While the spotlight is clearly on the ill-fated Alex Thomson and his Hugo Boss, currently undergoing repairs, another British skipper has his own race against the clock. Steve White (Spirit of Weymouth) yesterday managed to complete his funding and must now try to catch up on his preparation.
For many of the Vendée Globe solo yachtsmen and yachtswomen, with less than three weeks to go to the start, the days are busy, but enjoyable. Sport sessions, interviews with the media, autograph signings on their partners' stands or sea trials for one final check that everything is in order… Not the most stressful of occupations!
However, the atmosphere is less rosy for two of the British entrants. Alex Thomson has put in place his commando force to get Hugo Boss back in shape. Skilled technicians arrived this morning and Alex is planning to cut away the damaged part of the hull tomorrow (Thursday). A new panel made by the Multiplast yard in Vannes is due to be delivered tomorrow evening or early on Friday.
As for Steve White, he reached les Sables d’Olonne last week without having found all the funding required to line up for the start of the Vendée Globe, which has been his dream for more than ten years.
Tuesday, he received confirmation from a last minute sponsor, which is going to allow him to line up with the 29 other solo sailors. Up until now, Steve had no assistant to help him prepare the boat apart from his family. His first job is finding the craftsmen to get going with the long list of work that needs to be done.
Thanks to some cradles from La Rochelle and the supports from Arnaud Boissières's Akena Vérandas, Steve White was able to take his 60-foot boat, Josh Hall's former Gartmore, out of the water on Wednesday, to repaint the hull below the waterline. This is vital work in order for the boat to glide through the water.
The fair-haired Englishman has ordered four new sails (spinnaker, solent, staysail and mainsail) and some standing rigging for his 60-footer. This short refit is due to last at least a week. And then there were thirty
Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport-Kapsch) today obtained his IMOCA certification, the final document necessary for him to complete his registration papers. The Austrian skipper has therefore become the thirtieth and final entrant to obtain his ticket for the sixth edition of the Vendée Globe. Training for the start
Samantha Davies sailed out to sea today to train for the start. The skipper of Roxy, the legendary 60' boat aboard which Michel Desjoyeaux and Vincent Riou successively won the last two Vendée Globe races, timed how long it took to leave the quayside, pass through the harbour entrance channel, hoist the sails and make her way to the start area off Port Bourgenay. 68,000 !
That was the number of visitors to the Vendée Globe village during the first weekend of it being open. The week has got off to a good start with visits from the first groups of schoolchildren, in spite of some dull weather on Monday. More than 10,000 children are expected to attend during the three weeks leading up to the start of the race. With the sun returning, the conditions are once again ideal for a trip to visit the pontoons and all the events going on in the Vendée Globe village.