New Zealander Conrad Colman (who is also a longtime resident of the United States) has finished 16th in the Vendée Globe, after sailing the better part of the last month under jury rig: a truly epic effort. Despite his setbacks, Colman’s total elapsed time was 110 days 1 hour 58 minutes, meaning he still sailed 27,929 miles at an average speed of 10.57 knots.
After being dismasted in a storm late on the evening of Friday, February 10th, when he was in 10th place and some 250 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal, Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig that allowed him to sail the final 740 miles to the finish. At the time he was only three and half days out and already low on supplies. As a result, he was forced to last out his final days on the survival rations inside his life raft. On Wednesday he confirmed by radio that he had only two biscuits left.
As part of his heroic effort, Colman, who is a trained sailmaker and rigger, set one of the most efficient jury rigs seen in the history of ocean racing, working diligently and smartly to improve the sheeting angles and hence efficiency of the rig, which was constructed from his boom, part of his mainsail and his storm jib. Only Philippe Poupon and Yves Parlier have previously completed the Vendée Globe under jury rig (although a number of others, like Mike Golding and Loïck Peyron, have had to set up jury rigs to bring their boats back to shore).
Although his was one of the lowest-budget efforts of the entire race, Colman managed to also achieve his goal of becoming the first-ever skipper to complete the Vendée Globe using no fossil fuels, only renewable energies. To this end, his electrical power was all created using an innovative electric motor in conjunction with solar panels and a hydro generator
“The objective is to have it as a reflection of my philosophies,” Colman said. “Growing up in New Zealand I was aware of the hole in the Ozone layer there. I converted to become a vegetarian not especially because I care about cute lambs, but because I was more concerned about the global impact of the chain of food production and consumption. And so the project is a reflection of my ideals.”
Can a modern-day sailor be any more brave, or more cool? For additional details on Colman’s epic voyage, visit http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en.