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Home / News / Congratulations Keith!

Congratulations Keith!

Published 00:00 on 31 Dec 2023

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 7)

Keith Oliver has reached Antigua, arriving in the early hours of 30 December. He came third in the race, only a few hours behind the second place boat after 35 single-handed days at sea. What an achievement!

Above you can see his boat approaching harbour at first light and below's a closer shot of Keith's broad smile at the end of his remarkable voyage. I'm sure the whole Club salutes Keith's fantastic achievement.

Roger Mavity

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 6)

Club member Keith Oliver is close to the end of his extraordinary single-handed race across the Atlantic. The lead boat, 'Right Now' from the US, has just crossed the finish line. In second place is 'Sunbear', another American boat, with just 87 nautical miles to go. Keith is close behind, with 3,160 nautical miles accomplished and 110 nautical miles still to go. 'Sunbear' is expected to finish in Antigua tomorrow (December 30) at around 2 pm, with Keith in 'Meraki' expected to finish less than a couple of hours later at around 3.40 pm. What an achievement!

You can see videos of the winner's arrival and others (including Keith's guided tour of 'Meraki') on YouTube here.

Roger Mavity

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 5)

With one week to go to Christmas the four remaining contestants have now covered two thirds of their trans-Atlantic journey and have about 900 nautical miles left to get to their destination, Antigua. The two American boats are leading but our club member Keith Oliver has overtaken the other British boat and is now in third place, 43 miles ahead of the last boat. The winner is expected to make landfall on 28 December and Keith should make Antigua on the morning of 29 December. So Christmas will be a lonely event, but there should be much to celebrate on the New Year."

Many thanks - and a Happy Christmas to all.

Roger Mavity

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 4)

Keith Oliver's single-handed race across the Atlantic is now well under way.The photo shows him and a fellow competitor manouevring close to the Lanzarote shore and is the last shot we have of him before he was out of sight of land.

One boat, with a Dutch skipper, dropped out after the qualifying leg to Lanzarote, leaving two British skippers and two American skippers in the race.
Keith has now been at sea for fourteen days since leaving Lanzarote, and has covered 1,349 nautical miles, with another 1,792 nautical miles to go to reach Antigua.
Winds were light after the start and progress was slow, but winds are now more lively. Both British boats have covered 109 miles in the last 24 hours and the two US boats have covered 122 and 134 miles.

Landfall was expected around Christmas Day, but the light winds in the early days of the race now makes that very unlikely. Current forecast is that landfall is likely between 29 December and 4 January - so Keith's Christmas lunch will be a Spartan affair!

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 3)

The first leg of the Globe 5.80 transatlantic race, from Portugal to the Canaries, is now under way.

There are five competitors, including our own Keith Oliver, a Dutchman, two Americans and another Englishman.

They have been at sea for five days and are close to Lanzarote where they will have a break for a few days before the race across the Atlantic begins in earnest on 25 November.

Landfall in Antigua is expected for around Christmas Day, so Keith will be enjoying a rather different Christmas from the rest of us.

We hope to have some photos to show you soon after they reach Lanzarote in the next few days.

If you want to follow progress, go to '' and click on 'tracker' on the top bar.

West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 2)

I recently introduced you to fellow member Keith Oliver and his extraordinary project to build his own, quite tiny, boat and race it single-handed across the Atlantic this winter. Here's an update. Scroll down to read earlier instalments.

A few days ago, I went to see Keith in the barn by Cakeham Manor where he's building his boat, lovingly, by hand and with virtually no help from anyone else. (Though his dog Amber keeps him company in the barn and lurks by the door, tennis ball in mouth, ready to play 'Fetch' with any visitor who comes by.) The boat is coming on apace, as you can see from the picture. The hull is painted a properly nautical blue while the superstructure is painted - for safety reasons - in a rather garish hi viz reddish orange. Keith is now working on the interior, concentrating on the intricate but crucial task of plumbing in all the electrical systems for lighting, satellite navigation and so on.

Keith's aim is to get all of that work finished in early September, add on the rudder, stanchions and guard rails, then to lift the boat up with a forklift truck, screw on the keel and place it gingerly on its trailer for a journey to Chichester harbour. At the harbour, the mast is fitted and Keith sets out for his very first sail in the new boat. What an exciting moment that will be.

After the inevitable snagging the boat comes out of the water again, back on the trailer and off by road from Chichester to Lagos in southern Portugal. Keith hopes to be there by early November latest, with the race starting on 12 November. The first leg will take Keith to Lanzarote in the Canaries and should last about five or six days. Then it'll be a week to tidy up loose ends on the boat and enjoy the luxury of sleeping in a real bed that isn't jumping about in the middle of the ocean. The big leg of the race starts from Lanzarote on Saturday 25th November and is expected to take about 30 days, so Keith and his rivals should make landfall in Antigua on or around Christmas Day.

A slice of turkey, a glass of wine and a phone call home will be something magical for Keith to look forward to while he's battling his way across more than 3,000 miles of ocean entirely on his own.

I'll report more in a few week's time, when Keith's boat should be afloat in our harbour and dreams of the harbour in Antigua will seem much closer.

Roger Mavity


West Wittering goes to the West Indies (Part 1)

My idea of a tricky navigational problem is remembering which buoy is Gardner and which is Runway when a race takes my Scow to the Hayling end of the harbour. So I was somewhat over-awed, to put it mildly, when I spent an hour this morning with fellow club member, Keith Oliver.

This November, Keith is planning to race single-handed from Portugal to Antigua in the West Indies. And he is building his own boat to do it. The boat is a Globe 5.80, which is about 19 feet long. To put that in perspective, it's a couple of feet longer than a Wayfarer and a few inches less than a Shrimper. The boat has no loo (sorry, 'heads') unless you count a plastic bucket from Homebase. The diet will be freeze-dried gloop, with some fruit while it lasts.

The race is named the Globe 5.80 Transat after the boat design, which all competitors must use and must sail single-handed. At the moment there are only about seven people keen enough/crazy enough (delete as appropriate) to compete. The rules are tough: there is a satellite phone for emergencies only, but otherwise there is no communication allowed between the boats and land. The first leg is from Lagos in Portugal to Lanzarote in the Canaries and will take about a week. The second leg is from Lanzarote to Antigua and will take the best part of a month. The length of the race is roughly 3,000 miles.

Keith has made the hull himself from a kit and is now fitting the windows before painting and fitting the interior. Then the keel goes on, followed by the rudder, then mast and rigging. Even the lead bulbs which add the crucial weight to the bottom of the keel have been constructed by Keith himself: he carved wooden moulds for the bulbs then poured in molten lead. To my amazement, Keith continues to work as a Project Manager for an audio visual company while doing his boat building, mostly at weekends.

When I asked Keith how many big solo voyages he'd made, the answer was "none".

I salute the extraordinary ambition and resourcefulness of this fellow member. It's a huge adventure and I plan to send updates from time to time. And I'm sure we all look forward to buying Keith a beer when he's back.

Roger Mavity


Last updated 11:01 on 28 March 2024

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