Jimmy Cornell

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Short biography • Long biography • Bibliography

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Short biography

An accomplished sailor and successful author, Jimmy Cornell has sailed over 200,000 miles in all oceans of the world including three circumnavigations as well as voyages to Antarctica, Patagonia, Alaska, Greenland, Arctic Canada and Spitsbergen.

Thousands of sailors have fulfilled their dream of blue water cruising with the help of Jimmy Cornell’s books, among them the international bestseller World Cruising Routes. Now in its 7th edition, and with 200,000 copies sold to date, this is one of the best selling nautical publications in the world.

As the founder of the highly successful ARC transatlantic rally, Jimmy Cornell is credited with having devised the offshore cruising rally concept. In the last three decades, Jimmy Cornell has organized 32 transatlantic rallies, five round the world rallies and one round the world race, with over 3,000 boats and 15,000 sailors having participated in his sailing events. His new series of rallies aimed at cruising sailors: the Atlantic and Blue Planet Odysseys now span the world.

The Blue Planet Odyssey 2014-17 round the world event aimed at raising awareness of the global effects of climate change. Reflecting the growing concern for the state of the oceans, participants are carried the message “The ocean, our future”. During their voyage, they are engaged in oceanographic and meteorological research programs under the auspices of UNESCO-IOC and NOAA.

Nowhere are the consequences of climate change more noticeable than in the Northwest Passage. After an unsuccessful attempt to transit the Northwest Passage in 2014, in 2015 Jimmy made a successful transit from west to east on his new Aventura. Conceived by him as an ideal cruising boat for both high latitude and tropical sailing, the Garcia Exploration 45 design won the SAIL 2015 Best Boat award.

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Long Biography

Jimmy Cornell was born in Romania in 1940. He grew up in Brasov and later attended Bucharest University where he studied economics. With his British wife Gwenda, he moved to London in 1969. He took up sailing while working as a reporter for the BBC World Service in London.

Jimmy Cornell aboard Aventura I in 1974

In 1974 Jimmy Cornell fitted out himself a 36 foot fibreglass hull (a Trintella III, van de Stadt design – the first Aventura). In 1975 he left England with Gwenda and their two children (Doina 7 and Ivan 5) on a world voyage lasting six years, which took them to some 70 countries and totalled 68,000 miles. During the voyage Jimmy Cornell sent back regular radio reports to the BBC World Service.

A second Aventura (Bill Dixon design, 12 metre/40 feet in steel) was launched in 1989 and completed a circumnavigation between 1989 and 1992, some of which was part of the first round the world rally organized by Jimmy between 1991 and 1992

Aventura III (an OVNI 43 designed by Philippe Briand and built in France) was launched in May 1998 and sailed in 1999 to Antarctica. From there Aventura III sailed to Alaska and British Columbia, and was shipped back to the Mediterranean. In 2001 Jimmy started his third circumnavigation of the world which he completed in 2006.

To date Jimmy Cornell has sailed over 200,000 miles in all oceans of the world, including three circumnavigations and two voyages to Antarctica and two to the Arctic.

Aventura Routes 1974-2015 (click on map to enlarge)

In his writing, Jimmy Cornell decided to tackle the various aspects of sailing and offshore cruising in a systematic way, and he conducted extensive surveys with cruising sailors in all oceans of the world, dealing with every aspect of voyaging under sail.

Jimmy Cornell’s reputation as a writer on cruising matters was consolidated by the publication in 1987 of World Cruising Routes, which became an international best-seller, and has been translated into French, German, Spanish and Italian. Now in its seventh edition, World Cruising Routes has sold nearly 200,000 copies and is one of the best-selling nautical publications in the world.

Jimmy Cornell is the author of 16 books, which have been translated into several languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian and Japanese.

In 1986 Cornell launched and organised the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. As a result of the success of the first ARC he founded the World Cruising Club which specialises in international sailing events. Between 1986 and 2000, Jimmy organized five round the world rallies, the America 500 Columbus anniversary rally in 1992, the Hong Kong Challenge round the world race in 1996 as well as the annual ARC transatlantic rally. Jimmy sold his interest in World Cruising Club and ceased his activity as a sailing event organiser in 2000.

Jimmy Cornell’s most ambitious project was the Millennium Odyssey round the world rally, which started in August 1998 to celebrate the new millennium. The round the world rally, which was sponsored by the Government of the Canary Islands, finished in Rome in April 2000, when the Millennium Flame, that had been lit in Jerusalem and had been carried around the world by the yachts sailing in the rally, was handed over to Pope John Paul II in Rome on Easter Monday 2000. Fifty yachts sailed in the Millennium Odyssey, making it the largest ever round the world event.

