With a degree in mathematics from Harvard and in sciences from MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) in Boston, his home town, Rich Wilson is a brilliant man, who has had numerous occupations: a maths teacher in Boston, defence analyst in Washington and consultant for a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia among others. In short, a brain. Rich Wilson is also a successful sailor, who became known back in 1980 when he won the Newport- Bermuda Race. In 1990, he decided to use sailing as an educational tool teaching children. When he attempted to smash the San Francisco-Boston record sailing double-handed aboard Great American, a 60-foot trimaran, he capsized off Cape Horn before being rescued by a cargo vessel. This episode which clearly left its mark was followed by many schoolchildren. Rich Wilson gave it another go on the same course three years later. The second attempt was successful as he was followed by 300,000 children in the United States, but also by millions of adults as his articles were taken up in many leading newspapers. Aboard Great American II, he set two new records between New York and Melbourne, and Hong Kong-New York, and finished second in the Transatlantic Race in 2004.
At the age of 58, he was the oldest competitor in the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe. Aboard an older boat, launched ten years before the race, he fought hard to overcome the gales and some serious damage. He reached les Sables d’Olonne after 121 days of sailing, once again having shared his race experience with as many people as he could. If he is returning in 2016, it is to be faster, but also to develop his educational programmes. Convinced of the usefulness of sailing as a tool to convey positive values to youngsters, Rich Wilson will spread the word in the United States and around the world. He hopes too that by competing, he can contribute to publicising the solo round the world race in the States, in order to see more American competitors lining up in the future. So, Rich Wilson is an incredible ambassador for the Vendée Globe. He will be 66 and the oldest competitor in the race this year.