Rutherford, a 30-year-old Maryland resident, has rounded Cape Horn in the final leg of a 300-day odyssey circumnavigating North and South America in a 27-foot sailboat. When finished, Rutherford will be the first person to do the 25,000-mile voyage alone and without stopping. His motivation for the trip is to show people, particularly those with disabilities, that there are no limits to what can be accomplished in life, and raise money for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a nonprofit sailing program for people with disabilities based in Annapolis, Md.
“In sailing terms, ‘Rounding the Horn’ is the most difficult left-hand turn a sailor can make and taking that turn single-handedly is nothing short of remarkable,” said Gary Jobson, president of US SAILING. “Matt’s journey in a 40-year old, 27-foot sailboat through treacherous, deep ocean waters, completely alone for 300 days, is one for the record books. He is truly proving that there are no limits to what a person can do.”
During the first leg of his trek, Rutherford broke a record by singlehandedly sailing the smallest boat in history through the Northwest Passage, which is a small water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific along the northern coast of Alaska.
Before even reaching the Northwest Passage, he dodged icebergs the size of office buildings, was hammered by severe storms, and suffered the loss of several pieces of failed equipment.
Rutherford is accustomed to challenges. After a rocky childhood and string of school expulsions, he found salvation in a headmaster who helped him get on track. Inspired by a realization that life held limitless opportunity, Rutherford embarked on a series of journeys that took him across the world. Then, in his early 20s, he taught himself how to sail.
In the spring of 2010, shortly after returning from his second single-handed transatlantic passage, Rutherford found CRAB and began volunteering for the organization. Soon after, he devised his fundraising voyage around the Americas. The 27-foot Albin Vega was donated and Rutherford raised funds to retrofit it for the 25,000-mile ocean voyage.
To track Rutherford’s progress or make a donation to CRAB, go to http://www.solotheamericas.org/.