Team Pindar skipper Brian Thompson to undertake a 4,500 mile qualifier for Vendée Globe 4/6/08

Following the recent installation of the new mast, Team Pindar’s Open 60 skipper, Brian Thompson took to the water again yesterday, to undertake a 4,500 mile qualifier for the Vendée Globe, which begins in November.

The transatlantic solo journey, which will take him from Falmouth much of the way to Newfoundland, requires Brian to pass the longitude of W50° and return crossing the latitude of Lands End at N52°, for at least 12 hours.

Since Brian joined Team Pindar in August 2007, the Open 60 campaign has been hampered by two dismastings and subsequent delays to the refit, forcing the team to miss the start of the TJV in November 2007 and also withdraw from the the Artemis Transat last month. This qualifier offers the chance for Brian to fulfil his dream of becoming the first British sailor to win the most coveted prize in solo sailing – the Vendée Globe.

Speaking from Falmouth before he set out, Brian commented: “So far we have been very confident of the new mast. It’s much larger in section to the last one and it has a lot of inherent stability. In the same conditions it seems to be much stiffer. Of course it’s very early days but I feel very excited that this boat has the pace to rival any of the Open 60 fleet. Particularly upwind, she’s hugely powerful so it’s a matter of harnessing that energy efficiently. If we can be sailing at 85% of potential and matching the same speed as others at 100%, then that has to be a good thing, especially in a race like the Vendée Globe. This qualifier is a great opportunity to learn as much as I can about the boat ahead of our final preparations over the summer.”

Brian hopes to complete the voyage in less than three weeks, before returning to Gosport to make further enhancements to the boat. The Vendée Globe begins on 9 November.

On 3 June, onboard Pindar, Brian wrote:

“I am just crossing over the 2000 metre depth contour as I write this, 130 miles south-west of Brest and heading for the blue Atlantic Ocean.

“The voyage that has been set for me by the Vendee Race Commission, is to sail non-stop out to 50 degrees West, about 2200 miles from my start point in Plymouth and then to return whilst also spending at least 12 hours north of 52 North. It is approximately one fifth of the round the world distance and I am really looking forward to this trip. Without the obligation to do this course I am sure I would not be doing so much solo sailing this summer. I am going to get to learn the boat on all points of sail, work on single-handed manoeuvres and be spending 3 weeks at sea after a winter in the boatyard, so it’s going to be so useful.

“This voyage started in Gosport on Sunday morning together with Nick Black and Alasdair Green. The three of us sailed to Plymouth to test out the systems and it was a great opportunity to finish off some of those tasks that end up on the end of the job list, and to pack the boat thoroughly and make sure we had not missed anything. After 24 hours at sea, Nick and Alasdair jumped into a water taxi in Plymouth Sound and I was, just like that, off on my own – it was a perfect way to start.

“Now the swells are starting to get longer, the Channel chop is disappearing and its time to stretch Pindar’s legs on the ocean. The shipping traffic is fading, so it’s also past due to set the alarm for that indulgent first 20-minute catnap.

“All is well from Pindar, reaching with 2 reefs and the J2, and heading in the direction of the Azores. Brian”