7 July 1943
Vito DUMAS (ARG) sailed into Mar del Planta, Argentina after an incredible 259-day voyage which saw him battle some of the globe's most inhospitable conditions, sailing around the world and through the notorious Southern Ocean.
On his arrival back into his home port, DUMAS became the first sailor to sail a single-handed circumnavigation with just three landfalls, and the first to single-handedly round Cape Horn and survive.
Eight years before he set out from Buenos Aires, DUMAS had met and befriended Al HANSEN (NOR), who was preparing an attempt to become the first single-handed sailor to round Cape Horn from east to west. At this time DUMAS himself was awaiting completion of Lehg II, a 32 foot ketch he had commissioned to fulfil his own ocean-going dreams. HANSEN did round the Horn, but he never returned from his voyage, with his boat Mary Jane wrecked off the coast of Chile.
DUMAS dreams of rounding the world looked to be fading away after he sold his boat to buy cattle, but he proved a less successful farmer than seaman. As the world descended into war, DUMAS's finances deteriorated, but he could not escape his longing for the ocean. A family friend lent him money and he was able to buy back Lehg II and set his sights on a round the world voyage.
On his first leg from Argentina to Cape Town, South Africa, DUMAS was hit by violent seas early on. In fixing a leak he injured his arm, an injury which became infected and almost forced him to amputate his arm. Sailing on his own right at the height of the Second World War - he did not even have a radio for fear of being accused of being a spy - he had nervous encounters with Brazilian and British ships, before Table Mountain emerged on the horizon, 55 days into his voyage.
DUMAS was warmly welcomed into South Africa and made a lengthy stopover before heading on for his second leg and the Roaring Forties. Massive winds and huge waves battered his 32 foot boat, whilst psychologically DUMAS battled the extreme isolation of the ocean. A cyclone hit as he approached Australia, but he would not give in. DUMAS rounded Cape Leeuwin and after over 100 days of sailing arrived into Wellington.
After a month recuperating in New Zealand, DUMAS set sail for Chile and 71 days later and spotted the lights of Valparaiso. After a total of well over 200 days at sea, in extremes of weather and isolation, the greatest challenge now lay ahead as DUMAS planned his route around Cape Horn. He left shore in May, aiming to round Cape Horn in the middle of June.
Gales and huge seas awaited, but DUMAS was prepared. He had studied and planned his route over the past ten years. A massive shock to the boat resulted in a broken nose, but he was not to be stopped. He sailed north past Staten Island, leaving the Horn behind and paying tribute to the memory of his Norwegian friend.
DUMAS sailed into Mar del Planta to a hero's welcome. Whilst the world was at world, he had shown another side of the human character - displaying incredible endurance, strength, skill, bravery and sheer bloody-mindedness to achieve his ambition.
Where Are They Now
Following the end of the Second World War, Vito DUMAS (ARG) set sail in Lehg II again, this time from Argentina to New York and back again. In 1955 he again sailed to New York, making the 7,100 mile voyage in 117 days with just one landfall on a new yacht, Sirio.
He was awarded the Slocum Prize by the Joshua Slocum Society in 1957 and the Cruising Club of America's Blue Water Medal in 1959. He died on 28 March 1965.
ISAF In 1943
The International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), suspended its activities during the Second World War. Upon resumption of activities in 1946, Sir Ralph GORE (GBR) was elected as the first ISAF President.