, 2022-10-26 10:30:34,
One of offshore racing’s most celebrated skippers, Mike Birch, who won the first edition of the Route du Rhum on a 36ft trimaran in 1978, has died aged 90
One of offshore racing’s greatest heroes, Canadian Mike Birch, has died at the age of 90.
Legendary Canadian skipper Mike Birch won the first edition of the Route du Rhum in 1978, crossing the finish line on the diminutive yellow trimaran Olympus Photo just 98 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Michel Malinovsky’s mighty 21m yacht Kriter V.
Birch’s win was a catalyst to a revolution in offshore sailing, the reverberations of which are still being felt today: cast iron proof that – in the right hands – multihulls could be as fast, or faster, than monohulls over long ocean crossings.
Born in Vancouver, Canada on 1 November 1931, Birch had a varied career which included working as a gold miner, on oil derricks, as a mechanic – where he developed a love of beautiful sports cars, and even as a real-life cowboy competing in rodeos, before he began sailing full-time.
Birch was in his mid-40s when he moved into offshore racing. After working as a delivery skipper in Dartmouth in the 1970s he entered the 1976 OSTAR in the 32ft trimaran Third Turtle and finished 2nd, not far behind Eric Tabarly’s 73ft Pen Duick VI.
Two years later, he won the Route du Rhum in the smallest boat in the fleet, the 30ft tri Olympus Photo. The nail-biting finish which was…
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