British Vendée skipper secures last-minute funding

While repairs to Alex Thomson’s Open 60 continue after its much-publicised altercation with a trawler, out of the limelight another British skipper is also in a race against time to reach the startline. Steve White, skipper of 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!

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. He has remortgaged his house to take part in the event. Yesterday he received confirmation of a last minute sponsor, which will 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, he was able to take his Open 60, Josh Hall’s former Gartmore, the oldest boat in the fleet, out of the water on Wednesday, to repaint the hull below the waterline.

He 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. The clock is ticking!

But at least the stresses are reducing, it is a matter of time and human effort to make the boat ready:

Steve said, “You have a jobs list. You get up in the morning and if necessary you stay up through the next night and the next until there are no jobs left, or more accurately the jobs left are not big ones, so you are in a state where you can go. That is only work. The problem and the stress has been when everything has been in the hands of other people. When you have sponsors who may or may not decide to help, or may or may not decide to call you back, that is a difficult way to live. But here, now, everything is in our control it is just a question of doing the work.” Keep up with the build-up to this exciting race on the Vendée Globe website.