Steve reviews his Vendee Globe completion.
28 April 2009 - Memories....and thanks.
It is strange to be writing a blog from the comfort of my own dining room with the dogs at my feet, rather than hanging on for grim death on the boat, or even just sitting at an angle. Somehow the Vendee Globe now seems a lifetime away; it passed very quickly at the time, and life has continued to hurtle by at an alarming pace since the finish.
Of all the memories that remain of the race, I think the most poignant is not a sailing one but a human one; the finish and our return up the canal in Les Sables, which was watched by forty to fifty thousand people so they say. I was totally blown away by the whole thing, it was unlike anything I have ever experienced before - people on the water, people lining the sides of the canal and the balconies of the apartments behind them.
I found it difficult to believe that they had all come to see me in, and try as I might to think of another reason for their presence, that was evidently what they were there for. It started from sixteen miles out, when the local lifeboat came out to meet me with the guys on board from the Port de Commerce who had helped to lift the boat out before the start.
By the time we were a couple of miles from the finish there were dozens of boats, big and small completely surrounding us, then it was over the line, friends, family and journalists on board, and finally, after one hundred and nine days I handed over the responsibility of the boat to Marco from the V1D2 boatyard in France, then someone said, Look at the people in the canal!
I feel very humbled and honoured that all those people had turned out, and particularly to those people on the various ferries who had paid their fares to come out and see me rather than as with other campaigns where they were full of corporate guests, hired by sponsors; and also to Luca and Frank who RIBbed my family and friends out to the finish line free of charge, because by this stage we had no money left.
Lots of things have changed since I got back. I am starting to get a handle on how much media was generated; people we don't know are being very kind to us and very complimentary, and I am still slightly embarrassed by this and slightly unsure as to how to deal with it. It is bizarre, you go sailing for a while and when you get back everyone treats you very differently.
I am very aware that many people have written to Kim and I, both directly and through the Vendee Globe website. We have all of those e-mails now, and will continue responding to everyone over the coming months - be patient with us, there's only us two and hundreds of e-mails! Likewise, for those that have asked for posters we are on the case too! Thank you all so much for your support.
We had a great party at the Royal Dorset Yacht Club when Robin Knox-Johnston, Simon Kearsley and my son Jason and I bought the boat home to Weymouth on the 9th, and I was given an Honorary Membership of the club, who then did us proud with a great spread of food and made everyone feel welcome! I would like to thank the Commodore Gareth Peasdon and his team for their hospitality and the membership - I've never been a member of a club before!
We are just about ready to begin approaching potential sponsors again now; by the end of the week our budgets and proposal will be in order and we can get moving towards the next Vendee Globe in 2012, and the Velux 5-Oceans in 2010 / 2011, plus all the other great Trans-Atlantic Races, Fastnets and Round Britain Races between now and 2013.