Press Release – September 24, 1999
Bruce Schwab Leads U.S. Team Entry in Vendee Globe Around-the World Solo Sail Race
OAKLAND, CA – The Made in America Foundation, led by skipper Bruce Schwab, has announced its entry in the Vendee Globe Challenge Around the World Race, a spectacular quadrennial solo event that will set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne, France in November 2000.
“It’s appropriate that the Vendee happens in Olympic years, because this race is truly the Olympic marathon of singlehanded sailing,” said Schwab, who will sail the Open 60 yacht “Made in America,” designed by Tom Wylie and built by Steve Rander of Schooner Creek Boatworks of Portland, Oregon.
This race deserves its status as the most difficult global single-handed race in sailing. Skippers will face at least three months of isolation and constant wakefulness in dangerous weather on high seas, including passages around the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) and around Cape Horn (South America). Surprisingly, the Vendee has never before had an official American finisher.
“Imagine the Olympics without the U.S.A.,” said Schwab. “The objective for our team is to make this entry a testament to American sailing and engineering.”
The Made in America Foundation team is made up of sailing industry professionals. Schwab, who grew up living on a sailboat in Puget Sound, is a professional rigger. He has been head of the Rigging Department at Svendsens Boat Works in Alameda for the last 17 years. Team designer Tom Wylie created the winning boat for the Mini-Transatlantic race (like the Vendee dominated by European racers) in 1979 for American Norton Smith, the only non-French boat to win that event in the last 11 years. Wylie has since collaborated with Portland boatbuilder Steve Rander on the creation of several successful sailboats, including “Rage”, an ultra-light superfast cruiser that twice broke the San Francisco-to-Hawaii Pacific Cup speed record.
“What we are making here is an extremely fast, yet practical boat,” says designer Wylie. “This is not a wild, rule-twisted design. The Made in America will feature an easily driven low-drag hull, equally ideal for shorthanded racing or ocean cruising for the average sailor.”
The mast and rigging concept is a result of combining proven features used on many Wylie boats, with shorthanded rigging developed over the years by Schwab’s experience.
Schwab brings to the Vendee challenge a reputation as one of the most athletic solo sailors on the Pacific. He has accumulated a string of victories in Shorthanded Ocean racing, including the title as overall winner of the 1996 San Francisco-to-Hawaii Singlehanded Transpac. This year, Bruce was awarded the Arthur B. Hansen Award from the United States Sailing Association for his rescue of fellow sailor Gary Helm’s. Mr. Helm’s had capsized his boat near the Farallone Islands in the 1998 Doublehanded Farallones Race, a rough event in the ocean off the California coast.
Private donors have contributed the initial funding for the Made in America team, underwriting design and initial building expenses. Initial grassroots support has been encouraging in the San Francisco Bay Area. The syndicate is currently talking with potential corporate sponsors to assure the boat’s scheduled completion in April 2000. Marine industry companies already involved in the project include MAS epoxies as resin supplier, along with Forespar Mfg. who will supply carbon fiber poles. UK Sails (Ulmer/Kolius) is the official sail supplier. Samson Cordage will supply the latest in high tech ropes.
Once the Made in America is built and fully rigged, Schwab will undertake a Trans-Atlantic solo run as a qualifying passage for the Vendee Challenge, as well as racing the “Europe 1-Star” single-handed Trans-Atlantic race. This race will provide the first chance to match up with European competitors also gunning for the Vendee Globe Challenge.
For more information on contributions or sponsorship, contact:
Bruce Schwab/Made in America Foundation
3135 64th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94605
Press Release – October 13, 1999
Bruce Schwab Flies to Le Havre, France.
On Oct. 13, I headed for France to see the “Open 60” class boats gathered in Le Havre for the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre. This turned out to be one of the most spectacular sailing events I’ve had the chance to see. I didn’t even know (like most Americans) that it was happening until I heard from Brad Van Liew (the only American finisher in the last Around Alone), that if I went to France in November as I originally planned, all of the boats would be gone.
As reported in an earlier update:
As we are closing in on the resolution of some deck layout and interior issues, it has been decided that I’d better see the very latest Open 60’s before we ink things in. So there I was, planning to wander over to France in mid November, when Brad Van Liew calls and tells me that all of the top boats are gathering in Le Havre for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre on… OCTOBER 16th! Yikes!! Basically he said: “Dude, get your butt over there, or you won’t have any boats to look at!”
THANK YOU BRAD!
