In the pantheon of American single-handed sailing, Steve Pettengill deserves a special nook. After selling his trucking company in 1985, the lure of ocean sailing took him to Newport, Rhode Island, at the time the home port of single-handed Atlantic Ocean racing.
After almost a decade of racing across the Atlantic, breaking the 130 year old record of the Clipper Ship “Flying Cloud” from New York to San Francisco, being capsized and rescued NW of Cape Horn, Steve confidently chose to sail in the ultimate test of single-handed sailing.
Arguably the greatest single-handed sailing challenge of the era was a single-handed, around the world race sponsored by the British Oxygen Company called the “BOC Challenge”. As the longest single-handed sailing race it was considered the “Ultimate Challenge” in sailing. This race was held every four years and the 1994-1995 edition originated in Charleston, South Carolina. This race was open to two classes of sailboats, 50 ft. and 60 feet. Steve Pettengill signed on with the largest sailboat manufacturer in the US, Hunter Marine to challenge the 19 other sailors crazy enough to attempt this circumnavigation, Steve agreed to sail the 60 foot “Hunter’s Child” in the competition.
The first leg found the boats heading to Capetown, South Africa. Steve arrived second overall in just under 41 days. The next leg was from Capetown to Sydney, Australia. The Southern Ocean was not kind to Steve and after being knocked down, suffering damage to the mast and spreaders he arrived after 28 days, finishing third in this leg. After much repair and retesting of the boats in Australia, the remaining flotilla headed for the dangerous waters of the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. Just over 31 days later, Steve arrived in Punta Del Estes, Uruguay in second place. The final leg to Charleston again found Steve in second place in just under 28 days. This overall second place finish was the best any American single-handed sailor had ever logged at the time…total time out to sea, covering 27,000 miles alone, was just over 128 days.
Steve stayed on with Hunter Marine and for many years and was responsible for improving the brand, creating an American sailboat to compete in the marketplace with other sailboat manufacturers. He was called “Doctor Destructo” for his desire to push the boats to extremes with the goal making them better.
Steve has many other records and achievements on his resume…far too many to list here. Steve is coming to Motorcoach Country Club to discuss the events of his career, share stories and the lies that come with being alone, out to sea making it back to port and to do something extraordinary again.
We are happy to announce that Steve will be in the MCC yacht club at 4:00 p.m. of February 19, at 4:00 to discuss this and other sailing accomplishments.