Steve White finishes Vendee

British skipper Steve White sailed his Open 60, Toe in the Water, across the finish line in light NE’ly winds and brilliant sunshine at Les Sables d’Olonne at 12:38 hours GMT to take eighth place in the Vendée Globe.

Eighth is beyond the wildest dreams of the unpretentious skipper from Dorset. To have four British skippers in the top eight places is a level of success for overseas soloists unprecedented in the legendary non-stop solo round the world race, first contested in 1989.

Steve’s last-minute preparations for the race left him on the verge of exhaustion when he sailed over the start line on November 9th. He survived a first horrendous storm on adrenalin, his wits and considerable seamanship skills.

He only started sailing 12 years ago before becoming a career sailor in 1999-2000, when he worked his way up from crew to become a training skipper for Chay Blyth’s Challenge Business

Steve’s 11-year-old Finot Conq-designed boat completed its third circumnavigation. It was sailed in the Around Alone by Emma Richards’ as Pindar and by Josh Hall in the 2001 Vendee in 111 days 19hrs 48 minutes. Steve bettered this by more than two days on a course made 1,200 miles longer (or four to five days longer) due to the ice security gates. His time was 109 days 36 minutes and 55 seconds

Steve’s engineering and electronic skills stood him in good stead. He is the true self-sufficient soloist, proving himself able to deal with the intricacies and possible frustrations of re-wiring and re-building his aged autopilots, regularly reporting back to Race HQ having spent hours under his chart table of Toe in the Water in the desolate Southern Ocean, stripping and replacing slender wires of the dimension of human hair to resuscitate his fickle pilots.

Along the way his humour was irrepressible, sometimes quintessentially English schoolboy – with his Crikey!, Cor! and ‘I’m dying for a beer’ – while his keen, often wry observations made his blogs both informative, and entertaining, always on the right side of self indulgence and always written with wide-eyed spontaneity.

White averaged 10.78 knots on the water covering 28,197 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 9.49 knots.

Tired but triumphant, Steve was greeted by his wife Kim, and his three sons Jason, 19, Isaac 9, and Euan 6. Of the 30 skippers who started, 19 had to abandon the epic race.