So now I’m leaving for gay Pareé on the 13th (next Wednesday) arriving the morning of the 14th and heading for Le Havre to play boat tourist/spy. Anyone have a bow tie camera I can borrow? Anyway, I should be even more full of opinions than usual when I return on the 18th.
Brad was going to be there too, and said that I should do most of my photo recon work on thursday the 14th, and he could possibly get me onto a few of the boats on Friday.
So as soon as I hit the ground I zipped to Le Havre as fast as I could via cab (expensive!) and train (eat your heart out, BART system). When I walked into the train lobby and out into the street in Le Havre, I got a clue of the town’s support for the Jacques Vabre Race: there were flashy posters and billboards advertising the event everywhere! The boats were easy to find, and the crowds already forming on the walkways above the docks.
What a scene! 10 Open 60 monohulls and 8 Formula 60 trimarans showing off the highest tech hulls and rigging I have ever seen. The Euro programs are very well funded and it shows. Each side of the long harbor was lined with a 1/4 mile of hospitality booths by the boat sponsors, along with temporary bars, restaurants, clothing, and sailing knick-knack shops. A great example was the large booth by Catherine Chabaud’s sponsor Whirlpool Europe. Staffed by attractive women wearing natty yellow suits (matching the boat, of course), with a detailed scale model of the boat, an exciting promo video running constantly, and several of whirlpool’s latest euro version washing machines. Thousands of people, and hundreds of schoolkids ogled the boats
I spotted Brad, said hi, and shot several rolls of excellent spy photos with my tele lens. Brad introduced me to his friend Mike Garside, with whom he had a neck & neck battle with for 2nd place in the last Around Alone. Until Brad broke his mast, that is. I managed to find a classic cheap French room (the kind with the kamode down the hall) and sacked out.
On friday Brad got me past the security guards onto the docks, and aboard “Gartmore Investment” (Josh Hall) and “Fila” (on loan from Giovanni Soldini to couple of his ace crew for this race). I whipped out my pocket throw-away flash cameras and shot away.
My trip had already been worth it, but the best was yet to come. Desperate to get a ride out to watch the monohull start on saturday, I found the press center on the second floor of the 3 story “Race office/convention center” and made my pitch to the queen of press boat access (“Ah…ve ah verry verry full”). When my mention of my own Vendee program got an unconvinced look, I mentioned that I was also writing an article for the prestigious Northern California magazine “Latitude 38”. This worked like I had hypnotized them and soon I was armed with a pass onto a press boat with Mike Garside, a French TV crew, and 2 reporters for “Yachting World”. Thanks, Latitude!
On the out, I took advantage of the opportunity to pepper Mike with questions about his boat “Magellan Alpha” which he took in stride, a real gent.
Words cannot do justice to pandemonium surrounding an Open 60 start in Europe, but here goes: As if racing monster 60 foot sloops doublehanded to Columbia wasn’t enough, the start was downwind to a leeward mark and then a beat back up to weather, before they could depart for good. Each of the high-end boats had a full crew on to help get the main up, etc., before the extras hopped into their respective team inflatables to watch their bosses have at it themselves. The spectator fleet, which was in the hundreds, were kept to one side of course. We on the press boats however, zipped around at will within talking distance of the racers. Mike gave his best to fellow Brits Mike Golding(Team Group 4) and Josh Hall, and soon they were all off, in a light air start. A squadron of eight(!) helicopters kept hovering annoyingly close as the crews deployed giant gennikers or asymmetrical spinnakers. The Brits got lousy starts but on the beat Josh Hall(Gartmore Investment) found some better breeze and moved into second. Suddenly, our press boat headed back into the Harbor, apparently get the TV crew to the editing room, and then we went back out to allow Mike to say a final good-bye to Josh, who danced a happy jig on his foredeck. Even the light air, the 60’s soon disappeared over the horizon. I gave a brief interview to the “Yachting World” writer, and then it was back for beers at one of the hospitality bars in the harbor.
We met Brad at the bar, and soon were joined by Phil Lee (project manager extraordinare) of “Cray Valley”, then Giovanni Soldini and the whole team from “Fila”, and finally Isabelle Autissier herself. Many beers and cigarettes (hack, hack,) disappeared. I got up the guts to introduce myself to Isabelle, who was very nice. Phil (an Aussie) and Brad told me not to blab too much about boats, since the gang was there mostly to party. When everyone got up, Brad motioned for me to come along and the whole entourage piled into Fila vans and we went off to dinner at a local pizzeria. By the time dinner was over, the tables were covered with empty wine bottles. It was a blast, but at 1 a.m. I was fading fast. Everyone was getting ready to head for the next venue and I asked Brad how long this would go on. He laughed and said: “Dude, so far for them this is about the same as you or I having one beer!” I could only say: “I AM NOT WORTHY,” which cracked him up. I realized that while I think I can sail against this gang, I was out of my league when it comes to drinking! I bailed and walked back to the hotel. As I left, Brad said that if I liked the start that day, I shouldn’t miss the multihull start on sunday.
