Thoughts on the solo skippers in Vendee Globe


And so a certain stability visits the race (a phrase certain to wreak havoc upon the fleet in hours!) But from Norbert Sedlacek and Raphael Dinelli, thriving on their own personal challenges 5,000 miles behind leader Michel Desjoyeaux – back with the pedal to the metal tonight making over 19 knots – and Roland Jourdain, nearly nine knots slower, this is now a race where the skippers have found their level.

There is no room for pretensions, no hiding place from fear, no fast boat s quicker than the skipper.
The die is very much cast and it now up to them to make what they can. In somewhere around 33-37 days the winner, all things being equal should be back in Les Sables d’Olonne.
Some at the rear end of the fleet have the ambition of simply completing the round the world race to show that their dream was not impossible.

Sedlacek (Nauticsport Kapsch) and Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) knew when they set out from Les Sables that this was more of an adventure than a race. However, their motivation is just as strong: for the former it is a question of completing a project he began in 2000, while for the latter the challenge is finishing the voyage without using fossil fuels.
Rich Wilson (Great American III) and Jonny Malbon (Artemis), representing different ends of the skippers’ age spectrum chose to enter this race to test their aptitude at facing the unknown.

Whatever their reasons, they all know that they will have learnt something about the world around them and, perhaps more about themselves.
For some, the deep south is a revelation: you just need to see the joy on the faces of Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas), Sam Davies (Roxy) and Steve White (Toe in the Water) to know that they will be back again at the start in four years time.
They are truly in the race itself, while their humility is clear.
They accept their vulnerability and that is what makes their pleasure almost indestructible.

Then, there are those, whose ambitions have had to change. We are thinking of Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) who had a remarkable race until he hit a UFO and admits he is finding it difficult to move way from the idea of winning. Then, there is Marc Guillemot (Safran), who went through every emotion possible and now simply wants to finish the race honourably.
Dee Caffari (Aviva), after a great start, could not keep up the merciless pace set by the leaders, and for Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar), he will certainly want to come back to see what he can do on another occasion on a boat which has been fully race tested.

Words: Vendee Globe website
Photo: By Norbert Sedlacek