All about the GP Challenge 2020

Two men, two legs, and one extraordinary challenge. Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm are sailing a catamaran together from Gibraltar to Palermo. That’s a total distance of 2,020 nautical miles. What makes this challenge truly extraordinary is that Rüdiger lost both of his legs in an accident. You’ll find all the background information and the latest updates on the GP Challenge 2020 here.

GP Challenge 2020 ends early

With 2,070 kilometers covered across three countries in 29 days of sailing, the extraordinary goal was almost in sight, but the GP Challenge 2020 was brought to an abrupt and surprising end on Thursday, September 24, 2020, the 29th day.

Sadly, our intrepid sailors and their entire crew fell foul of the COVID-19 situation. Having already crossed into Italian waters, the latest pandemic rules meant that they weren’t allowed to set foot on the mainland to set up their next camp for the night. Travelers from France had been banned from entering Italy not long before they arrived. They had no choice but to sail back to France that same evening – and as if that wasn’t enough, they had to do it in a storm. What an achievement!

We regret that Lars and Rüdiger weren’t able to reach their original destination in Palermo, but we’re incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved over the past month. Despite numerous setbacks along the way, we’ve seen how they never lost their sense of humor or their passion for the project. They covered an unbelievable distance of 123 km on their best day and spent up to ten hours at a time on their little sport catamaran with a surface of just two meters by two meters. The two men and their support crew weathered storms, thunder and lightning, rain, choppy seas, days with no wind, damage to the boat, and much more besides for almost a month and never lost sight of their goal. They always believed: “We can do this!” It’s exactly this kind of self-belief that allows a person to grow and achieve things they never thought possible.

We’re looking forward to the sailors’ return, an exclusive report on the whole Challenge, a film about this incredible journey, and whatever comes next. Lars and Rüdiger couldn’t have provided a better demonstration of what can be achieved with courage and determination, and in the process they’ve inspired many other people to push their own limits. With this in mind, we’d like to wish them a safe journey home and a good recovery.

Know You Can.

Diary entries on the GP Challenge 2020

It all began on August 28, 2020: Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm began their spectacular sailing adventure that was to take them from Gibraltar to Palermo. They have kept us updated with their daily diary entries – until coronavirus prematurely ended the GP Challenge 2020 just before their destination.

Lars Kyprian's and Rüdiger Böhm's entire team would like to thank you for your support! 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 28 - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Day 28 of the challenge and after yesterday's disappointment, we had a fantastic day on the water today! We only had to be towed for a short distance this morning, then we had super wind conditions after that. As we had already reached our destination of St. Tropez by the afternoon, we decided to press on directly as far as Cannes. That means that we covered almost 130 km today. We're delighted and can't wait to see if we'll reach the Italian border tomorrow. Stay tuned. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 27 - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What an up and down day! There were several storms gathering shortly after we left the port of Le Brusc this morning, and we were suddenly surrounded by lightning and strong winds. We were quickly able to take refuge around the next headland before progressing only another ten nautical miles to the next port. The storm continued to rage, and the rain was so heavy that it flooded the streets of Les Sablettes. Have a look at this! We're finishing for the day and as an exception are drying our things out in a hotel because of the weather.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 26 - Monday, September 21, 2020

Having replaced our catamaran's centerboard yesterday, we had a much better day today. The wind was blowing in the right direction and we made excellent progress. Long may it continue! Tomorrow we're heading further north and will hopefully soon reach the Italian border.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 25 - Sunday, September 20, 2020

We were finally able to hoist our sails again and put to sea - but only to collide with a big fish or similar, breaking one of our centerboards. Luckily we were well prepared and had enough spare parts to quickly make our catamaran seaworthy again. We should be able to set off again tomorrow towards Toulon.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 24 - Saturday, September 19, 2020

Unfortunately the enforced break in Sète is continuing today, the wind is too strong, and waves too irregular. Here is our view this morning on the beach. At least it's a good time to do some washing. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 23 - Friday, September 18, 2020

We hit our camp in Sète yesterday evening. However, the wind gradually picked up and was too dangerous for sailing. As we would only have had a maximum time window of two to three hours before the wind was too strong, we decided to submit to nature and remain on land in Sète. It looks as though the conditions will begin to improve in the next four to five days before the Mistral will be swirling around us for around three days at speeds of up to Force 9. Unless this forecast changes, the Mistral will force us to take a land break and we may even have to secure the catamaran on land.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 22 - Thursday, September 17, 2020

What a milestone! Just before completing our daily stage, we crossed the border with France! Crossing the border was very challenging, as it was unbelievably foggy at the start and we were barely able to sail. It was only thanks to a motor boat that we were able to make any progress at all. But the fog dispersed after around three hours, the sun came out, there was enough wind and we were able to cross the French border. 

Update: Day 21 - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

What a milestone! Just before completing our daily stage, we crossed the border with France! Crossing the border was very challenging, as it was unbelievably foggy at the start and we were barely able to sail. It was only thanks to a motor boat that we were able to make any progress at all. But the fog dispersed after around three hours, the sun came out, there was enough wind and we were able to cross the French border. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 20 - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Day 20 – today we continued heading for France. We made good progress, were able to sail for the whole day and completed a decent distance. We arrived in Palamós dog-tired, so now it's "Good night!" 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 19 - Monday, September 14, 2020

Yesterday and today were both rather tough at the start. Due to the lack of wind, we first had to be towed to reach a wind window. We then had a pleasant side wind and were rewarded with fantastic views as we sailed parallel to the Barcelona skyline. Just after Barcelona, we reached our target port of El Masnou.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 18 - Sunday, September 13, 2020

Let’s wait and see what the weather has in store for us today. There’s no wind forecast for the morning, but it should pick up as the day goes on. Whatever the wind decides to do, we’ll make the best of it and stay focused on our goal. Anything’s possible if you’ve got the right attitude. Have a great Sunday, everyone!

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 17 - Saturday, September 12, 2020

Day 17 on the water, and the forecast for today wasn’t great: zero wind in the morning, a little in the middle of the day. We decided to try our luck and set sail anyway to slog our way round the corner of Barcelona, and it paid off! We finally had a steady wind – not too strong, not too weak, and from the right side as well. We covered a good 100 km and reached our destination for the day: Ametlla de Mar. A few more days like this would be fantastic!

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 16 - Friday, September 11, 2020

Sadly, yesterday’s wind forecast wasn’t borne out. There was no wind at all this morning, then a little wind built up, so we sailed as far as we could. The wind let us down again just before our destination for the day, and we had to be towed into port. On top of that, Lars has been suffering from mild sun rash since yesterday. We’re hoping it’ll ease off soon.

Update: Day 15 – Thursday September 10, 2020

Last night was the first really rainy night at our campsite. Even our camera crew, who normally sleep outdoors, had to put up their tents in the dark. It’s not that hot in the mornings anymore, which means that we had to slip into our still-damp neoprene wet suits before starting the next stage. But we won’t let ourselves get dragged down or our moods spoiled by anything like that. Today, if the wind is anything like what was forecast then we should make good progress and be able to put a good number of kilometers behind us. It remains exciting.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 14 – Wednesday, September 9, 2020

We had a lot planned for today because the wind forecast was great. But unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned, as the forecast was way off. We had a light tailwind at the start and made some headway, but shortly afterwards the wind turned so we had to tack against the wind for three to four hours. The bay of Valencia was somewhat better, but then near Valencia a storm front was advancing toward us. We decided to seek refuge in the next harbor. Thankfully, the storm front dispersed and we were able to sail on a few more miles. We just barely made it to our port of destination, Pobla Marina, ahead of another storm. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 13 – Tuesday, September 8, 2020

What a turbulent day! Today, we had unbelievably difficult wind conditions and had to start over with really gusty winds. The wind then changed slightly, but was still very challenging. At a wind force of two Beaufort (Bft), we were suddenly confronted with sudden gusts with a force of seven Bft. Just before Javea, there was a dark rain front approaching, forcing us to seek refuge in a small diver’s bay on the rocky coast. Here, we waited out the weather for about one hour in the pouring rain. With these conditions, we had no other option but to be towed to the harbor of Javea, as the cold had taken hold of us. After we had somewhat warmed up in the harbor and fought our weaker self yet again, we ventured out once more. A few kilometers of heavy swell and we were finally greeted by more pleasant side winds so that we could sail full speed to Oliva. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 12 – Monday, September 7, 2020

Unfortunately today was really wind-still, which was why we felt it necessary to have our boat crew tow us back before the strong winds picked up. We managed to make it back to the harbor of Altea shortly before the first strong gusts of wind came and were warmly greeted there by the regatta club. Overall, we’ve encountered incredibly nice staff at every harbor thus far and have received a lot of encouragement for our endeavor.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 11 - Sunday, 06.09.2020

The wind was a no-show for a good part of the morning, so Day 11 of the Challenge started relatively late, with the crew setting sail at around 10 a.m. Despite a persistent headwind, we made good progress and only had to tack three times. The wind finally turned in the bay of Alicante, bringing us good luck as it did so: we managed to get a good distance behind us without too much tacking. What this also meant, however, was a good seven hours without giving our backsides a rest. We set up camp for the night just after Alicante, and the team's spirits are still good: Everybody has found their notch, everybody knows what's to be done, and we still manage to have fun and enjoy the moment despite the tough days, as can be seen again from today's video updates on Instagram

