There is one story left to tell in the epic Vendee Globe Race – with the final sailor still not yet across the finish line. However – one week ago on Feb 25th – another record setter crossed the finish line and that’s the story we want to share with you here. *With no disrespect to the final racer Sebastien Destremau… But we love the story of the Crazy Kiwi sailor, Conrad Colman, who is one of the 18 solo sailors who will have finished the race out of the 29 that started. Conrad’s finish – like all the others before him – is a massive victory (and like we said about Rich Wilson in this blog post, they are all winners for just finishing at all!) for a few special reasons.
Conrad has double nationality from New Zealand and USA and is a graduate of U. Colorado, making him one of the very few English speaking sailors to race in this Vendee Globe. He has circumnavigated 3 times, with this being his first lap around as a solo sailor. He has raced the Mini Transat, Route du Rhum, won the Global Ocean Race and completed his last round the world race on a 60ft IMOCA in the Barcelona World Race. His entry in the 2016-17 Vendee Globe was aboard his green, electric boat Foresight Natural Energy making him the first ever skipper to race solo non stop around the world using no fossil fuels, only renewable energies, his electrical power generated by an innovative electric motor, solar and hydro generated electricity and stored in a bank of high tech batteries.
While that’s an admirable part of Colman’s race, even more impressive is how he finished the race. After being dismasted late on the evening of Friday 10th February, when he was in tenth place and some 250 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal, Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of the 27,440 nautical miles race which started from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6th 2016. Since he was dismasted in what should have been his last big storm of his race, only three and half days from the finish line where he seemed assured of an impressive 10th place, Colman ran out of food and endured his final days on the survival rations from inside his life raft.
Colman, with his tricked out jury rig built from his boom, is the 3rd sailor in history to complete the Vendée Globe under jury rig, taking 16th place in the race with a time of just under 110 days 2 hours.
These few videos below give insight into Colman’s amazing preparations and his imitable skill level – certainly not something that is unique to the race. But his finish under jury rig pushes him to the top of a short stack of sailors who were forced to get themselves and their boats ashore after a dismasting. Colman’s arrival at the finish line was not without great admiration from the French public and his fellow sailors who understood the feat he had just accomplished. And we join them in wishing Conrad a hearty Felicitations for a race very well sailed. We can’t wait to see what he brings to the starting line for the 2020 Vendee Globe race.