by Jodie Bakewell-White
26 year old New Zealander Conrad Colman will be the sole New Zealander on the start line for the 2010 Route de Rhum solo trans-Atlantic race set to start later this month on Sunday October 31st.
Starting in Saint Malo, France and finishing in Pointe à Pitre, Guadaloupe this is the ninth edition of France’s most prestigious offshore race (launched in 1978), and the kiwi, who is based in France pursuing his passion for offshore racing, is on board a chartered Class 40 yacht for the race.
“The 2010 edition looks like it will be epic,” writes Conrad Colman on his blog. “The limits on the boats have been removed and as a result Franck Cammas will be solo onboard the same machine that he and nine others claimed the Trophée Jules Verne in 48 days.”
“In all there will be four hundred footers in the hunt as well as the IMOCA and Class 50 Trimaran classes. However, with over 40 boats, it’s the Class 40s that will fight each other for every inch along the way.”
“In this traditionally French race, I am the sole non-European and only native anglophone. In preparation I recently raced the Classe 40 World Championships where on the coastal races we scored 2nd and 4th against a fleet of top boats. I then set out for 1500 miles solo between the great capes of Finisterre, Fastnet and Lands End. These marks were quickly dispatched as the acceleration zones are familiar territory after my Mini 6.50 races and I was able to push the boat hard immediately.”
Conrad comes from strong sailing stock; his grandfather built yachts for the family in the front yard and his father sailed short-handed halfway around the world before meeting his mother and again taking to the seas for years on end.
After graduating from University Conrad wanted to pursue ocean racing instead of economics and set off for Europe with a bag of sailing gear and a dream. After working in England as a sailing instructor, sail maker and preparateur he made the leap to France after preparing an IMOCA 60 for the 2008 Vendée Globe.
His introduction to solo sailing came in 2009 when he completed the Mini 6.50 warm up races and season highlight, the Charente Maritime-Bahia Mini Transat from France to Brazil. Conrad secured a number of top results in his rookie year but was pushed down to a mid-fleet finish in the Transat due to equipment failure.
Conrad Colman Ocean Racing
Route du Rhum - La Banque Postale