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 10 - Saturday, 05.09.2020

The morning got off to a full-on start for the crew, as we were forced to negotiate our way round a challenging spot at Cartagena, while battling a strong headwind and a powerful swell. As soon as we had this stretch behind us, however, we powered through 25 km, ending the day with our best distance travelled so far. All in all, a very successful day and one with which we can be very satisfied. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 9 - Friday, 04.09.2020

On Day 9, we were forced to take a welcome day off when the wind we were sailing into was simply too strong. While this was a pity, it was also beneficial: we had time today to "lick our wounds" and to just rest for once. With today's conditions, we could have completed 30 km at most – the conditions would simply have been too dangerous. Our hope now is that we get tomorrow behind us so that we can finally sail north and – with a bit of luck – shake off this headwind.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 8 - Thursday, 03.09.2020

Despite a persistent headwind, overall our GP Challenge 2020 team made good progress today. Coming into the last stages of the day's leg, however, the wind got so strong that we had to head for port earlier than intended.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 7 - Wednesday, 02.09.2020

On day 7 of the challenge, the wind and weather were somewhat more conciliatory. Despite another headwind, our crew made good progress and were able to reach their destination for the day.  They were at least rewarded with a view of the wonderful rocky and steep coast on today's trip. As always, the land crew is looking after our sailing crew admirably, and there is still an excellent and motivational mood throughout the whole team. Under the motto Know You Can, today Rüdiger recorded that "We're fighting on!" And everyone at AXA is keeping their fingers crossed that they do just that. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 6 - Tuesday, 01.09.2020

The wind is not very well disposed towards our team at the moment. After a quick and promising start directly from the beach at the overnight camp, the wind disappeared again and the catamaran barely made any progress today. In the middle of Almería Bay, the wind died down completely and a long wait was in store. Just before dusk, they both had to be towed by the dinghy and brought onto land to prevent a dangerous night journey. We're all hoping for more wind tomorrow, as soon as it's in a north-easterly direction.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 5 - Monday, 31.08.2020

Our crew successfully set sail from Calahonda at the beginning of the new week, but during the morning, there was barely any wind for around 3 hours. The wind increased in the afternoon, reaching storm force which meant that Lars and Rüdi had to give up on the last 4 km of the daily leg and make an "emergency landing" directly on the beach. By doing so, the catamaran could at least be rolled straight to the campsite where the land crew plied our heroes with kilos of fresh prawns and potato salad.

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 4 - Sunday, 30.8.2020

On the fourth day, Rüdiger Böhm and Lars Kyprian had to sail against the wind for almost the whole distance. They covered around 70 km using the trapeze.  After more than 100 km they reached their camp in Calahonda today. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 3 - Saturday, 29.8.

What a day! Today, our adventurers well and truly flew across the bay of Torre Del Mar. Despite warnings of strong winds, they crossed the bay in just 2 hours 50 minutes. This evening, there was finally time for a refreshing dip in the pool. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 2 - Friday, 28.8.2020

On the second day too, our crew again had to deal with extreme changes in the wind. With gusts reaching 7 on the Beaufort scale, they faced waves up to 3 meters high in their small sports catamaran! Unfortunately the photographer's mobile phone didn't survive, and the two cameramen got so seasick they ended up feeding the fish.
And then suddenly it was totally calm again for two hours. Exhausted and worn out, they again didn't make camp until late in the evening. 

© Michele Di Fede

Update: Day 1 - Thursday, 27.8.2020

Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm, our two sailors, got off to a great start on the first day of the GP Challenge 2020, though they also faced some major problems along the way. No sooner had they set off than the mainsheet block (used to operate the main sail) ripped in extremely high winds measuring 6-7 on the Beaufort scale (up to 61 km/h) and had to be patched up.
The wind then gradually dropped until it was completely calm in the afternoon. Not until late in the evening at around 10 o'clock could the crew pitch their tents just before Estepona.

© Michele Di Fede

Where will they be taking their catamaran?

The route from Gibraltar to Palermo is 2,020 nautical miles long.

Behind the scenes

Find out how Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm ended up creating the GP Challenge.

  • Teaser Image
    Official site: GP Challenge 2020 | 2 men – 2 legs

    You can find out even more on the GP Challenge 2020 site set up by Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm.

    To the official GP Challenge site

How is AXA supporting the GP Challenge 2020?

With the GP Challenge 2020, Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm are thinking outside the box and aiming to prove that the seemingly impossible can be achieved. AXA embraces these values and is thus supporting this ambitious sailing project as part of its “Know You Can” campaign, which is all about helping people who believe that they can do anything they set their mind to. Self-belief, determination, and staying power are vital to every success. 

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