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