|“After sailing more than 11,000 miles, I am living proof that if you diligently self-monitor your blood sugar, this disease doesn’t have to define your life.”
Sailing around the world singlehanded is a daunting challenge for anyone. (More people have gone into space than have sailed around the world alone.) But it was a double challenge for John, who has type 2 diabetes. In a race that pushes competitors to their physical and mental limits, John would have the dual responsibilities of managing his boat and sails, while also managing his diabetes.
John arrived in Torbay, England on the fourth of October, finishing the first of the five legs of the race. Despite being hammered by a squall with 40-knot winds that damaged some of this rigging, he tested his blood sugar five times a day through the Atlantic crossing.
In January 2003 John had arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, after 55 days at sea, where he was greeted by a crowd of several hundred, including his wife and daughter. John turned 58 during this second leg of the race. As he told us in South Africa, “After sailing more then 11,000 miles. I am living proof that if you diligently self-monitor your blood sugar, this disease doesn’t have to define your life. I encourage anyone who has diabetes and a personal goal or aspiration to try realise it like I am.” Unfortunately, John’s epic journey came to an end in the Indian Ocean. He wasn’t stopped by diabetes, but by insurmountable technical problems with his boat, which forced him to turn back to Cape Town. Under the rules of the competition, anyone who turns back is not allowed to continue, so his race is over He will follow the Around Alone fleet in the final leg from Salvador, Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island, sailing with crew not as a competitor but as a ceremonial ambassador for diabetes.