No kidding. The turnout was even wilder for the sunday start. I shot some great pics before I ran out of film. You’d have to see it, to believe what it’s like watching the tri’s fly 2 hulls at 25+ knots from 30ft to leeward in a press boat driven by a mad Frenchman. I’ll stick to monohulls for now, thank you. As of today (tues) one of them has already flipped and is out of the race.
In my hotel, many of the deck layout questions I had wanted to solve began to gel in my head, and I stayed up most of the night making notes for our boat. As impressive as the Euro Open 60’s are, I am more confident than ever that we can make a better boat for the Vendee. I also know that given the enormous, and still growing popularity of these races, we will provide a terrific return for our sponsor’s investment. Just being an American entry will be a huge hit. Isabelle told me that the Vendee is at least 10 times larger than the Jacques Vabre, with something like a 100 thousand people a day for weeks at the start & finish. With the worldwide TV and Internet coverage for the lead-up events, the Vendee itself, and the resulting follow-ups, we will be able to generate constant exposure for more than a year. It’s time for a competitive American entry in the Vendee, I really want to beat these guys.
And I think we can do it.
Press Release – November 3, 1999
Bruce explains to his Mom exactly what race he’s doing (this time).
Mom, you asked me to clarify exactly which around the world race I am doing. It can be confusing since there a number of them, so here goes:
The race I am entered in is the “Vendee Globe Challenge” which is non-stop, around the world, singlehanded. It is raced every 4 years. The last race, won in 1996/1997 by Frenchman Christophe Auguin, is well documented in Derek Lundy’s scary book “The Godforsaken Sea.” Also read “Close to the Wind” by Pete Goss, the English entry who rescued Frenchman Raphael Dinelli after his boat sank.
This race is considered the top of the solo sailing pyramid, and is unbelievably popular in Europe. Something like 100,000 people a day (for weeks on end) visitthe start & finish in Les Sables De Olonne, France. The media crescendo of the start is legendary with a reported peak of over 300,000 tourists in town to watch. Make your reservations early, Wocket Fans!
The “Around Alone” is likewise raced every 4 years, 2 years apart from the Vendee. This race is also singlehanded, but is raced in 4 legs, with a lot of fanfare at each stopover. The last race finished this spring after a dramatic event. The winner of class 1 (the “Open60’s”) was the colorful Italian Giovanni Soldini, who rescued the legendary Isabelle Autissier after she capsized while leading the race, in thefar reaches of the southern ocean. I met both of these famous sailors recently in France, as you may recall from my earlier report. I actually talked to J.P. Moulingne, the winner of class 2, today on the phone. Brad Van Liew was the only American finisher in the race, 3rd in class 2. Brad has become quite a hero. In France, I saw school kids call him by name for his autograph. Brad has also been very helpful to us with his advice and connections, as he is now part of the around the world”club”.
The “Volvo” (formerly the Whitbread) around the world race, is for crewed boats. This is now be raced in a class of boats called the”Volvo 60’s”. The next version of the race will start in the fall of 2001, raced in 9 legs. Several teams are already testing boats and crews. My friend Mark Rudiger was the navigator aboard “EF Language” the winnerof the last Whitbread. He just announced his campaign for the next Volvo, with a proposed budget of something like 14-15 million. The media coverage of this event is colossal, with specials on ESPN, etc. The website had something like 6 million hits on the day the fleet finished leg 2 in New Zealand.
The “Jules Verne Trophy” is the race that was started when prize money was offered for the first crewed boat to sail around the world, non-stop, in under 80 days. The first boat to pull this off was “Commodore Explorer” which just barely made it in 79 days. Then “ENZA” from New Zealand, skippered by one of the most famous sailors in the world, Sir Peter Blake, set the record with a run of 75 (74?) days. Blake then went on to win the Americas Cup in San Diego to take cup to New Zealand. (The Americas Cup is now underway there now) This guy’s resume is unbelievable. The record has since been broken again by a French team whose skipper I forget at the moment, which is strange because he is another superstar. The attempts and records in thisevent have been in giant catamarans or trimarans in the 70-90 foot range. This string of records has led to:
“THE RACE” which will start on january 1st, 2001. This race is crewed, non-stop, with no limit on boat size. A couple of mega-boats are being built for this crazy deal. The first on the water is “Playstation” owned by billionare adventurer Steve Fossett, also known as “The manwho fell to Earth, twice” for his ballooning exploits. Playstation has seta new 24hr sailing speed record of 580 miles(!). The crew includes my friends Stan Honey (navigator) and Peter Hogg (a contributor to “Madein America”, coincidentally).
