New skipper for Around Alone
Following a game of Open 60 musical chairs, Belgium Vendee Globe competitor Patrick de Radigues (above) has announced his entry in Around Alone using the former Aquitaine Innovations of Yves Parlier. Unfortunately this has resulted in the withdrawal of French skipper Marc Thiercelin who was also trying to buy this boat, having sold his Open 60, Somewhere (a sistership of Gartmore and Ecover) to fellow Vendee Globe competitor Joe Seeten.
De Radigues took part in the 1996/7 Vendee Globe on board the Open 60 clunker Afibel, and although he completed the voyage around the world, was not classed as he stopped in New Zealand. Four years later he sailed the speedy Berret/Racoupeau Open 50 Saving (renamed La Libre Belgique) in the Vendee Globe, but narrowly escaped with his life when he was knocked unconsious by the boom and woke up when his yacht ran on to a beach on the coast of Portugal.
The former motor racing driver who lives in Monaco will announce his new sponsor mid-June, but has confirmed that he has a three year campaign including both Around Alone and the Vendee Globe 2004.
The former Aquitaine Innovations Open 60 caused quite a stir when she was launched in 1996 as she was the first Open 60 to be fitted with a rotating wingmast, rigged with the help of 'deck spreaders', an idea of Yves Parlier's and a feature which has since been adopted by a number of Open 60s such as Mike Golding's Ecover.
The boat has won the 'Gold Race' from New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn, the Fastnet Race, the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Route du Rhum and the Round Europe Race, but it was for the Vendee Globe that the boat will be remembered. During this race Parlier dismasted in the Southern Ocean and remarkably not only saved the rig, but pulled into southernmost New Zealand and managed not only to repair the broken carbon spar, but to restep it - singlehandedly.
Around Alone's new Belgium entry now brings the number of nationalities taking part in the singlehanded round the world race with stops up to 12, with the 19 boats confirmed. Unfortunately at present there are no British entries, with the announcement recently that Mike Golding will be taking part in the Route du Rhum, an event which clashed with Around Alone's dates.