Another voyaging accomplishment for Rich Wilson

American sailor Rich Wilson has added another voyaging accomplishment to his list by finishing the Vendee Globe race. Wilson came in at ninth place in a race where to finish at all is a major feat. In 1980 Wilson was the youngest winner of the Newport-Bermuda Race. Aboard Great American II, a 50-foot trimaran, Wilson set records for the fastest passages between Hong Kong-New York, New York-Melbourne and San Francisco-Boston. Wilson also finished second in his class in 2004 Transat Race.

From the Vendee Globe site: Rich Wilson shrugged off extreme fatigue and seemed visibly lifted by the huge and warm welcome he received today when he finished in ninth place, here is a summary of what he said:

“For me I knew about the Vendée Globe but I never considered it because it was too hard, too difficult, too long, too everything but really the motivating idea was the school programme. To try to make the global school programme. And when the internet came along and we could develop our school programme, and we had the encouragement of some newspapers, that is when we started to think we might do it.”

“Satisfaction will come. At the moment it is relief from the stress. Twenty fur hours a day, every minute of the day, every minute, every minute waiting for something to go wrong. Like when we are off Argentina or Brasil and the pilots stopped, and I was there in the dark and hand steering and wondering: ‘ now what do I do?’ and so having the stress of that finish now, is very, very good.”

On the new American President:

“I voted here in France on a paper ballot before the election and I was happy that Senator Obama was the winner, and I think that because I was approaching Cape Horn when he took office, I celebrated for five minutes and that was about it, there was just no time.”

On contact with the outside world, and his school programme:

“I was very disciplined and strict about that schedule (the education programme), but I did get a chance to call friends, a few friends in particular who helped in the Atlantic, where it was so long. They helped a lot.”

And when were the good days he recalls:

” There were good days. It was a good day when I climbed the mast and got down safely. That was a good day when I got down safely. Across the Indian Ocean I became friends with Jonny Malbon who was near to me in Artemis, it seemed like we had gale after gale after gale, and we talked through them and that was very good, and so it was very disappointing when he had to retire. I had to face the Pacific alone. It was good in the Atlantic when we were sailing with Raphael (Dinelli) who is doing an incredible project with his solar panels, and with Unai Basurko. In the south Atlantic I made a good weather decision and was able to catch up a little bit, but then everyone went faster than I did.”

“I guess also I am very conservative. I grew up sailing heavier boats which were not so fast, and the potential speed of these boats, I am not accustomed to that speed,. I think you have to sail that fast a lot, to get accustomed to it.

I think that the French sailors have done such a good job with their training. In Port La Foret you see six or seven boats go out and race and train for three days and I have never seen that anywhere else.”

“It is very good that four British sailors, Sam Davies, Brian Thompson, Dee Caffari and Steve White finished where they did but still that front pack of boats which went down the Atlantic and across the Indian Ocean, they were all French except for Mike Golding, they were all French. But it was great to see that group of English sailors as well.”

“It is very difficult to describe the abuse the boat takes. It is like a constant car crash all the time. But Thierry Dubois built and incredibly strong boat. So often I could not believe that the boat could survive. But it did .”

On what he learned about himself, perseverance and determination:
” I think after I broke my rib there was never a question of stopping. For me I have had asthma since I was one year old, and it has been very severe. For the first twenty years of my life there were not any medications. In a strange way that was useful, because when you go out to play a sport, then you can’t stop. It is hard to breathe but you can’t stop. And so there is some level of perseverance and tenacity that came from that.”

By Ocean Navigator