Steve White Takes Eighth Place In The Vendee Globe Race
Finally triumphing after a frustrating duel with the prolonged easterly headwinds in the Bay of Biscay, British solo skipper Steve White sailed his Open 60 Toe in the Water across the finish line in light NE’ly winds and brilliant sunshine at Les Sables d’Olonne’s South Nouch mark this morning/afternoon at 12:38:55 hours GMT to take a commendable eighth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.
White averaged 10.78 knots on the water covering 28,197 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 9.49 knots.
Tired but triumphant, 109 days 00 hours, 36 minutes and 55 seconds after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 9th, White was greeted by his wife Kim, and his three sons Jason, 19, Isaac 9, and Euan 6. He is the fourth British skipper to complete the race. Of the 30 skippers who started from the Vendée town over three and a half months ago, 19 had to abandon.
Of the seven British skippers who started the race, three were forced to retire. As White finishes, British skippers occupy four of the top eight places, a level of success for overseas soloists which is unprecedented in the legendary non-stop solo round the world race which was first contested in 1989.
His eleven year old Finot Conq designed boat completed its third circumnavigation. Previously Gartmore, which also completed the Around Alone as Emma Richards’ Pindar, as Toe in the Water White also bettered Josh Hall’s 2001 race time for the boat (111days 19hrs 48 minutes) by more than two days on a course which is made more than 1200 miles (or four to five days) longer due to the ice security gates.
Steve White seemed almost taken aback by his reception today. “I thought I would just be able to sneak in and go to the pub!” was the first thing he said when he reached the dock in Port Olona. But he thanked everyone for turning out to to see him in. Here are the highlights of his press conference:
What did he think of his race? “Fantastic……….all of it that I can remember.”
“ I think the crucial thing that we all agree on in this race is that the mast stays up. We’d actually managed to re-rig the boat for this race, every time we used the boat before, and a lot of the times I was waiting for the mast to come down for previous races, the rigging was old and dangerous, it was a big weight off my mind to know that it shouldn’t fall down, theoretically After that really, you can have a rough guess at what the weather’s going to be, you have sails, everything you need, so how much more can you really need?”
“ I’d never been to the Southern Ocean or across the Equator, but I’d done a lot of miles and they’ve all been hard miles, through the Channel or North Atlantic, in the Western Approaches day in day out with big boats and novice sailors, so the reputation of the Southern Ocean. I didn’t think it was a problem in that respect.”
“ The start was really unpleasant, I had incidents with fire, and lots of loose gear, and the generator, and filling the boat with smoke and things like that, so it was not an easy start, I was pretty miserable for the first 48 hours or however long it was, but things change quickly so nothing lasts forever.”