Alex Whitworth, a Maltese who lives in Australia, yesterday sailed into Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, on the first stop in a round-the-world trip with the final destination being England.

Mr Whitworth, 62, together with Peter Crozier, 59, set sail from Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day in a 33-foot yacht called Berrimilla, designed by Peter Joubert and built 27 years ago.

On January 3 they set sail for New Zealand, on to the mid-Pacific Ocean, then headed south towards the Horn and then on to Port Stanley.

The crew are keeping a daily log. Writing in it upon entry at Port Stanley, Mr Crozier wrote: "Berri has put in a huge effort - she's nearly 30. I'm 59 and Alex is 62 and we need a boat that can look after us and not demand attention. Berri is all of that. The boat does all the hard work, she accepts most of the wind and waves punishment, we pull the strings and point her in the right direction.

"To anyone out there thinking of making a trip like this, as well as an excellent boat you must have prudence and patience. The southern ocean is very unforgiving and you can only do what it allows you to do, not what you want to do. Its ability to dominate a small boat lets you know quickly who runs the business out there."

Contacted yesterday, Mr Whitworth's mother, Ethel, who turned 90 last week and lives in Birguma, said she was pleased to hear they had made it to Port Stanley. Her other children were in touch with her son via the internet and kept her posted about his progress.

Mr Whitworth and Mr Crozier plan to be in England by June, to take part in Fastnet, a 608-mile race from England to Fastnet, on the south west coast of Ireland, and back.

They will then return to Sydney, probably calling at Gibraltar, Cape Town and Melbourne on the way. They hope to be back in Sydney in time to again compete in the Sydney-Hobart race in December.

Mr Whitworth, a sailing instructor, and Mr Crozier had been talking about doing the trip for years.

Mr Whitworth has sailed numerous Sydney-Hobart races and the tough Gosford to Lord Howe Island race. In the 1998 race, most of the participants withdrew due to a freak storm and six crewmen of other yachts vanished, but the Berrmilla, skippered by Mr Whitworth, made it.

Mr Whitworth is the son of a Fleet Air Arm pilot and, according to his mother, "now he lives for the sea".

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