From Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Published on October 19th, 2016

The eighth Vendée Globe, which begins November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Of the 29 skippers to compete in IMOCA 60s, American Rich Wilson at 66 years is the eldest competitor and 23 year old Swiss sailor Alan Roura is the youngest competitor in the race. Here they comment from their relative positions…

A few thoughts about the Vendée Globe

Alan Roura: “How do you deal with three months alone at sea?”
Rich Wilson: “Just sit back and enjoy the sea, the moon and the stars. It’s incredible. You’re living a dream.”
Alan Roura: “What a great answer!”
Rich Wilson: “You need to take advantage of the support from everyone here in Les Sables d’Olonne. I can remember when I took part for the first time back in 2008-2009. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming to me and my team.”

Any concerns in these final days?

Alan Roura: “Whatever age we are and however old our boats, we all have the same dreams and fears. My biggest worry is not finishing. I haven’t had that much time to prepare for the Vendée Globe, so I’m still in the preparation phase. I haven’t yet grasped that I’m in Les Sables and about to take part in the solo round the world race. I’m pushing aside any questions about stress and worrying. I’m trying not to think about that.”
Rich Wilson: “I don’t feel as much stress as in 2008-2009. But it is good to feel afraid when you’re at sea, as that means you avoid taking unnecessary risks.”

How do you expect to endure such a difficult race?

Alan Roura: “My boat is going to be my home for three months. I’m going to try to eat well, listen to some music, and maybe even watch a couple of films. That’s important as it gives you a boost. The Vendée Globe is certainly a race, but more importantly an adventure that you have to enjoy. You have to feel good on board, take advantage of the simple things, just as in ordinary life. That may mean taking aboard a few things that don’t weigh you down and hinder your performance. Rich and I, we’re not here to win the Vendée Globe. We’re here to enjoy ourselves.”
Rich Wilson: “I agree. Music is very important during the Vendée Globe. In a big storm in the Indian Ocean, I love listening to Bruce Springsteen…or quieter stuff to forget how bad the conditions are, such as Benedictine canticles. Food is another vital element. During the Vendée Globe, you use up 6000 calories a day. You’re eating all the time, so you might as well eat something you enjoy.”

How much will you be connected to the outside world?

Alan Roura: “I don’t have the budget to communicate a lot during the race. That’s fine with me, as I don’t intend to spend all my time in front of the computer or on the phone. I know that the Vendée Globe is a solo race. I will be sharing my adventure, but mostly through texts. And of course, I’ll do what is necessary to get the weather and sail the boat well.”
Rich Wilson: “I entirely agree with Alan. However, I’m setting an educational problem for young people around the world. So I’ll be sending back news each day.”

Any advice from the oldest racer to the youngest?

Rich Wilson: “It’s incredible setting off in this race at the age of just 23. I’m really impressed to see you here. I can remember the start of the Vendée Globe in 2008. I met Ellen MacArthur on the pontoon at six in the morning. She told me I should enjoy myself. So that’s the advice I’m giving you today, Alan.”
Alan Roura: “I’ll certainly do that.”
Rich Wilson: “One thing for certain is that you are going to have an incredible adventure, which you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

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The eighth Vendée Globe, which begins November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Twenty-nine skippers representing four continents and ten nations will set sail on IMOCA 60s in pursuit of the record time set by François Gabart in the 2012-13 race of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes.

For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils, which allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race.


Source: Olivia Maincent and Olivier Bourbon / M&M

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