Thursday, 14 October 2010
Christophe Bullens wins race against time to compete in the VELUX 5 OCEANS (after his original boat was dismasted and badly holed this week) when he revealed that he had secured a new yacht, just five days before the start of the 30,000-mile solo round the world race. Christophe has bought the Eco 60 Artech from French yachtsman Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty. Image copyright onEdition.
by Sarah Hames
The VELUX 5 OCEANS has not even started yet and already Belgian ocean racer Christophe has been on an incredible voyage. After a nail-biting ten days, Christophe Bullens has confirmed he expects to be on the start line of the VELUX 5 OCEANS after securing a new boat for the race. Just five days before the start of the 30,000-mile solo round the world race, Christophe has bought the Eco 60 Artech from French yachtsman Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty.
The 49-year-old Belgian completed a 2,500-mile qualification passage in his original Eco 60 Five Oceans of Smiles in September. But his campaign was thrown into jeopardy early last week when his original yacht Five Oceans of Smiles was cruelly dismasted 15 miles off the coast of France en route to La Rochelle, home of the VELUX 5 OCEANS.
Five Oceans of Smiles was towed into Cherbourg with its mast broken into three pieces, a hole in the starboard side of the hull and destroyed sails. Since then, Christophe and his small shore team have been working round the clock to find another Eco 60 to sail in the VELUX 5 OCEANS.
But with just days to go until the race start, Christophe and his team have secured funding to buy Artech, confirming his place on the VELUX 5 OCEANS start line. The yacht will now be renamed and rebranded Five Oceans of Smiles in support of the Smiles charity which supports children who are HIV positive. Based at the Saint-Pieter hospital in Brussels, Smiles seeks to give HIV positive children the possibility to be born, grow up and live a normal childhood.
“It has been a real rollercoaster since the dismasting,” Christophe said. “We never stopped believing that we could be in this race and we fought to be on the start line until the end. Funding came through at the last minute and we are going to be on the start line of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. There was no way we were going to abandon the children – we are doing this race for them.”
VELUX 5 OCEANS Skipper Christophe Bullens and Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski takes part in a cooking challenge with help from local Restaurateur and Michelin star chef Gregory Coutancaeu and the head chef at one of his local restaurants L'Entracte, Gregory Michel. Image copyright onEdition.
VELUX 5 OCEANS race director David Adams added: “Christophe’s tenacity in the face of adversity is an illustration of what makes solo sailors so special. Many people would have thrown in the towel following the dismasting last week, but not Christophe. He has worked tirelessly to find a solution to making the start line and he has a fantastic Eco 60 to take on The Ultimate Solo Challenge.”
Artech was built for the 2002 Route du Rhum by Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty and skippered by Elie Canivenc as Leasecom. Three years later Dejeanty raced her with co-skipper Alexandre Toulorge in the Transat Jacques Vabre under the name Maisonneuve-Région Basse Normandie. Currently lying in Lorient, she is race ready and will be delivered to La Rochelle by the weekend.
VELUX 5 OCEANS Skippers Christophe Bullens and Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski celebrate their win in a cooking challenge with help from local Restaurateur and Michelin star chef Gregory Coutancaeu and the head chef at one of his local restaurants L'Entracte, Gregory Michel. Image copyright onEdition.
Although he qualified previously on the original Five Oceans of Smiles, Christophe needs to satisfy the VELUX 5 OCEANS race committee that his new boat is up to the challenge of sailing round the world. Christophe will start with the rest of the fleet at 4pm on Sunday and sail a qualification passage to complete his final preparations.
The first ocean sprint of the VELUX 5 OCEANS is to Cape Town, South Africa. The race then stops in Wellington, Salvador and Charleston before returning to La Rochelle in June 2011.
Velux 5 Oceans