Waiting and rushing in Les Sables.
As I sit at our team’s favorite new headquarters, the cozy “Cafe Cuisine” internet cafe near the harbor, my head is spinning with all that has occurred in the four years since I was here in 2000. It seems like yesterday that I wrote these stories:
The race village is taking shape for this Saturday’s official opening, and it is a madhouse of trucks unloading and of construction. The Vendée Globe is this town’s (or the state’s?) biggest event and they pull out all the stops. We were going to haul out on Wednesday to take care of our details on the keel, but the predicted weather made it doubtful that we could relaunch today (Friday). It is mandatory for all the boats to be on the pontoons tomorrow for the opening, so we will haul out on Monday instead. Here is an attempt to fit the race village that is being constructed into three pictures:
The press coverage of all this is amazing, and journalists are everywhere. I have been in the paper or on TV several times already and our press attache’, Aline Galvez, now has to schedule all of my interviews so that I can get something done. My own team has to work to get my attention as I am pulled in so many different directions!
By tomorrow morning all 22 of the boats will be here, and the ‘Zone Technique’ will be filled with all of the team’s trailers and containers. At least one team is setting up some kind of portable office building…sheesh.
Meanwhile, I am very excited about how all of the pieces of our preparation puzzle are coming together. Over the next couple of weeks, we will have FOUR new sails arriving: special Cuben Fiber mainsail by Maine Sailing Partners, along with a Doyle Vectran D4 staysail, Doyle carbon/Vectran working jib, and Doyle heavy duty fractional kite that I always have wanted! We have been secretly building a new boom (a secret no more!) of my design, with structuring engineering by Ted Van Dusen of Composite Engineering. It is being built by team member (and fabricationist extraordinaire) Will Rooks of Falmouth Boat Works, Maine, and it is really amazing that we have pulled this off so economically! Will started it in Portland, and we shipped it over in our MOT Intermodal/Shipco container. I will send pics soon, but you will have to imagine it for now…;-)
Another project I am jazzed about is our new completely custom furling swivels made by Equiplite. These brilliantly designed fittings will save a lot of weight aloft as they weigh only about a third of our old ones! I am nuts about Equiplite fittings, and I have them all over the boat. I will do a feature on Equiplite soon, but here is a pic of the new working jib swivel and a sailing shot of our floating jib lead system:
We are having some fun too. In fact, tonight I have been invited to do a guest guitar appearance at the most popular sailing bar/night hangout near the harbor. The fact that I play guitar seems to be a kick to many here! Let’s hope I play okay and can sell some of my CD’s!
That’s enough for now…it’s 5 in the morning and I have been up most of the night writing this… yawn…
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet