Sedlacek finishes his 2nd Vendée and becomes the first Austrian to sail solo, non-stop around the world

Norbert Sedlacek set a new ocean racing record for a landlocked nation when he became the first Austrian to complete a solo non stop round the world passage when he finished 11th in the Vendée Globe.

After 126 days 5 hrs 31 mins and 56 secs at sea, Sedlacek crossed the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne at 17:33 GMT yesterday (15 March). His first attempt at the race in 2004 saw him retire after suffering a mechanical failure with his canting keel system.

Norbert Sedlacek said:

“I would say it was the same tough race that I thought it would be, but I have not thought before that I would make it. I think it was really quite funny in some ways because we had some really stormy weather two times. The second time it was just for a few hours, it was an experience, but when I was deep down south in 2000 I had really heavy storms but that was for two or three days with big waves and so on, but I never ever seen it like it where it just hits you like ‘bam!’ and you are at like 90 degrees and one or two minutes it is gone, no more wind. In a few seconds it is gone.”

“The second really great experience was at Cape Horn. I was crying like a child on the boat, it was a mystic situation, I don’t know why but it was really, really, really good. I don’t know I was never worried about myself, I was only ever worried about damaging the boat. That was my one and only sorrow was about big damage to the boat, I was worried about not being able to finish the race.”

Sedlacek never made more of his troubles than necessary, dealing with them as best he could and rarely complaining. Four days after he broke his forestay he lost his genoa overboard in a storm on 16 December and spent more than four hours trying to wrestle it back on to the deck, which he accomplished but not before losing the head of the sail.

He lost the use of his wind instruments on the 23 January and has sailed without them since. Two days later his mainsail luff track was further damaged near the top of the mast, and it was nearly a month later before he could climb the mast to consolidate the damaged. While he was up the mast he discovered some cracking to the top, almost certainly the result of the strain on the topmast when the headsail went into the water.

“When you do a project like this it can end up every second when you crash in a container or when you have a bad accident, so for me it is obvious you need to have luck. If you don’t have luck then you’ll run in troubles. When you make race with an old boat you know you are going to have technical problems and you prepare yourself and the boat for such situations,” Sedlacek concluded.