by Teresa Page
Vendée Globe sailor, Conrad Humphreys launches a new sailing campaign that will commence with La Solitaire du Figaro. The programme will kick off in 4 weeks time with the first qualification event, La Solo Les Sables Massif Marine, which will start in Port Olona, the home of the Vendée Globe. This will mark a special return for Conrad as his last single-handed race was the Vendée Globe 2005, where he finished seventh almost exactly 6 years ago.
Conrad switched to multi-hull racing after the Vendée Globe and skippered the Extreme 40 'Motorola' in the inaugural Volvo Extreme Series. He has also been a regular competitor in the Archipelago Raid, finishing fourth in 2008 with Ryan Crawford. Offshore, he has kept his weather and tactical knowledge sharp by navigating for ex CYCA Commodore, Matt Allen onboard his yacht 'Ichi Ban', with strong performances in the last four Sydney Hobart races.
In 2007, Conrad led the host city bid on behalf of the City of Plymouth for The Artemis Transat and more recently, created the new mass-participation event, The Blue Mile – Race for the Environment, with leading environmental charity, WWF-UK. The experience gained from managing these large scale social, economic and environmental programmes has led to Conrad’s company, Sport Environment expanding to offer a full service solution to sponsors, something that Conrad hopes will give a lot of confidence to potential sponsors looking to move into sailing.
The search is now on to secure a major backer for the 2013-2016 IMOCA 60 campaign and the Vendée Globe. Conrad’s programme for the next 18 months has been underwritten by a core family of partners, with the objective that this year’s Figaro campaign and next year’s Transat will be used to offer new partners the chance to 'test the water' before committing to a global campaign.
La Solitaire du Figaro is the 'unofficial world championship of single-handed offshore racing'. It comprises a multi stage race of four legs encompassing the English Channel and Irish Sea, covering nearly 1,695 nautical miles. Identical Figaro Bénéteau 2 yachts sailed by some of the world’s best sailors make this a marathon on the water combining tactics, strategy and weather analysis with close contact racing.
Conrad has been training with the Artemis Academy since last year and has recently secured Bernard Stamm’s Figaro Beneteau which he will base in Plymouth Yacht Haven Marina whilst he prepares and trains for the season ahead. Musto will supply all of Conrad’s technical clothing, Hemisphere Rigging Services will provide race support and rigging, Predict Wind will be working with Conrad as official weather forecasting partner and Noakes, Habermehl & Kerr will provide team eyewear. A brand new social media website at www.conradhumphreys.com, designed and created by Crunch Creative will power the communications.
Conrad Humphreys said:
'The Figaro circuit is one of the most important elements of a professional Vendée campaign and I feel ready to take it on. I’m under no illusions just how good the top guys are and I look forward to learning as much from my participation this year as possible.'
'We need to use the next two years to sail fast, learn lots and communicate well. Our objective is to build a long term partnership and a campaign that is capable of winning the IMOCA World Championships and Vendée Globe by 2016.'
Nigel Musto, Musto Clothing said:
'Musto welcome Conrad back to the world of single handed offshore sailing and the tough challenge in the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro.'
Laura Whinney, Plymouth Yacht Haven said:
'We are delighted to welcome Conrad Humphreys back to Plymouth Yacht Haven where our team and berth holders will lend their enthusiasm and support to his campaign. Plymouth has long been recognized as a world-class centre of yachting excellence and has provided a base for Conrad for many of his campaign preparations over the last 10 years. It is great that he is again choosing our marina facilities and sailing waters from which to prepare for the challenges of the Solitaire du Figaro.'
Peter Noakes, Noakes Habermehl & Kerr:
'Noakes Habermehl & Kerr have looked after Conrad Humphreys eyewear since 2004 and we look forward to supporting his vision both on and off the water.'