In 1993, a man named Vihlen Hugo landed in Falmouth, England after sailing across the Atlantic in his 5'4" boat, Father's Day. The trip took 106 days and set the current record for the smallest boat to successfully make the crossing; this was the second time Vihlen set the record. The history of Atlantic crossings attempted for adventure or to set this record arguably began in 1846 and includes many boat designs, and mariners from diverse backgrounds. You won't find the record in The Guinness Book, but the accomplishment is recognized by both the media and the maritime community.
OBJECTIVE: CROSS nearly 4700 MILES OF OPEN OCEAN FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS TO FLORIDA
The Little Boat Project is meant to test the limits in accomplishing this - to see just how small you can make a boat for the crossing. Matt Kent became fascinated with the engineering and endurance requirements of the vessel and began designing it in 2012. He didn't want to settle for beating a record by inches, and instead is attempting to break the record by nearly two feet. The resulting little boat, Undaunted, that you see on this site may look unconventional, but it makes efficient use of the dimensional limits while embracing a very traditional sail design.
You'll find more information on Undaunted's shape and size on our specifications page.
Matt Kent, the Chief Designer and Founder of the Little Boat Project, has eight years of tall ship sailing experience. The real challenge of this project is not the sailing, however, as mariners have been crossing the Atlantic using the trade winds for centuries. The challenge is in the design of the vessel itself and planning for things like food storage and physical exercise for an estimated 4700 mile voyage in a 3' 6" boat, as well as personal endurance during the projected 3.5-4 months alone at sea. Matt has varied experience with innovative design projects, including building custom aquatic systems, and has embraced the opportunity to expand his understanding of the math and physics required to prepare Undaunted for the voyage.
We want to make it clear, however, that the Little Boat Project is not about just one person setting a record for fame or glory. We hope that everyone involved now and those who look back on it from the future will be inspired by Undaunted's story and begin to look at the world around them for its possibilities of learning and adventure. In a time when high school students can be increasingly disinterested in dry figures and equations on a textbook page, we hope there can be more challenges like the Little Boat Project to connect classrooms to the world outside. It doesn't take a special degree or even an exorbitant amount of money to attempt - or accomplish - something like this; it's basic math and physics that are tied to the real world in a hands-on way, far more interesting than a textbook could make them.
As you'll read on our next page, the fundraising we are doing through the Little Boat Project is going to support The Bioreserve and science education for students in the Albany, New York area.
*You can find an archived file of the LA Times article on Hugo's trip HERE