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A charismatic speaker sharing stories of his adventures on the world’s wildest oceans


Brad Van Liew

travels from USA

Extreme solo sailor known for being one of very few people who have raced by sail around the world alone

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About Brad

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Keynote speaker Brad Van Liew is an extreme sailor and one of very few people who have raced by sail around the globe alone. He has battled extreme weather, emotional despair and extreme hardships in his various excusions and he has an impressive charisma and ability to share his experiences and advice for people in order to improve teamwork, leadership and overcoming hardship.

More people have traveled in space than have raced by sail around the globe alone.  Only 15 Americans have done so. The keynote speaker Brad Van Liew is one of them. In fact, he is the only American to ever finish three solo races around the globe, racking up more than 120,000 miles across oceans.

At 50, Brad is America’s undisputed #1 extreme solo sailor.  He competes in – and has won – the world’s toughest single-handed around-the-world races. Each event requires courage, grit and relentless determination as Brad weathers solitude, sleep deprivation, sparse living conditions, monstrous waves and hurricane-force winds.  Between adventures, he fascinates audiences with his true adventures. He demonstrates how the human spirit triumphs over the most daunting threats of nature, and shows how everyone can benefit from the experiences of extreme athletes.


Speeches Tailored to Your Audience

Our speaker Brad Van Liew loves to share stories of his adventures on the world’s wildest oceans.  He is a gifted and charismatic speaker who has presented to groups as diverse as Sun Microsystems, Wells Fargo, Honeywell, Young Presidents Organization, the American Heart Association, schools, and private yacht clubs.

Brad customizes each speech to the precise needs of clients, turning his amazing personal stories into inspiration for people in any walk of life.  Topics often include leadership, teamwork, following your dream, discovering hidden strengths, preparing for anything, and overcoming both physical hardship and emotional despair.  Listeners walk away convinced that they, too, can accomplish great things.


The Latest Adventure

The sought-after speaker Brad Van Liew recently completed his third solo race around the world, leading the ECO 60 fleet of race boats on every ocean sprint to win the VELUX 5 OCEANS® race.*  He sailed a recycled boat, using every solar and hydro-generating resource he could muster to avoid the use of fossil fuels. He has shared his journey with fans worldwide via websites, blogs, newspapers, broadcast media and social networks.  Brad is currently campaigning to break several trans-Atlantic sailing records and a 24-hour speed record with a team sponsored by Maserati.


Career Highlights

  • Record Breaking Campaigns, Team Maserati, 2011 – Ongoing
  • Winner, VELUX 5 OCEANS race 2010-11
  • Winner, Around Alone Race, 2002-03
  • Third Place, Around Alone Race, 1998-99
  • Executive Director – So. Carolina Maritime Foundation, 2004-09
See keynotes with Brad Van Liew

    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew


    • Motivating yourself and others to achieve extraordinary goals


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew

    Discovering & Maximizing Your Strengths

    • A chronological look at Brad’s journey to discover his best suit


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew

    Teamwork Across Borders

    • How one man inspired his employees to be passionate, selfless, and results driven in their positions, despite often being separated by oceans


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew

    Chasing Your Dream

    • A real-life tale of planning a route to, and ultimately achieving, your passion


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew

    Preparing Yourself for Anything

    • A young father’s balancing act – risking his life but in a responsible way
    • Exploring the intense detailed preparation that prevents mistakes


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew

    Sleep Management

    • Push yourself to the limit – yet stay efficient enough to survive


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew


    • Find financial backing for extreme sports — and keep sponsors happy


    Keynote by Speaker Brad Van Liew


    • Building the fastest boats in the world
    • Nonstop satellite communication from the most remote regions of the planet
    • Dissecting weather imagery and using it for your own purpose – speed or safety
    • Renewable energy solutions that improve our environment

Interview with Brad Van Liew

What is the message you hope people will take away from your presentations?

The underlying message derived from sailing solo around the world three times is that achieving the impossible challenge is possible. The method for achieving this consists of a deliberate “recipe for success” that includes very unexpected but important hurdles to overcome in an effort to manage achieving the ultimate goal. Running the business, team management, sleep deprivation training and an incredible level of detailed knowledge of all pertinent skills become critical elements in managing a solo sailing race around the globe.

How are your keynotes unique?

The presentation is peppered with fantastic video and photographic content that comes as a bi-product of the highly visual and harsh lifestyle reality of sailing solo throughout all of our oceans. The stories are drawn from the most remote geographic areas of the planet. Furthermore, very few people have any real level of understanding of the rarified world of solo racing on some of the fastest sailboats ever built.

The take away impressions of the harsh realities undertaken to achieve what seemed to be an insurmountable goal provide a dramatic and shocking peek into an elite and rarely shared inside perspective. I accomplished a nearly impossible goal not just once, but became the first American in history to achieve the goal three times with two race victories, racing through the utmost hazardous and extreme conditions.

Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?

The previously most recognized American to participate in the sport of solo offshore racing was a man named Mike Plant and he was a true mentor and inspiration to me as I began my career. Mike was lost at sea on the way to the start of a race in France. Ironically, his death drove me away from the sport I love for a few years but was also a strength to me upon my return. His death helped illustrate for me a conflicted but motivational relationship between the pros and cons of this very dangerous game.

I am also greatly inspired by the shear enormity of doing what seems to be the impossible. A sort of “I knew I could do what others say I couldn’t” kind of drive.

What type of audience would benefit from your keynotes?

It has been surprising and rewarding to see the diversity of the audiences who benefit and leave with a real sense of drive from my keynotes. We adapt the presentations to conform to messages that speak to audiences’ lives or work environments in a relative sense. This has proven to be very effective whether speaking to a large group of corporate executives, insurance providers, medical providers, business owners or marine industry leaders.  It seems to be relevant to anyone who is trying to set and achieve lofty goals.

Have you had a unique experience as a keynote?

In the sense that the sport in which I participate is unique and very different than most, I have to say that the standard Q and A session during the closing phase of my presentation ends up regularly being a highly unique experience. This is because the person who has never experienced living with little to no sleep and with zero comforts of any kind for months at a time while in complete solitude and in the most remote part of our planet tends to spawn very interesting curiosities. That’s an enjoyable discussion for me – to answer those unique questions.

How do your sailing experiences relate to business topics such as leadership and management?

This is probably the most surprising reality of my sport and life. Although on the surface the sport seems very solitary and self driven, the reality is that it is an inherently well choreographed team effort between the business elements and the traveling team that helps to maintain and prepare the boat and allow for me to be able to function at peak levels.

A very intricate, delicate business management scenario also exists between the “on the water” performance and delivering the needed return to major corporate sponsors in the form of media results and sales performance. The team effort between all of these elements of the team and partners is absolutely critical. Positive synergies have to exist within all parts of the overall campaign.

What is the best thing about sailing solo?

The best thing about sailing solo is also the worst. It means that the sense of accomplishment is unique. At the end of the day, the on the water performance of the team is exclusively reliant upon the sailor driving the boat. You leave each race with a sense of huge accomplishment for yourself and all the team members that contributed. But, if you make a mistake or underperform the sense of disappointment and need to improve is a very lonely and singular feeling. It is a very high risk, high reward environment, and fortunately I have been very successful despite difficult odds.

See keynotes with Brad Van Liew
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Keynote topics with Brad Van Liew