Ocean race sets record
THE Vendee Globe race, a nonstop, round-the-world solo sailing competition, got off to a speedy start last week, with Frenchman Vincent Riou shattering the previous record from the European coast to the Canary Islands. Riou reached the western edge of the islands in four days and three hours, nearly two days faster than the previous record for the race. The complete race usually takes more than three months to finish.
The race, which launched Nov. 7, pits 20 competitors against some of the roughest seas in the world along the southern tips of Africa, Australia and South America. Boats carry only one sailor, who is prohibited from receiving any assistance. Contestant deaths are not uncommon in this ruggedly individualistic event, nor, despite the rules, is selflessness. In 1997, France’s Raphael Dinelli capsized in the Southern Ocean and was rescued by British competitor Pete Goss, who turned back into severe weather to reach him.
The Vendee offers prizes totaling approximately $600,000 to the top six finishers. Race updates are available at www.vendeeglobe.org/uk.
-- Charles Duhigg