Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rounding Antarctica clockwise - The Vendee Globe

The Vendee Globe - November 9, 2008 >>>> o/a February 9, 2009

The rules are simple:

Depart Les SablesD'Olonne, France
Sail around the world 
No outside assistance
Leave Antarctica to starboard
Return to France

For the route, click here.

The French are obsessive about this.  But others have tried their hand: the amazing Brit Ellen MacArthur (at the top of the mast) [2000-2001 - 2d - 94d4h25'40"]; a Mainer transplanted from California - Bruce Schwab in Ocean Planet (a cold-molded woodie)[2004-2005 - 9th, 109d] ; and now Rich Wilson (once a speechwriter for Michael Dukakis seen here with the day after election day French paper in hand) has tried his hand for the 2008-2009 rendition.  [Rich will not be on the Obama transition team.]

It's not easy to beat extemporaneous inventors - people like Michel Desjoyeaux [2000-2001, 1st, 93d3h57'32''], a Frenchman who jury-rigged his diesel motor (needed for electronics and water ballast pumps) to start with wind-power via lines from boom to engine, a line wrapped around the flywheel, like an outboard motor!

The most dramatic parts are the southern ocean (the seas surrounding the white continent) where appalling storms and icebergs threaten the Open 60 skippers.  Don't ask why someone would undertake this voyage.  Just be grateful that someone else is doing it, and you can see the pictures and hear the tales via email and transmissions from the lonely planetary travelers.