In December 2000, Jimmy Cornell launched www.noonsite.com, a website dedicated to cruising sailors. The website contains practical information on all maritime nations of the world and is considered an essential source of information by thousands of cruising sailors. Noonsite is now one of the most successful sailing sites on the internet and attracts on average over one million hits per month.

In 2007 Jimmy wrote and published A Passion for the Sea, Reflections on three Circumnavigations. The book is based on Jimmy Cornell’s extensive knowledge of offshore cruising gained both from his personal experience that stretches over more than three decades and three circumnavigations. The book deals with all essential aspects of offshore cruising and every specific subject is dealt with in an informative and entertaining manner, backed up by some telling incidents from the author’s wide-ranging practical experience. In 2017 he published a thoroughly revised and updated new version, entitled 200,000 miles – A Life of Adventure.

Jimmy Cornell continues to be cruising’s most influential writer. In 2010 he wrote World Cruising Destinations, which gives practical information on 184 maritime nations. In 2011, Jimmy Cornell, together with son Ivan, created Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, the first set of pilot charts to be based on recent satellite data of world winds and currents.

Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Series was completed in 2012 by the publication of World Voyage Planner whose aim is to help sailors plan a voyage from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world, with suggestions of alternative routes to certain destinations, recommended times and favourable seasons, tropical storm areas and critical months, and strategically located ports of call to be used in an emergency.

Jimmy Cornell’s current sailing events are the Odyssey sailing rallies, which cross the Atlantic in November and January each year. Recent rallies have also included the Blue Planet Odyssey, a round the world event that took place from 2014-17 and aimed to raise awareness of the global effects of climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to extinguish island communities such as Tuvalu in the Pacific, as well as Barbados 50, a transatlantic rally from London to Barbados, which celebrated 50 years of the Caribbean island’s independence in 2016.

Aventura, Jimmy Cornell’s fourth boat, was launched in 2014 as the prototype of a new design, the Garcia Exploration 45, designed to sail and live aboard both in high latitudes and tropical waters. In 2015 Jimmy successfully navigated the Northwest Passage in Aventura.

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Books by Jimmy Cornell

English language editions (UK and USA):

Modern Ocean Cruising, 1982, Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

Ocean Cruising Survey, 1984, Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

World Cruising Routes, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2008 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA) – 2014, 2017 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), 2014 Cornell Sailing (USA)

World Cruising Survey, 1989 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

World Cruising Handbook, 1990, 1996, 2001 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

World Cruising Essentials (Survey in the UK), 2002 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

Canary Islands Cruising Guide, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1998 World Cruising Publications

Around the World Rally, 1992, Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), International Marine (USA)

Azores Cruising Guide, 1993, World Cruising Publications

Madeira Cruising Guide, 1994, World Cruising Publications

Circumnavigators Guide, 1994, World Cruising Publications

World Cruising Guide, 1995, World Cruising Publications

A Passion for the Sea, 2008, Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), Bloomsbury (USA)

World Cruising Destinations: 2010 Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), McGraw-Hill (USA) –  2017, Adlard Coles Nautical (UK), Cornell Sailing (USA)

Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, 2011: English, French, German, Italian editions – Cornell Sailing Publications

World Voyage Planner, 2012: Cornell Sailing Publications (US edition), Adlard Coles Nautical (UK edition)

200,000 Miles, A Life of Adventure, 2017, Cornell Sailing

Foreign language editions:

World Cruising Routes– Italian edition 1989

World Cruising Survey– Japanese edition 1992

World Cruising Survey Skipper Tipps– German edition 1990

Aventura– Romanian edition, 1996

World Cruising Routes (Segelrouten der Welt)– German editions 1988, 1994, 1998, 2005, 2015

World Cruising Handbook (Seglerlexikon)– German editions 1990, 1995, 2000

Atlantic Islands – German edition 1999

Routes de Grande Croisière – French editions 1999, 2000, 2005, 2015

Escales de Grande Croisière – French editions 2001, 2005

Objectif Grande Croisière – French edition 2002

Segeln Uber Ozeane (World Cruising Survey) – German edition 2003.

A Passion for the Sea – German, French, Italian, Hungarian editions (2008)

World Cruising Routes – Spanish edition (Editorial El Juventud), 2010

World Cruising Destinations (Traumreviere der Welt) – German edition (Delius Klasing), 2011

World Cruising Destinations (Destinazione per Tutto il Mondo) – Italian edition (Il Frangente), 2011

Cornell’s Ocean Atlas – German, French and Italian editions (2011).

World Voyage Planner (Voyages de Grande Croisière) – French edition 2012

World Voyage Planner (Törnplanen Weltweit) – German edition (Delius Klasing), 2013

World Cruising Destinations (Destinations de Grande Croisière) – French edition (Cornell Sailing), 2014