Last week I hooked up with journalist, Tom Meade of the Providence Journal, who wrote this nice piece about Ocean Planet. He tells it like it is about the need to raise more $, but I want to officially say that one way or another I’m going to be on that starting line!
Below is an article that came out yesterday in the Providence Journal:
“It’s all hands on deck so he won’t fall short. Bruce Schwab is relying on friends and family to support his single-handed adventure in next month’s Around Alone race.
BY TOM MEADE Journal Sports Writer
“Dialing for dollars and playing it by ear.”
NEWPORT — Most of the skippers in the Around Alone race are counting on large corporate sponsors to fund their race around the world, but Bruce Schwab is relying on friends and family to support his single-handed adventure.
The California sailor has raised about $1.4 million, spent about $1.6 million, and says he still is “dialing for dollars” to finance his participation in the race, which begins Sept. 12.
Schwab, 42, is the only American in the big-boat division of the race. His shore crew consists of volunteers devoting their vacation time to preparing his racing yacht, Ocean Planet, for the race.
On the return trip from his qualifying passage from the United States to the Azores, he sailed with two contributors from the Pacific Northwest and two of his most stalwart supporters — his cousin Lydia Vargas and his mother Anitia Jimenez. “She stood all of her watches except one, when she was really seasick,” Schwab said of his mother, “but she was always out there, the whole time. . . . I think she was surprised by how much movement there always is. There are times when you can’t stand up, you’re always being thrown about. I think that surprised her. On the other hand, now she has a feel for how I approach things, and what I know, and how tied in I am with this boat, so she probably feels that I’m safer now.”
Seven skippers remain registered for the race, officially starting Sept. 15 in New York City. They are scheduled to sail 50- and 60-footers. George Stricker retired from the Venturer class, crippled by insurmountable problems with his boat, said race spokeswoman Mary Ambler. In the 50-foot class, Bob Adams, Adam Lambert and Viktor Yazykov had to retire because they were unable to raise enough money to compete. In one of his frequent reports to contributors, last Saturday, Schwab said he still was $85,000 short of making the start.
The skipper has issued an open invitation for everyone to visit Ocean Planet at the Newport Shipyard, take a tour, and perhaps leave a donation behind.
The boat was designed and built for four years of racing around the world, first in the Around Alone, a stage race, and later in the 2003-2004 Vendee-Globe non-stop race around the world.
Tom Wylie designed the boat and Schooner Creek Boat Works of Portland, Ore., completed construction on April 5, 2001. British single-handed star Ellen MacArthur christened the boat.
Ocean Planet is narrower than other Open 60s, designed to be fast in a variety of conditions. The boat may be quicker getting to the Doldrums than its competition because it’s better sailing upwind. It’s also fast on the run, but probably will be slower when it’s reaching, Schwab concedes.
The keel blade is made of welded steel with a removable bulb. The upper part of the keel comes through the hull and out the deck like a daggerboard. The mast is an unstayed, round, rotating braided carbon-fiber tube fitted into titanium butt collars. There are about five feet of the mast’s base below deck, supporting about 80 feet of mast above the deck. Lying on saw horses at the shipyard last week, the mast was attracting a lot of attention.
The sailplan is a fractional rig with the jibs on free luff roller furlers, allowing for very fast sail changes and easy spinnaker jibing with no headstay, Schwab said. Runners provide headstay tension and rig stabilization.
The water-ballast system uses only two tanks.
Below, wood veneers give the boat a warmer feel than many other ocean racers with their sparse, black caverns. Schwab’s navigation station has a race-car seat that swivels, allowing him to face the windward side of the boat and use either of two computer screens.
When MacArthur was christening Ocean Planet, she teased Schwab about having installed a “sissy-ish toilet instead of using a bucket, like the rest of us,” but Schwab is a stickler about environmental responsibility and the ocean. Inside the sail locker, the toilet has a pull-down safety bar, like ones on roller-coaster cars.
Between the companionway and the cockpit is a vestibule that allows the skipper to go in and out without allowing the weather to get inside.
Behind the boat is a foundation Schwab spawned to get American youngsters excited about short-handed adventure sailing.
This week, crews were sanding the bottom of Ocean Planet, preparing it for the fluorescent-orange paint job race organizers require, and a friend was working on the rigging as Schwab worked the telephone, “dialing for dollars.”
The skipper is scraping. In Newport, he is staying at the home of marine photographer Billy Black, and he’s driving a truck lent by Victor Pinheiro, a member of the New Bedford Yacht Club whom Schwab met in the Azores.
He’s counting on a last-minute surge in contributions to get him to the starting line in New York, and is even offering a berth in the prologue race to anyone who contributes $10,000 or more. In one message to supporters, Schwab said he might have to play his guitar for tips in sailors’ bars.
As the start of the race comes closer and preparations become more frenzied, Schwab appears to be calm. “I’m playing it by ear,” he says.