If you read our recent blog post on the amazingly radical and extreme race around the world that is the Vendee Globe, then you need to check out this dock walk video below featuring an inside look at every boat doing the race (Thank you Sailing Anarchy). And since they are all still at it, with no breakage and no drop outs to date, each of these boats is making it happen, with the current leaders screaming towards the equator at speeds of about 20 knots. On a sailboat. Alone. And often times on autopilot.
Many of the boats were built specifically to win this race. With monohull foiling being cutting edge technology that a handful of skippers are showing off, they really are not only the boats to beat, but also the boats to watch because wow – monohulls are actually foiling. Deep breath. That’s pretty amazing stuff. And then there are the guys – more than half of the 28 of them – going around for different reasons; To educate, to attract attention to the ocean’s health and simply to survive!
A video just released from front runner Alex Thomson (UK) aboard Hugo Boss shows the crazy speeds the front boats are traveling, the amount of water crashing over the decks and the sounds – creaks and groans – coming from the boats. It’s deafening in the video, so imagine the decibels onboard. All this going on while, in the case of the videos they are sending in almost daily, the skipper sits in front of the camera, waves crashing, boat flying – hands on the camera. Not even near the “wheel” or tiller. Look Ma, no hands.
With the entries being almost entirely French, Alex Thomson is the lone Brit who is a front runner and has the amazing “Hugo Boss” boat, a favorite to win. The French invented this race becuase, as you might know, these nuts live for circumnavigating the world alone and in the most fragile and speediest boats they can build.
Of particular interest is Rich Wilson, the lone American doing the race aboard his Open 60, “Great American IV.” A 66-year old Boston, Massachusetts native, Rich considers himself a professional educator, a sailor and adventurer. With graduate degrees from Harvard Business School and MIT,and a college degree from Harvard, Rich was a math teacher in Boston, a Trustee of both the Sea Education Association and The School for Field Studies (a Content Partner for sitesALIVE!), and an Overseer of the Boston Museum of Science.
Wilson is a “cicrumEducator” connecting school kids to the science, math, history and geography that this race offers via his website and at SitesAlive.com. No stranger to ocean racing, Rich and his “Sites Alive” website and “Great American IV” are going for it again, with updates being sent to classrooms daily via podcasts, position reports, blogs and a full curriculum. In the 2008 race, Rich’s teachings reached over 250,000 students – an effort we are proud to acknowledge – as if sailing around the world alone wasn’t hard enough – Rich is really doing it “for the kids.”
Check out SitesAlive.com for his amazing program and logs, a glimpse into the teachings and to wish Rich well on this epic voyage. The video below is a great glimpse into his program. Go Rich!
We wish all the skippers the best – but we have to root for Rich and Alex. Alex to pull of a dramatic win and Rich to make it safely, quickly and without incident for his kids and classrooms following along.