Conrad Colman: Finding the Force Within
Published on February 24th, 2017
Conrad Colman (NZL/USA) wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig. He took 16th place when he finished on February 24 at 1400hrs UTC, completing the course in 110 days 1 hour 58 minutes and 41 seconds.
After being dismasted late on the evening of February 10 when he was in tenth place, Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which allowed him to sail the final 739 nm of the 27,440 nm race which started from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6, 2016.
Colman shares his comments after the finish:
I’m thankful as I had so many difficulties. Several times a problem with the pilot. Then there was the fire. That normally would be a highlight in terms of problems, but as it is, that was almost nothing. So it was a progression of things, which allowed me not to be crushed when the mast came down, so now I’m stronger.
I feel like I have moved mountains to achieve what I did. I did the very best with what I had. You don’t win the race at sea. You lose it at sea. You win the race during the preparation, but my time to prepare was very short.
The wind gods are a fickle bunch. I got smacked several times. When I couldn’t escape from the big storm, I had sixty knots.
Mentally, it’s easier to sail with a jury rig, because when you have all the sails up, you are crazy. You go for it in the race. But with a small sail, you can relax. I spent time adjusting it, but there isn’t much you can do.
It’s harder sailing solo, especially mentally. There’s no one there to support you. I kept telling myself, there’s always a solution and I will find it. There’s a dialogue going on in your head all the time. I ended up talking to myself, so I’m not sure if it’s healthy. You have to find confidence while remaining humble. You need to find the force within, rather than from outside.
Natural energy? It’s an extension of everything I have said. We can do it if we want to. I think it is impossible to sail three times around the world and see the natural environment without being affected. I think we need to change the way we live our lives.
It has to come from politics, from industry and I’m a little afraid that there isn’t the political will, so I think what may drive this change is motivated individuals. That is why I wanted to grasp this opportunity. We can still do what we want and use the technology we want. I was handicapped by not being able to use all my solar panels. We have to diversify production and it’s the same thing on a boat.
Writing? It’s central for several reasons. I came into this sport as a fan. I was trying to figure what to do with my life. I really appreciated the stories, seeing Vincent Riou win in 2004. That was truly inspirational and led me to believe I could do the same.
The lifestyle I lead is very interesting, technologically, the people I meet, the life I lead, and I feel that it’s almost an obligation to share that with those that don’t have the same chance as I do. I enjoy writing and enjoy the idea that I’m sharing that with others.
I’d like to give this race the respect it deserves. It’s not something you can throw together over a few months. That means more time preparing.
I know what it is like in families where something is missing. I lost my father when I was just a baby. My brother committed suicide two years ago. I thought a lot about that. And this was another motivation in my race.
Final Results (Top 10 of 29)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Finished, 74d 03h 35m 46s (1/19/17)
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), Finished, 74d 19h 35m 15s (1/20/17)
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), Finished, 78d 06h 38m 40s (1/23/17)
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Finished, 80d 01h 45m 45s (1/25/17)
5. Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies, (FRA), Finished, 80d 03h 11m 09s (1/25/17)
6. Finistère Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), Finished, 80d 06h 41m 54s (1/25/17)
7. Bureau Vallée, Louis Burton (FRA), Finished, 87d 21h 45m 49s (2/2/17)
8. Spirit of Hungary, Nándor Fa (HUN), Finished, 93d 22h 52m 09s (2/8/17)
9. CommeUnSeulHomme, Eric Bellion (FRA), Finished, 99d 04h 56m (2/13/17)
10. La Mie Câline, Arnaud Boissière (FRA), Finished, 102d 20h 24m 09s (2/17/17)
The eighth Vendée Globe, which began 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 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: six new boats (Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, No Way Back, Safran, and StMichel-Virbac) and one older generation boat (Maitre Coq). The foils 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.
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
December 18, Day 43 – Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord, UFO collision
December 24, Day 49 – Stéphane Le Diraison, Compagnie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt, dismasted
December 24, Day 49 – Paul Meilhat, SMA, keel ram failure
January 1, Day 57 – Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland, dismasted
Source: Vendee Globe