Hello from Spirit of Canada
Well, where do I start. The last six months has been the most difficult period in the entire 13 years of the Spirit of Canada campaign. I have delayed this status report numerous times in order to be able to report something positive as we have worked our way through a very difficult period.
Back in January and after seven difficult weeks in Hobart, Australia without finding the budget to ship Spirit of Canada back home, I left Hobart on the Open 60 with the idea of heading back to France on my own hoping that the repairs to the mast and electronics were complete. It very quickly became apparent that we had not completely gotten the bugs out of the autopilots. Facing a cold and hard slog around the Horn late in the season and without proper autopilots, I made the difficult decision to head for New Zealand where I knew qualified people were waiting to help.
Mentally and physically, I was exhausted from the retirement from the Vendee Globe and the setbacks of the repairs. With a crushing 1.2 million dollar loan outstanding on the Open 60 and a requirement to repay it within 6 months after the end of the Vendee Globe; I was finding it difficult to make positive decisions required to move forward with the campaign. The hunt for new sponsors has proved fruitless in the global recession that is now upon us. It was now late in the season and Cape Horn was getting less and less plausible as a route and the Panama Canal seemed to be the most reasonable route now backs to the Northern Hemisphere.
I left the boat in Auckland and returned to Canada as the financial realities started to sink in and it became obvious that we did not have the financial wherewithal to maintain the Open 60. Discussions commenced with the lender and for the past three months we have been negotiating with them to turn the boat over for the outstanding amount of the loan. This arrangement is bitter sweet to say the least but a move in the right direction. As of the end of June, the Open 60 belongs to a fellow Canadian. I am not certain at this time what the plans are for the Open 60 or if I will be involved with it but I very proud that the boat will continue to be of Canadian registry.
As you can imagine, the Vendee Globe did not finish the way we expected. Only 11 of the original 30 competitors managed to complete the course. I know a lot of people are as disappointed as we are with the results. I am hugely disappointed and I feel it is unfinished business. I am constantly overwhelmed with the positive emails and the support that we have received from Canadians across the country. When I'm feeling a bit discouraged, I go back and read the emails, as they are full of encouragement and kind words. I want to thank everyone for those emails; without them, I feel that things would be a lot more difficult. Again, thank you for all your support and I look forward to thanking you all in person when the opportunity presents itself in the future.
At this point, I am in the Maritimes with the family and starting to think about future sailing projects. I have started to write a book about the past two around the world races (the Around Alone 2002 and the Vendee Globe 2008) to honor our sponsors and the individuals that have supported Spirit of Canada over the past 13 years. We are also planning to do a number of appearances and speaking engagements in the upcoming months.
The team and I have learned so much about professional sailing campaigns over the past 13 years that we are committed to continue with Spirit of Canada. We are beginning to work towards an exciting new campaign and I will be announcing the details of the next Spirit of Canada project in the next few months.
I hope that you are enjoying the summer.