Courtesy of the Motorola Ocean Racing Team
In exactly one week’s time, our Open 60 HELLOMOTO will be lining up against 16 other competitors for the 2004 Transat. Yesterday afternoon my shore team and I were a few miles off the breakwater in Plymouth Sound testing electronic equipment and making final preparations. I feel calm and at ease with our preparations, in fact so much so that last Sunday morning Vikki (my wife) and a friend donned our frog suits to clean the bottom of the boat and a surprised camera crew commented that it was the first time they had seen a skipper in the water scrubbing his boat – I said we were having a “relaxing” Sunday morning!
Open 60 Hellomoto. She used to be Group 4.
With just a week to go until the start, we would normally be under intense pressure to be ready. This time we have stayed comfortably in control of the programme after an incredible few months of intense activity. A little over three months has passed since we signed a new two-year contract with our long term sponsor, Motorola. In those three months a lot has had to happen. We have secured one of the top flight generation Open 60’s and carried out an extensive refit to improve her performance, built a new team that look after core aspects of the programme from race preparation and communications to finance and logistics. We have a new base here in Plymouth Yacht Haven and several new Plymouth business partners have joined our newly formed Motorola Ocean Racing Team. I’m often asked how do you prepare for a transatlantic race like this? “Self-belief and the courage to take a few risks” is how I often reply.
In a project like this you are often faced with insurmountable mountains to climb and obstacles to clear. I am very lucky to be surrounded by a team of people who just don’t see them. “Keeping it simple” is one of our key attributes we all adhere to, and one where I feel we have a distinct advantage over some of our competitors. I have maintained quietly throughout our preparation that my experience in this class is perhaps our biggest opponent. Therefore we have focused on making HELLOMOTO easier to sail and using the power of the yacht more efficiently. Three months ago, I had a wish list for optimising HELLOMOTO that ran over several sheets of A4. The reality is that with just eight weeks to complete a full refit, we tackled just a few key aspects that would greatly increase my ability to race the boat closer to its full potential. If we had taken on too much, I think we would now be running around like a bunch of headless chickens without the resources to be ready. We will continue our optimisation after the Transat, but for now HELLOMOTO sits in Plymouth Yacht Haven ready to race in her seventh transatlantic. Her record is a good one; she has finished every race inside the top three. This year is Vendeé Globe year and we are using this race to qualify. To do that we have to complete the course. This is my primary goal, the result will follow.
Motorola and our new Plymouth partners Vospers Ford, Plymouth Yacht Haven, Yacht Parts Plymouth and Noakes & Habermehl Opticians have given us the chance to raise our game and compete with the very best Open 60 sailors in the world in one of the most exciting and dynamic fleets of grand prix racing yachts to grace our oceans. We would not be here without your generous support. We would not be here at all without some individuals taking a few risks, and as the publics perception of grand prix ocean racing maybe that it is a sport not without risk, let me just say that often the risks taken by skippers and their teams to reach the start line of these historical races sometimes far outweighs the physical risk of the competition. Every skipper has a story to tell about the limits they have gone to just take part in a race as special as this. None of us could have done this without the foundations of a strong team. For me, I am indebted to my wife, Vikki for having the strength to keep believing in me as we push aside the obstacles and keep our dreams on track.
This is my first diary piece for 2004 and it would not be complete without saying thank you to Plymouth for all your support. I’m looking forward to sharing this fantastic adventure with you mile by mile and I hope for those of you in Plymouth that you will visit the race village over the bank-holiday weekend and come and watch the start at 1400hrs on Monday.
In the meantime take a look at your “things to do list” and with a little self-belief and courage make them happen. Conrad
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