The British Hero, Pete Goss (who rescued Frenchman Rafael Dinelli in the 1996/1997 Vendee) is building another giant cat for this event.
There are a couple of other around the world races, but these are the main events. Any questions? Is everyone ready for a quiz?
Made in America team skipper(Team Wylie Wocket!)
PS: Don’t miss our fundraiser party bash, on Sunday, December 12th at the Encinal YC in Alameda, California, 5-9pm! There will lots of fun stuff going on, with raffles, etc. We also introduce the hot new “Wocket Wear” and classy “Made in America” clothing!
Press Release – November 21, 1999
Bruce travels to Seattle/Portland and sees the boat for the first time.
Before I give you the latest on our Vendee Globe effort, I need to remind everyone about our fun-fundraiser party on Dec 12th at the Encinal YC in Alameda! We have a bunch of very cool stuff to raffle off, including: a custom carbon fiber spinnaker pole from Forespar(!), a free haul-out at Svendsens, a dingy building kit from MAS epoxies, free seminars from Complete Cruising Solutions, and lots more. Mystery musical guest! See you there! (RSVP if you can, not required)
Just back from Seattle & Portland. Went to Seattle to check out the very impressive “Fish Expo.” As in everything you ever thought of having to do with the fishing industry, from giant engines to “complete bone removal technology” (my favorite exhibitor name).
Don Melcher, our team radio guru, wanted me to meet him there and see what we could drum up for sponsorship help on our radios and communication airtime. All of the communication players were there since the fishing industry is obviously a major market for them. As it turns out, Brad Van Liew was also there working the Comsat booth and provided some additional contacts and advice. Brad seems to magically appear wherever I travel these days (see the update on my trip to France on our website, rigworld.com) and is sort of a guardian angel!
The best news is that we have signed on Nobeltec as our supplier of routing and charting software. They have developed a new way of storing chart data that allows them to fit all of the world on one CD! I’ll have it before you, eat your heart out, but check at Complete Cruising Solutions next spring when it’s available. I still have a lot of work to do to earn a radio hardware or airtime sponsor. Will be following up leads this week.
While in town, I stayed at my mom’s in west Seattle. Friday night she threw a party and invited a bunch of her friends to meet her crazy son “the one racing around the world.” Aside from me feeling a little bit like a circus oddity, they all were quite enthusiastic and may turn up some leads for contributions. I really need some good news in that department, asap.
Saturday my mom and by brother Steve drove me down to Portland so that we could check out the “Made in America” (aka the “Wylie Wocket”!). Wow! Steve Rander and crew are doing an amazing job. Seeing the real thing is different than looking at the drawings. Steve’s execution of Tom’s lines is absolute magic to my eyes. We have all really connected in our collective vision of the boat we are creating. I have sailed a lot of boats, but this one will really blow everyone away. Our concepts make so much sense it is surprising no one else has put them together like we are. Unlike the dollars spent in America’s cup campaigns, what we develop for singlehanded racing is directly applicable to the average cruiser, who needs a fast, safe and easily handled boat. What we are doing needs to be done.
To all of you that have sent or are sending in contributions, I can’t thank you enough! Without your help we will screech to a halt. However, what we have received is a drop in the bucket compared to what will be spent. About $2,000 a week is what has been coming in, and to build the boat we need more like 30,000 a week through February. Pretty scary. Meanwhile we are relentlessly pursuing corporate sponsorship. This is an opportunity for them to get the best bang for their buck in international exposure, if we can get through to them. All leads or contacts appreciated, and please keep the contributions coming! They are tax-deductible, through the Encinal Sailing Foundation. There is a contribution form on the website you can print out (here)if you know anyone who would be interested in supporting what we are doing.
We can win one of the most dangerous races in the world with a safe, fast, and dependable all-American boat, if we keep getting the great support.
Bruce (keeping your Wocket dollars hard at work) Schwab
Update – December 20, 1999
Hard at it…
As we head into the Xmas/New Year, a lot of things are swirling around. Who knows where it will land. Y2K? Whither the Markets? How much will Mr. Gates have to fork over to the feds?
