Two sailors will no longer be racing in the VELUX 5 OCEANS. French skipper Charles Hedrich and British ocean racer Simon Chalk have not fulfilled their obligations to the VELUX 5 OCEANS race management and as a result will not make the start line of the 30,000-mile singlehanded round the world race.
Both sailors did not respect a number of rules laid down by the race management regarding the process of qualifying for the race, known as The Ultimate Solo Challenge. The race management team has therefore been forced to refuse their entries to the race, which starts in La Rochelle, France, on October 17.
Both skippers failed to arrive in La Rochelle by September 26, the cut-off date laid out in the race rules. Ocean rower Chalk, 37, had set out on a qualification passage from Plymouth, UK, earlier this month but returned after several days due to the imminent birth of his second child. He applied to race management for an extension, which was granted, but he has since been unable to resume the passage and subsequently did not arrive in La Rochelle by the cut-off point.
French adventurer Hedrich, 52, announced his participation in the race at a press conference in Paris in July but has not taken the necessary steps to ensure his participation. His yacht Respectons La Terre, famous in the sailing world as La Cigare Rouge, has remained untouched for several months.
Four other VELUX 5 OCEANS racers, Chris Stanmore-Major from Britain, Christophe Bullens from Belgium, Australia’s Garry Golding and Polish sailor Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski, will all arrive in La Rochelle by the end of the week, joining Brad Van Liew (USA) and Derek Hatfield (CAN) who arrived over the weekend. Due to extenuating circumstances the skippers applied to the race team for special dispensation to arrive late, which was granted.
VELUX 5 OCEANS race director David Adams said: “The key priority for the VELUX 5 OCEANS race management is safety. Charles and Simon failed to prove to the race management that they and their yachts are up to the challenge of sailing solo through some of the world’s most hostile environments. Both skippers failed to comply with a number of the rules set out by the race management, leaving us with no choice but to refuse their entries. Our decision does not change in any way our commitment to the rest of the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet and the race looks set to be a fantastic event for all stakeholders.”
“If it was easy, everyone would do it,” added American ocean racer Brad Van Liew, who has now qualified for his third VELUX 5 OCEANS. “I don’t think anyone expected it to be this difficult to reach the starting line, and the economic times have definitely contributed to the difficulty of getting here, but here we are and there are plenty of competitive entries to make it a great race.”
The decision by race management means the VELUX 5 OCEANS will now go ahead with six international skippers. Throughout the nine months of the race these sailors will be backed by an unparalleled structure of support. More than €1.3 million is being invested in accommodation, logistics and onboard communication ensured by title sponsor VELUX Group and other race partners. The skippers will also compete for a prize fund of €500,000, the largest prize in solo ocean racing.
Each team will be given €3,500 per stopover to assist with accommodation costs. Danish shipping line Maersk Line is providing complimentary marine transportation services to skippers, shipping 18 containers around the world. Furthermore, each yacht will carry a cutting edge communications package including a system of high-tech onboard cameras and powerful SAILOR 250 FleetBroadband satellite broadband connection. Skippers will also be provided with M-Link Voyager video editing and compressing software, as well as a broadband airtime package to facilitate daily multimedia content and the latest weather information.
Through the support of VELUX, the race is investing in excess of €2.6 million to promote the event around the world, communicating across all channels in three languages (English, French and Polish), and engaging some of the leading providers of content for television, photography, press relations and digital applications. With the race village set to open in La Rochelle on October 9, the event will be a fantastic celebration of solo ocean racing.
The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After heading from La Rochelle, France to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France. The VELUX 5 OCEANS will start at 4pm on October 17 from La Rochelle.