Shore team prepares to ship BT home

Just one week after having notified the Vendée Globe Race Committee that he was officially pulling out of the competition due to rudder damage, Sébastien Josse reached New Zealand and the safe waters of Viaduct Basin in Auckland yesterday at 23.45 GMT. BT, which was knocked down by a wave in horrendous weather conditions on Boxing Day, suffered rudder problems that proved unsolvable onboard, and had to retire after having spent the whole race in the leading pack.

Arriving ashore, Josse said: ‘It’s great to see the guys from the team, and I really enjoy their welcome, but I can’t help thinking that my former rivals in the race have now rounded Cape Horn and are on the last stretch, headed for home. The hardest part had almost been dealt with for me, I was in the leading pack where I wanted without putting the boat or myself at risk, and I was really anxiously waiting to be back in the Atlantic because I knew I could potentially make great gains there: I wanted that tactical battle, and BT is very fast both upwind and in medium to light conditions. I was waiting for my hour, and it’s hard to be watching the game from the side of the pitch.

‘Looking at the bright side of things, we have a boat in one piece, I have spent a week taking notes on what can be optimised and made better for the 2009 season. It is of course a hassle to organise a cargo ship to take BT back to our base, but I’ve learnt a lot, once more, and that aborted Vendée Globe at least proved that I was right up there with the best of the fleet, both in terms of speed and tactics. I’ll be back on the water very soon … but right now, what I want is a haircut, a nice shower, a decent meal and a good night in a bed!’

The shore team is now keeping busy making travel arrangements for the IMOCA 60 and planning her refit in Lorient, France, before the first training sessions start in Port la Foret in May. BT will then take part in the crewed Calais Round Britain Race on June 21, the classic Rolex Fastnet Race on August 9 and in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from France to Costa Rica on November 7.