Last weekend, I was lucky enough to head to Les Sables D’Olonne for the start of the 2016 Vendee Globe. Now for you non-sailor types out there, the Vendee is the absolute epic of Ocean racing…
The Vendée Globe is the hardest and most famous sailing race in the world. Nicknamed the Everest of the Seas, it involves sailing around the world alone, without stopping and without assistance, setting sail from and finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne, after rounding the three legendary capes: The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Southern Australia and the infamous Cape Horn at the tip of South America. They therefore have to sail twice in the North and South Atlantic – on the way down and on the way back – and sail around Antarctica by crossing the Indian Ocean and the huge Pacific. Like other major international sporting events (the Olympics, World Cup, etc) it has been organised every four years since 1989. This merciless event, which combines human endeavour and technological aspects, is raced on 60-foot monohulls (18.28 m), IMOCA boats
– via www.vendeeglobe.org
It’s no secret that to compete in the Vendee has been a long-standing ambition of mine, and I can tell you that being there to experience the start certainly hasn’t changed my mind!
I was lucky enough to be able to take my stunning XC90 on a road trip- thanks to the lovely people at Volvo and Into the Blue for sorting that!!
It was nice to drive the car around without a huge trailer and keelboat attached to the back, and there really is nothing so comfy or safe to drive- Volt has almost become like my favourite handbag, something I cannot live without!
The atmosphere in Les Sables is like nothing else- the French really know how to do events, especially sailing events; a huge race village has been set up, with exhibitions, entertainment and restaurants, and the pontoons with the boats are open to the general public- plus its all free to access!
Now I’ve been to 4 Paralympic Games; I’ve seen big openings, but the feeling here was different, yes it is after all a race, but at the same time its about human challenge- 29 sailors setting off to sail around the world-single handed with no help and no stops!!
So a few of you might be thinking “single-handed” yes I technically already meet that criteria, and yes I am also crazy enough to think that I can sail around the World alone, even with a disability! I would be the first person to ever attempt to race the Vendee as such, and that in itself is a scary concept… Of course there are a few bits to do on the way….
In order to get myself to the start-line in the best possible shape, I’m going to need a fair bit of help, seeing as my offshore experience is pretty limited! For now I have teamed up with Conrad Manning to launch a joint venture helping each other to get to the Vendee in 2020; we are the first people to ever attempt a “team” approach like this, and its certainly an unusual route… We are currently in the market for a Class 40 to train on, and in the meantime, the lovely people over at Dream or Two sailing have offered theirs to help us get on our way!
So for now thats it… There’s a lot going on in the background, and a few of you may have seen already the name for the new project on Instagram… Chimera racing has been formed, and I can’t wait!