Conrad Humphreys and his Open 60 Hellomoto arrived safely in Caen, Normandy early this morning on his return trip from Boston

Conrad Humphreys and his Open 60 Hellomoto arrived safely in Caen, Normandy early this morning on his return trip from Boston (Transat). The yacht now enters the next phase of the project – the second refit. Humphreys sent his last diary off the boat this weekend to reflect on the race and carry on the story of preparations for the Vendée Globe solo, non-stop round the world yacht race which starts later this year.

‘As we complete our return trip from Boston to Plymouth, it gives me a chance to reflect on the last month of activity and looking ahead at what we now have to do. Fifth place in The Transat was a great result for the whole team, sponsors and supporters. More importantly, the result reflected our key message of keeping things simple. Whilst the fleet around us fell, we stuck to our game and qualified for the Vendée Globe with an excellent result.

‘We left Boston nearly two weeks ago with two clear goals. The first was to push the boat hard downwind to give me a chance to get mentally and physically used to the relentless pressure of fast downwind sailing. The South (Southern Ocean) counts for two thirds of the Vendée Globe course and most of the time you are reaching or fast running. The average wind speed in the Southern Ocean summer is 14 knots, but at least 30 percent of the time the wind is averaging 25-30 knots. We have now had a week of continuous 25-35 knots downwind conditions and also a couple of days of 45-50 knots. Enough time to get into the groove, sleeping, eating and making some tough downwind manouevres.

‘The second goal was to prioritise our second refit. To fully optimise Hellomoto for the Vendée Globe would take many more weeks and more budget than we have at our disposal. We have set ourselves a goal of being race ready and back in the water training and testing by the end of August. This gives us six weeks. The changes we need to make reflect the time already spent on the water and are mainly performance related, although we have found a few bugs left over from our last refit that need rectifying. These are mainly reliability issues and where we had to cut a few corners to make the start of The Transat. We’ll be focusing on power supply management onboard, the sheeting configuration of the sails and replacing all the standing rigging and sheets, as well as some aspects of the swing keel hydraulic system. We’re working with North France to optimise our sail wardrobe and produce new 3DL sails for the Vendée.

‘Today (Monday) we will unstep the mast and begin the process of removing all the deck hardware for servicing. Hellomoto will then be lifted out of the water and placed in the shed at V1D2 boatyard here in Caen for her modifications. Once again the Motorola Ocean Racing shore team – Joff, Tony and Olly – will move to France for the whole of the refit period, where we will be supported remotely with our 40ft workshop and office, and support vehicles provided by Vospers, Plymouth.

‘For me, my detailed training begins. We have begun a new bio-monitoring and sleep programme in conjunction with Motorola’s Cambridge facility and Claudio Stampi at Harvard. I will be training at the University of Plymouth’s recreation facility strengthening and gaining weight and muscle mass and I will be focusing on developing and strengthening my understanding of the weather and climatology.”

In the meantime the Hellomoto team will de-camp from Plymouth to Les Sables d’Olonne in preparation for the Vendee Globe which is now just four months away.