Bravery in the attempt -104th day of the Vendee Globe

I can’t believe that it’s over a hundred days since the Vendee Globe started, it feels like it started just the other day. The race is winding down with only 7 skippers left till the end of the competition.

The top 10 crossed the finish line from 19 Jan till the 17th of February, with the latest being Fabrice Amedeo who crossed the finish line earlier today and claimed 11th place.

I understand that the nature of any race or competition is to crown the winner, second and third place but the Vendee Globe and any world sailing race differs especially solo races.

Every Skipper who competes on these kind of races are winners to me, the bravery to compete solo without assistance on a world race with nature’s forces: water and wind is beyond my comprehension. The 11 Skippers who had to dismaster along the way, due to damages etc, I am pretty sure making those decisions was by far one of the hardest decisions they made.They’re also winners and heroes in my eyes, I have a lot of respect for them.

Every skipper was just as impressive as the next, Fabrice Amedeo kept us entertained with his video clips. I remember watching one of his first video clips and mind you my French understanding is minimal but I watched till the end and laughed as well. And his playlist was just out of the world from hiphop to pop, he engaged us in a different way compared to the rest of the fleet.

One of the lessons that #VG2016 taught me is that in this thing called life, our races are different and nothing is wrong with that. One must learn to focus on their journey and not get distracted to see what others are doing. Do you, Be the Best you!

Approx 10 days to the #VG2016 finish line

 

63 days ago 29 skippers set sail and embarked on the 8th edition of Vendee Globe non-stop solo round the world without assistance and the first boat/s are expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne in 10 days. If we see this first boat by the 18th, they would’ve set a new record of 74 days compared to Francois Gabart’s 78 days in 2013.

Only 71 sailors out of 138 have crossed the finished since the start of Vendee Globe. 64 days into the 8th edition, 18 out of 29 sailors are still competing.

This edition has  quite a number of VG veterans but it was great to see newcomers like Morgan Lagraviere -SAFRAN. I remember seeing him weep at departure and some people thought he wouldn’t get very far due to being too emotional that early, I think he did very well despite the damage on his boat. I mean he was giving  veterans a run for their money for a while there. His name is still on the leaderboards for the 2nd Best Distance and Speed in 24hrs since the start of the race.

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Morgan Lagraviere – SAFRAN Photo by Vendee Globe

While my athlete competitive heart goes out to the skippers who had to dismaster within the last 63 days, sometimes situations are beyond our control and that is probably the worst thing to happen to any athlete but I’m glad there has been no casualties. They deserve a standing ovation for the attempt, VG is not for everyone…only the bravest!

When the race started, Dee Caffari mentioned in her commentary that this edition would ultimately be the battle of the hydrofoil boats. Hydrofoils have dominated the top spots of the race with the current Top 4 right now.

It has been a game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can between the race leaders Armel and Alex, Alex is literally breathing down Armel’s neck and this for me has been the best part of the competition or rather what makes race exciting.

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Alex Thomson – HUGO BOSS #VG2016

Armel seems to have picked up some speed but Alex- the comeback kid is still on his tail at 88.63nm and that is nothing to Alex even for an amateur like me. Alex is beasting, he is out for blood and understandably so. This is 4th appearance in the race with a 3rd place in 2013. Whereas this is the 3rd attempt by Armel, he unlike Alex finished 2nd in his last two Vendee Globes.

I think the most exciting part of any competition/race is when a game/race can go either way especially the last day/minute…and something tells me that we’ll see that next week. I don’t Armel and Alex will be sleeping much, if at all for the next couple of days.

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Armel Le Cléac’h – Banque Populaire VIII #VG2016

Whatever happens, it has been a thrilling lesson for me to follow #VG2016. It is actually the first sailing competition I have followed from beginning to end. I learnt a lot, I have been glued to the tracker, newsfeeds since the beginning.

