Born in Perth in 1939, Jon worked with shearing teams for 17 years, initially as a wool classer and shearing contractor, later owning his own shearing teams.
Since 1970 when he completed his first solo voyage around the world west-to-east mostly sailing through the tropics, Jon has continued to achieve world first solo journey records.
In 1981-82 he was the first man to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent solo, circling twice on the S&S 34 monohull Perie Banou. During the voyage, he passed south of the three great capes: Horn, Good Hope and Leeuwin, before rounding Cape Horn a second time. He turned north to Plymouth, UK and returned south around Good Hope and back to Fremantle. This voyage was recognised widely for Jon being the first single-handed sailor to remain continuously at sea twice around the world, to round the five southern-most Capes twice on one voyage, to round the five southern-most Capes twice, the longest distance, and continuously sailed by any yacht: 48,510 miles (78,070 km), and the longest period alone at sea during a continuous voyage: 419 days: 22 hours: 10 minutes.
Leaving the Royal Perth Yacht Club in 1986 accompanied by a fleet of more than 200 yachts and power boats, Sanders transferred from the Perie Banou to the Parry Endeavour and the start of his next journey. On board, the Parry Endeavour was three and a half tonnes of food, water and fuel. Jon Sanders completed the longest non-stop, solo voyage in 1988 and was the first person to complete three consecutive non-stop, unassisted circumnavigations of the planet.
Arriving back into Fremantle on Sunday 13 March 1988, he had spent 658 days at sea and travelled over 70,000 nautical miles, the longest distance sailed continuously by any vessel.
After all the calms and fickle winds, after all the tempestuous gales – frightening sometimes – after clearing mighty Capes – more than once – after crossing a lot of oceans more than once, after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of days at sea – 658 in all – you can imagine my moment, you can imagine my hour, when I stood on the cockpit ladder step and looked forward as I have done so often before and there dead ahead of the yacht was the Rottnest Island Lighthouse. Home, once more. – Jon Sanders, speaking at the official welcome home celebrations, 13 March 1988.
Jon’s boat, SV Parry Endeavour, is on display at the Fremantle Maritime Museum where it has pride of place next to America’s Cup winner Australia II.
Jon has had a long and illustrious sailing career with many first-time single-handed (solo) sailing records to his name, including: 3 x non-stop circumnavigations 1986-1987 | 5 x Cape Horn roundings (one east-west & four west-east) | 4 x roundings of the five southernmost capes | 1 x circumnavigation using the east-west route | 2 x circumnavigations using the west-east route | Circumnavigate non-stop via Cape Horn west-about and east-about | Skipper of small yacht (less than 15.5m) to complete these voyages and circumnavigations, crewed or single-handed.
He has also competed in seven Sydney-Hobart Yacht Races, the 1979 Parmelia Race Plymouth to Perth and the Cape to Rio de Janeiro Race three times. Jon is a life-time member of the Royal Perth Yacht Club and a Fellow of Curtin University which has partnered with them on each voyage when he has undertaken research.