimum of trauma to boat or crew.That's where you can start to count me out: when, whilst afloat, I'm called upon to fix any broken part of my rig, sails or hull! Count me out of any event where I can't come in off the water and dial up my rigger or sail maker on the spot!
The essential elements of a modern mariner's prudence include having a skilled hand on the helm when necessary to avoid knockdown or capsize in heavy weather. A vessel also needs a strong crew to handle the boat's sails and gear in all conditions without undue fatigue and to keep a lookout - for large vessels that might run down small sailboat and for ice or flotsam which might rip or slash open hull or tear off a keel or rudder.Of course, the need to take cover is understandable in certain marginal or extreme conditions.
Most of the time, the single-hander can do none of these things. That is why single-handed sailing is unseamanlike.
It also violates the international rules of the road, adopted at various conventions by the world's maritime nations. According to the Preliminary Statement to the Steering and Sailing rules, sailors must manage their boats "with regard to good seamanship." Good seamanship includes taking all precautions by the ordinary practice of seamen or the particular circumstances in which a vessel finds itself.
Often the collisions, knockdowns or dismastings suffered by the Vendee Globe single-handers occur when skippers are below - sleeping or resting, cooking … analyzing weatherfax charts … Or they were down below in their cabins because it was just too unnerving or dangerous on deck.
There's the psychological toll of breakneck speed and terrible noise of wind and sea; the intense discomfort of seas constantly sweeping over the boat, soaking sailors in freezing water; the danger of being swept overboard by a breaking wave or being on deck during a knockdown; the virtual death sentence of being outside during a capsize.And,
….The image of sailors napping in their bunks as they barrel down thirty-foot waves at 20 knots under the autopilot doesn't exactly suggest good seamanship. They're not keeping a lookout; there's no hand on the helm. Indeed the race itself, the fact that the sailors are alone in the Southern Ocean, is outside "the ordinary practice of seamen" contemplated by the rule. None of the legalistic caviling matters to the racers, of course. In fact the marginality of the enterprise is part of its appeal. One of the reasons skippers go to sea is to get away from the excessive coddling and coercion or rules and regulations.Lundy did not say anything about the unnecessary and extraordinary risks undertaken by 3rd party rescuers, drawn into the occasional misfortune of the self-willed risk-taking by the reckless solo racers of the Vendee.
In round-the-world races, the intense competition and the boats' speed multiply the burdens and dangers of single-handed sailing. Both these factors encourage - or demand - behavior that increases rather than minimizes the usual risks of sailing alone …..
I concede that solo distance sailors are good sailors. But they and Vendee skippers are not so much distinguished from Volvo Ocean Racers crews by their sailing: the Vendee distinguish themselves by their adventurism, escapism, fool-hardiness, risky stuntsmanship, and reckless endangering of others. OTOH, as far as superior performance sailing is concerned, that quality is to be found among the Volvo Ocean Racing crews. Solo sailing is not performance sailing. Unless you're in a Laser or the like.
Abby Sunderland? I'm glad she is going to be plucked from her disabled yacht. Who would not be glad?