 

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ZULU-GIRL HOPES TO BRAVE THE WATERS IN VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2017/18

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Lungi Mchunu in training at the Gulf of Morbihan, France

Lungi Mchunu may be the only South African on-board one of the boats in the world’s longest professional sporting event and leading offshore sailing competition, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October 2017, as she hopes to be appointed as an On-Board Reporter (OBR) for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18.

 

Sport has always been a passion for the energetic 30-year-old, who describes herself as a humble Zulu girl.  Lungi played basketball as a teenager, and following an injury, turned to coaching and mentorship in the sport, which she continues to do today.  Lungi is no stranger to the media world either, as she founded and managed a basketball magazine called B-Ball Mag SA.  She attended games around the world and reported on them, wrote profiles on players, found advertisers and sponsors for her magazine and development events – all while still maintaining a suit-and-tie 9-to-5 job during the week.  Lungi is an avid photographer, often had her eye behind the lens capturing every lay-up, three-point shot, and mid-court break from court-side.

 

All of this experience would culminate in nine months at sea, after Lungi did the unimaginable – and applied to join the crew of the Volvo Ocean Race.  “I’ve always loved the sea but I was afraid of open waters, so for me to even apply for this role was an achievement,” said Lungi.  “Everyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve always tried to live my dreams by refusing to be crippled by fear; and knowing that this scared me, I applied anyway,” she said.

 

Sailing is the only sport that has a dedicated multimedia journalist embedded in the team of athletes, right in the middle of the action. In what could only be described as one of the world’s toughest media jobs, the role of an OBR would be to provide creative content from the boat, around the clock, and provide real life on-board experiences for the millions of followers of the race. She would be required to shoot video footage, capture still photographs, write, edit and transmit content to Race Control, daily, with the occasional live satellite calls.  In a nutshell, Lungi would be the eyes and ears of Race Control on the boat, and her responsibility would be to capture the excitement, anxieties, raw emotions, and crew dynamics in their entirety.

 

As part of the crew, Lungi would cross four oceans – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian and Southern Oceans in a race that is split into nine legs. Each leg will start and finish in leading cities around the world, known as Host Ports. Cape Town is the 3rd Host Port, and is listed as one of the race’s favourite ports, and Lungi would be glad to see home ground continuing with the remaining six legs of the race.

 

With a little over 300 days before the race begins, preparation and readiness is already underway.  “In order for my application to be accepted, I would need to demonstrate that I would be able to tell the story of the sailors as authentically as possible, and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to share the journey if I had not walked (sailed) a mile in the sailors’ shoes,” she said.  This required that she learn how to sail.   In addition to adding advance swimming to her already hectic training regimen, Lungi applied to sailing school . . . in France!  In November 2016, Lungi learnt how to sail on the choppy waters off the west coast of France, and loved every minute of it.  “My instructor gave me the wheel after 20 minutes into the sea! I was nervous but excited. It was so cold and I was shivering with four layers of clothes on, but I took it like a soldier,” she said.

The following days were made up of breakfast at 5:00am and they would set sail at 6:00am; anchorage for lunch and every night was spent at the nearest port. “After two days, the ocean was my home. I had a sense of belonging and felt great. I expected to get sea-sick due to the motion of the boat, but I didn’t suffer at all,” she said.  The experience was not without thrills, as the waves were big, and the vessel was often on its side. The temperate of the water was icy cold, which served as great acclimatisation for Lungi, as sailing during the European winter is no joke, especially as South Africa enjoys warmer winters and warmer waters.

Lungi clearly took to sailing like a duck takes to water and impressed her French instructor, who agreed to host her again during the European summer, where she can work towards a Skipper License. Lungi’s focus for the next two months is to spend as much time on the coast as possible, and sail as often as she can.

When asked why she chose this as the next adventure of her life (because there have been many), she replied, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I would sail, and I have!”

Follow Lungi’s sailing adventure on Instagram @lungisails Twitter : @Blk_Rose