Conrad Colman’s Vendee Globe story in his own words – “I gave this race my all”

Carbon fibre race yachts are noisy beasts. Sharp creaks from the sheets in the cockpit, constant thumping bass notes from the hull slamming against the oncoming waves and the staccato wash of spray on the deck all merge to create a constant cacophony as we streak between breaking swells under a fractured moonlit sky. Just another day in the Vendée Globe. Ninety-six days down, just three to go. Until… Bang. In an instant, 20 tonnes of pressure was released with a violent crack that shook the boat from stem to stern. I looked up and barely had time to watch the mast fall into the water, bringing my race to an end. It wasn’t just a carbon tube splashing down into the raging seas but my whole race, my dreams and the ten years of my life I had invested in becoming the first New Zealander to tackle ‘The Everest of the Seas’. I left the mountains of Colorado, USA, in 2007 with a freshly-minted economics degree in my pocket, all my worldly possessions in a bag on my back and the dream of adventures at sea twinkling in my eye. Having founded a small company when I was still a university student and competitive mountain biker, I realised that being a solo sailor combined adventure, the entrepreneurial spirit and story-telling all wrapped up in the life of a high performance athlete. I set out determined to make that world my own, despite not having set foot on a boat in more than ten years. On the south coast of the UK I worked at odd jobs: as a sailing instructor, sailmaker, shore crew and antifouling sander (yuck!) until I upped the stakes by moving to France where I was closer to the world I wanted. I didn’t know anyone, or the language, and I spent the first months cooking on a camping stove to save money. I was able to join the Mini 6.50 fleet in 2009, the best offshore sailing school in the world, but felt it was an uphill climb as my new friends and competitors coasted on unemployment benefits and went home to hot meals, dry beds and washing machines. I charged ahead, moving from the Mini Transat in 2009 to the famous Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race in 2010 to the Class 40 Global Ocean Race double-handed race around the world in 2011, where I won four of five legs, each with different crew. Conrad Colman in surgery drama during Global Ocean Race Then I moved on to the Barcelona World Race – nonstop round the world – in 2014. While on paper this is a rapid progression I was always a day late and a dollar short and progressed by accepting roles that no sane person should. I signed for my Rhum race three months before the race started, I signed my sponsorship deal for the Global Ocean Race ten days before the start and I accepted to sail the Barcelona World Race … Continue reading Conrad Colman’s Vendee Globe story in his own words – “I gave this race my all”