In 1987 I met Wilfried Erdmann. I was 15 at that time and he had come to my hometown to give a talk about his 1984 to 85 non-stop, solo circumnavigation from west to east with the prevailing winds with his boat Kathena Nui in 271 days. I don’t really remember why I went to this event I only remember that I went there by myself.
Winfried Erdmann is the first German sailor who sailed across the world alone. Because of the size of his boat, nobody in Germany believed him first. Erdmann was able to give proof of the visited ports of call, though.
Later he would go on to spend his honeymoon with his wife Astrid on a 1011-day long journey (69 to 72), which eventually became his second circumnavigation. Having sold Kathena, his first boat, they traveled with his second boat Kathena 2. From 1976 to 1979 another journey to the South Pacific with his wife and his 3-year-old son Kym. 1984 to 1985 the solo circumnavigation he presented in his talk and in 1989 he did two Atlantic crossings with winners of a contest of German magazine Stern.
In 2000 to 2001 another non-stop, solo circumnavigation from east to west (contrary to the prevailing winds) with Kathena Nui in 343 days. He was the fifth sailor worldwide doing such a journey.
Needless to say he is quite a hero in the sailing world and I have felt inspired by him and his journeys. Partly because of the event in my youth did I start sailing. Being the youngest at the event he asked me to come to join him on the stage. He asked me if I liked sailing and I said, sure but had never been on a real sailing boat.
Following that another sailor in the audience spoke up and offered to take me and a friend on his boat in the Med for a trip. A few months later I joined Willy (who had offered the trip) on his boat and we sailed the Med. Coincidentally we he had his boat in Alicante the exact same place where Wilfried Erdmann had started his first circumnavigation! Another coincidence I only found out today is that I share the birthday month with him.
On the 15th of April Wilfried Erdmann turned 80. Happy Birthday – you are an inspiration!
Wilfried Erdmann books (in German)
Wilfried Erdmann Website (German)