Together we have built a dream from scratch and have already been around the world once in preparation for the Vendee Globe. But after more than four years of endless work and fund-raising, the bottom line is that we have not found a major sponsor, and the result is that we do not have the resources to be competitive in the race. My wish list of equipment: sails, management, training, tuning, and sailing time is mostly just that, wishes.
Over the last few months the clock has loudly clicked in my ears as deadline after deadline have passed with little good news on the money front aside from your donations. The contribution of materials from our team of supplier sponsors has also helped, but I have had to use every financial trick in the book to keep things going. These include cashing in the equity from the small house that Jeanie and I own, to shuffling around an ever growing mountain of credit card debts and loans. This fearsome mass of obligations is on top of the existing large debts from the Around Alone race that have yet to be paid. I suppose I could tell you what these debts add up to, but something tells me that isn’t a good idea.
So it seems I have become a broken record whining about finances until I can hardly stand to hear myself…. like now? Often I get responses like “Oh, you have gotten this far, you will be fine.” or, “Don’t worry, it will be worth it when you win!” Har. Sailing around the world once has already taught me a lot about what it takes to have a shot at winning… and believe me we aren’t even close. Over this last winter and now summer, I have watched my dreams of being competitive fade away and have constantly readjusted my personal expectations to the reality at hand.
Even just finishing will be a monumental challenge, as we don’t have the funds to replace a lot of our equipment and sails. This is a serious event folks, so I hope you understand me when I say that I’m scared. I’m not a chicken, but I have enough experience now to know what challenges the Vendee will throw at us.
So I’m scared. Yes, the fear can get me down, but to show why life is simply a matter of perspective, l can also look at things this way:
Running only on your donations and contributed supplies, we have amazingly been able to complete nearly all of the less expensive improvements on Ocean Planet while postponing just the big ticket items. She is a strong and safe boat that has been rejuvenated and only needs a little more to have a shot at finishing the toughest race.
Volunteers, often with little or no personal resources have donated countless weeks of hard work and whose American spirit should put all of the corporations that have ignored us to shame. Sure, I long for a experienced professional team like the top dozen or so of the other Vendee entries, but the enthusiasm of all of you who hold such hope for this journey inspires me to never give up.
We have had the incredibly rewarding opportunity to have an impact on kids. From the young sailors that have been aboard Ocean Planet or send me emails, I reabsorb the excitement and energy that has brought me into this dream years ago. Since the Around Alone, I have desired to have an educational website for them to follow. To that end, tomorrow we will be announcing a new Educational Partner for Ocean Planet who will help us create this. Sure, my desire to “Win” is strong, but my desire to do make something meaningful from all this is stronger.
I hope that you think the program will be worth your continued support… even if I don’t win. Safely finishing the Vendee ought to be tough enough.
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet