Living , Modern




Accomplishments and Honors:

  • First American sailor to officially finish the Vendee Globe race in 2004-2005
  • 8-time division winner of the Doublehanded Farallones
  • Winner, singlehanded Farallones, 1994
  • Winner, Singlehanded Transpac, 1996
  • Awarded US Sailing’s Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal, 1999
  • Formed the Ocean Planet Foundation, whose mission it is to provide inspirational and empowering classes and programs on the water and by supporting sailing adventures for disadvantaged youth and other young sailors


From Donald Lawson, nominator:

For aspiring offshore ocean racers, few modern day racers have achieved what Bruce has. He built his own American Designed Open 60 and competed against the best in the world, finishing 9th in the 2004-2005 Vendee Globe. He was the first American to finish and still holds the American Non Stop Solo record of 109 days. He also completed the Around Alone in the Open 60 Class 1, finishing after breaking his boom, flooding, and destroying sails. His exploits were so respected, that many in France still talk about his amazing rotating carbon mast boat as a thing of legends!

Unlike many other famous American solo sailors, once Bruce retired from Open 60 racing he gave back to the next generation of sailors. He took hundreds of dreamers and sailors out on his famous boat for a number of years sharing his knowledge and experience to develop the next generation. Bruce’s nonprofit Ocean Planet Foundation was a great learning tool that helped him share his story with kids all over the world. Once Bruce finally sold his great boat Ocean Planet to an aspiring sailor, Bruce continued doing seminars and classes. Now Bruce has a world renowned Energy Company. Bruce is called upon by many top level teams and private owners to install, upgrade, replace their entire power systems and control systems.

If you add in Bruce’s early achievements in winning Solo Transpac races, rescuing sailors during races and the awards for his contributions to sailing, Bruce is the modern day complete American Solo Ocean Sailor.

Early life
Born April 15, 1960 in Oxnard, California, Schwab moved to the Seattle area in 1965. He lived there until 1973 when he went on a three year cruise with his father and two younger brothers. He graduated from Ballard High School in Seattle in 1978 and attended the University of Washington for a short time.
Early career
Starting in 1979, Schwab spent a year in Santa Cruz racing ultra-light displacement sailboats, including crewing on the Moore 24 Ruby. He went on to start working and racing in the San Francisco Bay area in 1980. He began winning shorthanded races in 1983, including the Doublehanded Farallones, in which he eventually was an 8-time division winner. Bruce won his first singlehanded race, the Three Bridge Fiasco, in 1984 on Svendle, a boat borrowed from his employer, Sven Svendsen of Svendsen’s Boat Works. Schwab continued to win one design and PHRF races, with many wins and season championships, but had his most notable results in solo racing.

Schwab launched his highly-modified 1930 30 Square Meter sloop, Rumbleseat at the end of 1993 after resurrecting the vessel from 13 years of dry storage. With Rumbleseat Schwab won the Singlehanded Farallones in 1994, and then the Singlehanded Transpac in 1996. In 1999, Schwab was awarded the US Sailing’s Arthur B. Hanson rescue medal for participating in the rescue of a fellow racer who had capsized his boat in the Doublehanded Farallones Race.

Working as a rigger at Svendsen’s Boat Works allowed Schwab to learn many aspects of boat design, fabrication, painting, composites, and especially preparation for ocean racing. After having worked at Svendsen’s for nearly 20 years, at the end of 1999 he left to form Rumbleseat Rigging. At that time he began efforts to design and build an Open 60 Class boat for the 2000 Vendee Globe Race — which no American had yet officially finished.

Schwab was not able to secure a title sponsor to build his new Open 60 (which is how Open 60 Class boats are typically built). Instead he formed the Made in America Foundation to raise funds and gained further grass roots support for the project. Schwab worked with designer Tom Wylie to develop the boat design which was built at Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, Oregon and christened OceanPlanet.

When Schwab fell short of his objective of having OceanPlanet ready for the 2000 Vendee Globe, fellow American solo Racer Brad Van Liew convinced Schwab to race the 2002-2003 Around Alone race (formerly the BOC Challenge and now the VELUX 5 Oceans Race) upon the boat’s completion.

OceanPlanet had a narrow beam, seawater ballast, and an 80-foot unstayed and rotating carbon fiber mast. Schwab and Wylie discussed the factors that went into OceanPlanet’s design in an interview with Latitude 38 Magazine in August 2001.

Schwab was the only American entered in the Around Alone Open 60 class, and also the only Class 1 entry without a title sponsor (Americans Brad Van Liew and Tim Kent raced in Class 2). In the first leg of the race (to Brixham, England), OceanPlanet’s boom broke, requiring 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km) of sailing without the mainsail to finish the leg. Later in the race, on leg 3 (Cape Town to New Zealand), Schwab suffered a water ballast tank leak which flooded the boat. On leg 4, to Brazil, the boat was hit by a giant breaking wave and the boom broke again. Schwab sailed around Cape Horn without the mainsail, stopping in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands long enough to repair the boom. Schwab made it to the finish of the Around Alone in Newport, Rhode Island on May 5, 2003 becoming the 240th person to solo circumnavigate the globe.

The Vendee Globe
After completing the Around Alone race, Schwab set out to modify his Open 60 racing yacht to prepare for the nonstop Vendee Globe race in 2004-2005, bringing her up to the technical standards of the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The race, starting in Les Sables D’olonne, France, required the sailors to race through the “Roaring Forties” and “Furious Fifties” latitudes. Dangers faced ranged from hitting an iceberg to the high velocity unchecked waves. On February 25, 2005, Schwab completed the Vendee Globe in 9th place becoming the first American to officially finish and the 254th person to solo circumnavigate the globe, with an official time of 109 days, 19 hours, 58 minutes and 57 seconds. This included a sustained average speed of 17.9 knots for over 6 hours, single-handed. Schwab maintained media contact during the race participating in 29 interviews with Ronn Barr of Sports Byline Radio. During the race Schwab operated the OceanPlanet Foundation as an educational forum, as thousands of students and sailors followed the boat and expanded their knowledge of sailing.




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