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Two men, two legs: that’s the GP Challenge 2020

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Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm are beginning a spectacular challenge in summer 2020. They are aiming to sail from Gibraltar to Palermo in 30 days which means sailing close to the wind for 10-12 hours a day. What’s special is that Rüdiger doesn't have any legs following an accident.

“It sounds impossible until someone does it.” This is exactly what Rüdiger Böhm and Lars Kyprian are trying to prove by sailing from Gibraltar to Palermo in 30 days. This in itself is already a major challenge, but it seems even more impressive, given that Rüdiger lost both legs in a cycling accident. “We decided to set ourselves a challenge that forced us to push our own limits. We are hoping that our outside-the-box approach will inspire other people”, says Rüdiger. Because these values are important to AXA, it is supporting this ambitious sailing project as part of the Know You Can campaign. 

How did the challenge come about?

December 2017, an evening with friends. After a glass of prosecco, Rüdiger asked Lars if he was interested in doing a sailing trip with him. “Certainly not”, replied Lars, “How do you think that would work? How would you sail without any legs? Forget it - there’s no way it would work!” This was the experienced sailor’s initial reaction.

But against all odds, the two of them found themselves together on a catamaran on Lake Garda a few months later. After their first trip in the catamaran, the two of them already knew that a sailing adventure in Switzerland wouldn’t be enough. Rüdiger and Lars looked for a sailing challenge that would test their physical and mental limits. The idea emerged of the GP Challenge 2020 – GP normally stands for grand prix. But for the GP Challenge, G stands for departure point and P for the destination. They quickly agreed on Gibraltar as the starting point. And the “next” place beginning with a P was Palermo. Rüdiger immediately knew that they had hit the jackpot. Lars was still skeptical to begin with. Did Rüdiger know how far it was? His companion knew the answer - around 2,020 nautical miles. And the challenge is supposed to take place in summer 2020 - no coincidence. The GP Challenge 2020 was therefore born.

Information about the corona pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has presented all the planning for the GP Challenge 2020 with major difficulties. However, we and the whole crew under Lars Kyprian and Rüdiger Böhm hope that the situation will ease by the end of August and that the GP Challenge 2020 can go ahead as planned.

Overcoming limits

Sailing for 10-12 hours a day for 30 days without a single day’s rest - why would anyone put themselves through such agony? The two friends want to use the GP Challenge 2020 to show what they can achieve as a team and that limits are mainly in the mind. “In life it’s not about what you can’t do, but what you can do”, explains extreme sportsman Rüdiger who also works as a mental coach. And it's also about inclusion in sport. The only thing that is “normal” is that we are all different and have varying strengths - Lars and Rüdiger exemplify this with the GP Challenge 2020. 

“In life it’s not about what you can’t do, but what you can do”.

Rüdiger Böhm, mental coach and extreme sportsman

Clear division of roles on board

The roles on the boat have been clearly assigned: Lars is the captain and sets the course. Rüdiger is mainly responsible for weight distribution and operates the headsail. He maintains radio contact with the motor boat and  monitors wind and compass. Rüdiger can also steer the boat at low wind speeds. This enables Lars to recover on the trampoline.

Lars and Rüdiger will be sailing 2,020 nautical miles in the catamaran which is 5.51 meters long and 2.6 meters wide.

“Recovery is key, as every day is different and we’ll never know in the morning what exactly lies ahead of us. We have no control over the weather or the wind” explains Lars. It is therefore crucial for Lars to choose the right partner: “I’d never do the GP Challenge 2020 with anyone else”, says a confident Lars. He firmly believes that you can only overcome your limits as part of a functioning team. And to do that, you need a reliable partner such as Rüdiger – or AXA. 

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