New boat for Hatfield

Spirit of Canada skipper acquires the former Solidaires

Friday March 26th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Canada

Canada'S most experienced round the world yachtsman can today announce the purchase of a yacht to race in the Velux 5 Oceans. Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges has bought the Eco 60 yacht Great America III (formerly Thierry Dubois' Solidaires) from veteran American solo sailor Rich Wilson.

The boat will now be renamed Spirit of Canada ahead of the 30,000 mile Velux 5 Oceans race, which starts from La Rochelle in October. It will be the second time Derek, a native of New Brunswick, has competed in the race after finishing third in Class II in 2002/03.

Derek, the 2003 Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year, said: "The new Spirit of Canada has a fantastic pedigree for round the world races and I know the boat well. The boat is in perfect condition and Rich spared no expense in getting ready for the last Vendée Globe and it is ready to go again with very little preparation. We are very excited about the new ECO 60 class and the new Spirit of Canada."

Designed by Bernard Nivelt for French single hander Thierry Dubois, the new Spirit of Canada was launched in 1999 before being raced in the 2000 Vendée Globe. She competed in the 2002/03 version of the Velux 5 Oceans finishing second in Class I. In both the 2004 and 2008 Vendée Globe races she was skippered to a credible seventh position.

Derek will now race her in the Eco 60 class in the Velux 5 Oceans. The Eco 60 class is for Open 60 yachts launched before 2003, taking away the emphasis on money and putting it back on the skill, seamanship and determination of each sailor. Derek plans to be the first person in history to race around the world without the use of fossil fuels to operate the boat.

He added: "The Velux 5 Oceans is all about 'Inspiring by Leading', showing as many people as possible that everyone can make a difference and collectively we can make a big difference to future generations."

Derek will start training in early May sailing the boat from its current berth in France to Nova Scotia where it will begin its transformation into Spirit of Canada. The yacht will adopt the instantly recognisable Spirit of Canada red colours as well as the familiar boat number 84, proudly placed on her bows. The names of 7,000 supporters will also be transported across from Derek's last Open 60 Spirit of Canada. The names, collected during Derek's eight-year-campaign, will serve as 'virtual crew' during the long solitary passages at sea.

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