Hardcore Round-the-World Yacht Race to Engage Students

Teachers can resort to some elaborate stunts to get their student’s attention, but one former teacher turned solo-round-the-world sailor is taking the idea to new and dangerous levels.

Rich Wilson will compete in the Vendée Globe non-stop single-handed around the world race in November, and more than 500,000 school kids will be following him on his adventure.

The Vendée Globe  is billed as the most dangerous sailing race on the planet. It means sailing 28,000 miles around the world alone, with a start and finish in Les Sables d’Olonne in Brittany, France, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Southern Australia and the infamous Cape Horn at the tip of South America.

Wilson, who has won the Newport to Bermuda race and holds three world sailing records, at first decided the vendee Globe was just too hard core, but finally did the race, sailing in 60 foot IMOCA class boats eight years ago with 30 other skippers.

Sailing 28,790 miles in 121 days, he sustained broken ribs, a facial gash and compressed vertebrae, and came in 9th of the only eleven skippers who finished the race.

So, what better way to help kids learn, right? As such,  Wilson will invite 500,000 students and schools in 45 countries to participate. He holds degrees from Harvard, MIT and Harvard Business School, and was a math teacher in the Boston school system.

“Excite a kid with bats, bugs, and snakes in the rain forest, or with gales, flying fish, and dolphins at sea, and they will pay attention not knowing what will happen next,” Wilson said in a press release. “Then the science, geography, and math flow freely.”

That all may be true, but maybe to really engage the kids, an aide could douse them with a bucket of cold water every three minutes, and roll their desk back and forth at extreme angles.

Not terribly scientific, but effective, we think.