2008 Vendée Globe budget entrant aims to beat Jean Luc Van Den Heede

Dorset yachtsman Steve White, who hit the headlines for his budget entry in the 2008 Vendée Globe, will attempt to break the record for a Westabout Solo Circumnavigation.

The voyage, sailing against the prevailing winds and currents, is known as one of the toughest challenges in sailing.

It was first completed by Sir Chay Blyth, in 1970. Since then only four other people have tried it, including Mike Golding and Dee Cafari.

The current record for completing the 22,000 mile course is 122 days, 14 hours and 4 minutes, and is held by Frenchman Jean Luc Van Den Heede.

Father of four Steve, 38, from Dorchester, was eighth in the 2008 Vendée Globe in his Open 60 Toe in the Water.

He will attempt his new challenge in a Volvo Open 70, which would usually be crewed by 10 people. Steve will depart this winter, marking the 40th anniversary of the original record set by Sir Chay Blyth on British Steel, a feat described by The Times in 1970 as the ‘Impossible Voyage’.

Steve said: ‘The record is acknowledged as probably the hardest and certainly the most gruelling in sailing, and I am under no illusions about the enormity of the task in hand, both of sailing upwind and against the current in the Southern Ocean, and about the power and size of the boat we have chosen.’

Steve hopes to ‘fit the record in’ before preparing for the next Vendée Globe in 2012.

Sir Chay Blyth said: It’s wonderful that Steve is planning to attempt what many regard as the ultimate sailing challenge.

‘Hundreds have completed the voyage following the classic Eastabout route but doing this in reverse is a quantum leap removed, which is why only five people have tried it.

It takes a special character to tackle this trip.

The team at White Ocean Racing are currently looking for potential sponsorship partners.

Steve added: ‘I have long pondered this record since reading both Chay’s and Mike Golding’s books on their respective attempts.

‘With a very successful Vendée Globe behind me, and a team with a wealth of experience now in place, I am confident I can do this record justice. I really am more excited about this than I have been about anything else, and I am very much looking forward to crossing the start line. I will leave
between October and December this year, depending on the arrival of a suitable weather window, and how soon we attract a sponsor.’

YM’s Andrew Brook sailed with Steve last week on Toe in the Water and got a taste for what life is like on the high-powered yacht. Read Andrew Brook’s blog here.

For on Steve’s project visit www.whiteoceanracing.com