American sailor announces 2008 Vendée Globe challenge

Bruce Schwab, whose low-budget, high-excitement performance in the last Vendée Globe aboard his rakish Open 60 Ocean Planet, announced at the Paris Boat Show this past fall that he will once again lead an effort in the next Vendée Globe in 2008. Whether he actually sails the boat himself has to do with whether he can find someone else to sail the solo race and whether enough sponsors pony up for the expensive event.

“My goal is to build upon the success of our 2004 Ocean Planet Vendée sailing and educational platform and form a new American team for 2008,” Schwab said. “With either me or an up-and-coming American sailor at the helm, we plan to earn a podium finish.”

The next vessel, Ocean Planet II, will be built in Maine. Bids from yards were still being sought at press time in January, but Schwab has selected Long Beach, Calif., designer Alan Andrews for the design. Andrews is known for his fleet-bottomed sleds, designs that have performed nimbly in the TransPac, Newport-Bermuda, Kenwood Cup and the Chicago-Mackinac.

Last February, after more than three months alone at sea, Schwab became the first American to complete the European-dominated Vendée Globe (solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world). In doing so, he set the American round-the-world speed record at 109 days 19 hours 58 minutes 57 seconds.

“Bruce has become the premiere American solo sailor of this age,” said Dodge Morgan, Ocean Planet Foundation board member and the first American to sail solo, nonstop around the world. “It’s a thrill to see his mission evolve.”

Schwab was the winner of the 1996 solo TransPac, along with many other solo and crewed ocean races. He was the only American finisher in Class One of the 2002/2003 Around Alone (now the Velux 5 Oceans), and he has been awarded U.S. Sailing’s Alfred B. Hanson medal for at-sea rescue. Schwab is the only American actively racing in the Open 60 circuit and has logged more than 100,000 ocean miles.

By Ocean Navigator