Friday, 27 February 2009

Vendée Globe: Toe in the Water Reaches Dry Land in Eighth Place

Toe in the Water (Steve White) arrives at the finish off Les Sables d'Olonne. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

by Vendée Globe media

Steve White seemed almost taken aback by his reception today. "I thought I would just be able to sneak in and go to the pub!" was the first thing he said when he reached the dock in Port Olona. But he thanked everyone for turning out to to see him in. Here are the highlights of his press conference:

What did he think of his race?

“Fantastic..........all of it that I can remember.”

“ I think the crucial thing that we all agree on in this race is that the mast stays up. We’d actually managed to re-rig the boat for this race, every time we used the boat before, and a lot of the times I was waiting for the mast to come down for previous races, the rigging was old and dangerous, it was a big weight off my mind to know that it shouldn’t fall down, theoretically After that really, you can have a rough guess at what the weather’s going to be, you have sails, everything you need, so how much more can you really need?”

“ I’d never been to the Southern Ocean or across the Equator, but I’d done a lot of miles and they’ve all been hard miles, through the Channel or North Atlantic, in the Western Approaches day in day out with big boats and novice sailors, so the reputation of the Southern Ocean. I didn’t think it was a problem in that respect.”

“ The start was really unpleasant, I had incidents with fire, and lots of loose gear, and the generator, and filling the boat with smoke and things like that, so it was not an easy start, I was pretty miserable for the first 48 hours or however long it was, but things change quickly so nothing lasts forever.”

About being competitive on the way down the Atlantic and in the Southern Ocean:

“ That’s all credit to the boat really, it’s still a light boat by modern standards, and it’s got a short rig so you can put a kite and leave it up. It’s still a good boat... Just don’t mention going upwind.”

On his first venture into the Big South:

“ I was fairly nervous when the barometer started dropping and had some serious forecasts from Meteo France, it’s such strange place, you are isolated, but you feel isolated, you are very alone, a long way from any help. But once I’d been through the first one it was ok, but the sense of isolation is not something I actively seeked, but it’s so desolate, wild and very beautiful, it’s beyond me to describe it, it needs to be experienced.”

Steve White waves the Toe in the Water charity symbols from his boat. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

On being in touch with family:

“ I phoned Kim at least once, usually twice a day, and if I was getting really excited three times a day. We’re still running a business, and I played a small part in that while I was away, but otherwise mainly it’s family oriented, how are the kids, what’s going on, how’s school, how are the animals, all the things that happen at home, you need to hear about it, talk about it.”

On if he thinks he might have inspired anyone else to do the Vendee Globe:

“ I think it would be extremely immodest to think that I inspired anyone at all to do anything really, but if anybody has anything they want to do, whether it’s the Vendee Globe or anything at all, if you want it badly enough, you can make it happen, you just need to want it bad enough.”

On Chay Blyth’s encouragement to take every opportunity that life brings along:

“ And we have an English expression to turn up your toes, which means to die, so basically Chay stands on stage, and he has a conversation with his toes, an he says to each of them “Have you made the most of every opportunity that life has given you?”

And if I ever arrive in that position, I want the answer to be yes I have done the best I can at every chance I’ve been given.”

On loving France and Les Sables d’Olonne:

“ Sailing is a way of life here, and it doesn’t seem to be like that in England and that’s a shame, and it has been overlooked in the media which is a shame, it’s not like that over here, I’m not seeking to be famous or anything like that, but to have support like this, and support with the boat, it’s something we don’t get in England, which is a shame.”

On the camaraderie and mutual support among the Brit-Pack (of British skippers on the course:

“ We’ve had jokes from Dee, we’ve had a bit of technical support and commiseration over mechanics with Brian, Sam’s just full of joy during the race, she makes it very enjoyable.”

And about Albatross:

“ Yes, there’ something very special about albatrosses, I know I wrote about them a lot, it epitomizes the south. You are there in three layers of clothing, clinging on to your boat and they are just soaring along gracefully.”

Ready for a haircut?

“ I’ve done it already, but I messed it up, I had one go but it didn’t work (haircut).

And what had he been shaving with since the Ecover hand soap ran out and Kim forbid him to use cooking oil?

“ I stoppod using the cooking oil because I got too much stick from Kim and I used some disgusting hand soap which has been bad for my skin.”

And what is he looking forward to now?

“ I think just a bit of time to catch up with people who’ve come to see me, a lot of people here, people I need to talk to, I want to eat something and not have to wash up after it

I washed my porridge plate for over one hundred days and I’m sick of doing it.”

“ If we can get it to go in time we’ll do the Calais Round Britain, and all the classic French races like Transat Jacques Vabre, the Route du Rhum, I’d like to participate in the races I’ve watched from home like a lemon for years. I’d like to do the Velux 5 Oceans.”

On the name of the boat:

“ Toe in the water is a charity that’s set up to re-inspire injured servicemen through sailing We’ve got some people here who are behind the charity and two of the guys who have benefited from it are here with it, but sailing is a really good way of getting people back into the swing of it. It has been a great honour for me to go out and represent the charity in a very small way, if you want to see really brave people, then you need to go and meet some of these guys, and hear their stories.”

On being ready for 2012, fluent in French:

“ I’ve come a long way, I’ve been listening to my Michel Thomas religiously although not in the last few days.”

Vendée Globe

No comments: