Canadian record holding parachutist in for Global Solo Challenge

New Global Solo Challenge entrant, parachutist William MacBrien, has won several gold medals in that discipline and is a record holder with more than 3000 jumps in the x 2 category.

The Canadian certainly has a strong capacity to prepare for and mitigate risks. He was attracted by the Global Solo Challenge, as sailing solo in remote waters means he will need to get things right the first time around – or face serious trouble. As with many other skippers, MacBrien has inherited his passion for sailing from his father and plans to find and refit an older Open 50 for the event.

Marco Nannini sat down and spoke to him about his entry and sailing in general.

Where does your passion for sailing come from?

I developed a passion for sailing from my father, who was a retired Navy Carrier Pilot, a 1964 Olympic sailor in the Dragon class, and used to navigate for Ted Hood (the famous sailmaker). Later he started a boat building company, making 40-foot cruising boats, in 1975. I was 10. The rest you can imagine.

What lessons have you learnt from sailing?

At one point, I was thrust into watch officer position suddenly on a 72-foot Brigantine. I was ordering my peers around, so I realised some leadership while reveling in the true age of sail… (square rigged).

Problem solving. There’s the right way, and the slow way, or everything takes twice as long and costs double.

What brought you to like single-handed sailing?

So far, because it seemed the easiest to organise. Oops, I have to do everything myself, I realize now. So, I’m very lucky to have a capable team heading up management to back check me on decisions.

The risk management in this race is like no other. You have to be able to do everything to save yourself the first time, just like skydiving, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Global Solo Challenge course

What prompted you to sign up for this event?

Pure and simple; the impetus was the pandemic lockdown (my demon).

The boat will be named Demon Banshee, Banshee is ‘Herald of the Family Dead’ and so I shall be sailing for three of my family who passed recently (father, sister, brother-in-law. All non-Covid).

How do you plan to prepare for this event?

Train and then train some more. Become very familiar with the boat. I have a training route planned to build distance and will max out at crossing the Atlantic for the race start. Coaching is also being looked at. Oh, and make 40 checklists.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

For me personally, I am not looking forward to the food. I have never heard anyone say anything good about any freeze dried food.

Can you tell us about your boat, or the boat you would like to have?

If everything goes according to the current plan, an older Open 50 vessel.

What is your sailing experience?

I raced at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club: Lasers, Sprites, Optimists and Prams. I did a bit of time in 8 Metres, a bit in a short lived Hobie Cat class, and finally, some windsurfing. I managed a bronze, a trophy, and that was it.

I did boat delivery for a bit. Then skydiving took over…instructor, coach. I won a few golds (eight-man team) and I am Canadian record holder of 3000 jumps.

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