Conrad Manning is 17 and about to finish his A-levels at Dulwich College. As his contemporaries look forward to relaxing after their studies, Conrad is planning to become the fastest teenager to sail solo non-stop round the world. If he realises his ambition, he will still be back in time to join his peers as they embark on their more standard ‘travels’.
He will be following in the wake of one of Dulwich’s most famous alumni, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his famous voyage aboard James Caird in 1917. Like Shackleton’s Antarctic expeditions, this ambitious project is no pipe dream; an enormous amount of preparation has already taken place, not least a sailing career that stretches back to the nursery.
Conrad has been sailing since he was five, racing almost as long. His track record includes several transit races and long distance boat transportations all of which are good preparation for the Southern Ocean where much of his solo venture will be spent. He has completed the necessary courses and, as a potential GB rower, his personal fitness level is at an all-time high. All of this, the choice of boat and his pure dedication to succeed provide him with confidence that he will be faster then any teenager before.
The Class 40 has been chosen for the fact they have been designed for single-handed sailing whilst still being affordable due to them being both smaller and the prohibition of high-tech materials or swinging keels. Many subsidies have already been confirmed and several companies will provide the necessary facilities to upgrade the equipment aboard. Meanwhile, Conrad continues in his quest to find the main gold sponsor. The company who takes on this exciting venture will see its name forever associated with a project that exemplifies all that is best about today’s youth: hard work, determination, ambition and vision.
Conrad’s plan is to follow the Jules Verne Trophy’s route and set off from the Solent in November, heading first south and then east on a journey of more than 21,600 nautical miles which will take him across the equator twice and past the three great Capes – Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn – before bringing him back to his starting point in less than 200 days. If all goes well, his confidence, determination and sailing skills will ensure he returns just as his contemporaries are preparing for their exams.
It won’t end there though. Conrad’s vision takes him beyond next February. “One reason I’m doing this is to dispel the belief you need greying hair, a mortgage and a team of professionals to fulfil a record-breaking ambition. The other is in the hope that my experience will ensure I am able represent England in the Vendée Globe!”
Conatct Conrad Manning Mobile: +447792505278 if you would like to help him along his way
Jules Verne Trophy: is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew
Necessary courses: First aid, sea survival, radar and radio operator, navigation and the Yachtmaster Ocean theory and practical will be taken in the summer
Sir Ernest Shackleton: A principal figure in the age of Antarctic exploration most famous for his rescue of the entire crew aboard the stricken Endurance 1914-1917 by sailing a dinghy sized boat with 5 other crew members across the Southern Ocean to a whaling station.
Current record stands at 210 days, held by the Australian girl Jessica Watson in 2009