Here at the trusty(?) office computer at “Made in America” I am working hard to drum up the needed support to build and campaign the “Wylie’s Wocket”. We are already well along on the construction of what will one of the greatest boats ever. I must admit things will slow down a bit over the holidays as Steve Rander (our builder at Schooner Creek Boat Works) has gone almost as far as he can on what I’ve provided. More $ are on the way soon, but never fast enough!
I am working all day and late every night on our program, I figure the lack of sleep will be good practice for more singlehanded ocean racing! There are many leads to follow and the proposal packets are going out as fast as I can put them together. I stay in constant contact with our designer Tom Wylie, builder Steve Rander, rudder guru Larry Tuttle (of Waterat), our keel shape hydrodynamics expert Paul Bogataj, and our spar builder Ted Van Dusen (Composite Engineering). They are all ready to hit the ground running hard.
I’ve had great help and input from our Official Supplier Sponsors: MAS Epoxies, Forespar Mfg., Samson Cordage, Doyle Sailmakers, Nobeltec Inc., and Complete Cruising Concepts.
Thanks to thank Kathryn Steele of 3M for her help with working materials! Stay tuned for a major familiar name in the marine world coming aboard soon, can’t tell you yet. I want to thank all of these great companies for their support in making our program possible.
Our Official Suppliers are bringing the dream closer to reality, reducing the overall cost of our program by providing their valuable products to us. But all of the cash for building our boat and keeping this little overworked computer going has come from individual contributors so far. I cannot thank them enough, whether their contribution has been $10 or $10,000+. Without them we never would have got off the ground. If you can join them, please do so soon! There is a donation form on our web site, see below.
I know this is a really bad time of year to ask people for money, with the holidays and the endless stream of fundraising letters coming in the mail. But I don’t have any choice but to ask you for help. Your $ will at least keep us going while I irritate one corporate marketing department after another. I’m getting better at making flashy cover letters and packets. They are being fairly well received, but I may overpower this poor machine soon.
Please keep the corporate contacts coming. Also talk to possible individuals who might be interested. Get me an email, phone, or a mailing address and I’ll get something out to them right away. Sometimes I stay up most of the night working on this stuff, but I’m on a mission from……. well, WYLIE’S WOCKET. I’ve got Wocket Weligion.
Here are the web sites of some of the other Vendee entrants. By the way, it’s a good thing I paid the (non-refundable) entry fee, there’s a waiting list already.
Mike Golding (England): http://www.teamgroup4.com/
Ellen MacArthur (England): http://www.kingfisherchallenges.com/uk/index.shtml
Catherine Chabaud (France): http://www.catherine-chabaud.com/homefb.html
(In French, but cool.)
Fellow American Bob Gay: http://www.a27class.org/globe50.htm
Here’s Brad Van Liew’s Mission America site, his program is gunning for the next around alone in 2002/2003: http://www.oceanracing.org/ Brad has been really helpful with his experience and advice. I owe him big.
Don’t forget to check out our site! (Oh, I guess you didn’t..) I want to thank Mark Wiltz for his priceless volunteer web work.
Any comments about our site greatly appreciated, we’ll get on it right away. Updated logos and clothing (really, really nice stuff) coming soon, keep checking!
Made in America
“Wylie’s Wocket” Team skipper and head fundraiser
Fundraiser Update – December 14, 1999
Thanks Everyone! I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who made it to our fundraiser party on Sunday. I hope you had a great time, I sure did! Thanks for joining team “Wylie Wocket.” We will have team clothing for sale on our website in a few days, with updated logos (even cooler).
The party raised about $6,000 for our Globe Challenge effort, a big help. But we still have a long way to go! Probably the best result of the party is getting you folks to feel involved and thinking of individual and corporate contacts for us. I’ve already had a couple calls with great ideas, keep em coming.
Those of you who came and learned what our boat is about know how serious we are about winning the Vendee Globe Challenge. If you met or heard our designer Tom Wylie speak, you know that the Europeans have good reason to be concerned! Let your friends know about us, and see if they can pitch in. Everyone will be able to follow the race knowing that they helped make it possibe.
We will be planning another party soon. How many of you would be interested in a full concert by our musical guest star? We may auction off the crew spot to sail with me in the Doublehanded Farallones Race next spring, want to help set a record? If you have other ideas let me know.
If you missed the party, don’t feel bad, just print out the contribution form on our website and send in your tax-deductible donation (did I already say that?)
Bruce (would rather be pickin & grinnin than typin & sittin) Schwab
PS: Thanks to our Party Sponsors:
The Encinal Yacht Club
Complete Cruising Solutions
Linguini’s in Alameda
All these folks are great! Buy their stuff.