Getting ready for a round-the-world race

In less than two weeks, I will be updating you on an exciting event. It's a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race known as the Vendée Globe.

Just to qualify is a gruelling matter, and this year 30 skippers are ready to challenge themselves to the limits of endurance. The race begins in France and the sailors will follow the old Clipper Route around the globe. They will sail south in the Atlantic Ocean, round the tip of Africa and then continue East below Australia, out into the vast emptiness of the Pacific Ocean and then round Cape Horn at the tip of South America before heading north in the Atlantic again to return to France.

Weather and fatigue are going to be treacherous. In previous editions, storms have scrambled the field, damaged boats and killed competitors. Everyone hopes for none of these things and for good, fast sailing instead. The winner of the last race (2004-5), Vincent Riou of France, finished in 87 days, 10 hours and 47 minutes.

I hope to follow one boat in particular: The Algimouss Spirit of Canada. It will be skippered by Derek Hatfield, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The boat was prepared in Port Credit, Ontario, not far from where I live.

Hatfield updates his sponsors by posting regular items on the team's website. Here's his latest update:

"As the countdown to the start of the 6th edition of the Vendee Globe clicks away, the Spirit of Canada team continues to carry out final modifications and preparations to make sure that the boat is ready. As you can imagine, one missed detail will result in a performance issue and in a worse case scenario, create a disastrous situation where I might have to stop, leading to disqualification. So, check… check…. check each small component and then check it again and then have someone else check it. The race village is now open and in full swing. Attendance is staggering with the first Sunday seeing 68,000 people on the pontoon. I haven't heard the numbers but this past weekend was even busier and I wouldn't be surprised if over 100,000 people walked past Spirit of Canada. It's impossible for the skippers to walk down the dock as they are swamped with people wanting autographs. It's absolutely unbelievable to have so much attention."

Hatfield reports the boat has passed its safety inspection and can now be loaded with the 84 food bags he will need for the event. The race begins November 9th.

For more information see the race website: Vendée Globe
The Spirit of Canada home page is here.

Photos on this page show Algimouss Spirit of Canada + Derek Hatfield. They are used with permission, courtesy of www.Vendé
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