Status Report, July 25, 2009

July 29th, 2009

Hello from Spirit of Canada

Well, where do I start. The last six months has been the most difficult period in the entire 13 years of the Spirit of Canada campaign. I have delayed this status report numerous times in order to be able to report something positive as we have worked our way through a very difficult period.

Back in January and after seven difficult weeks in Hobart, Australia without finding the budget to ship Spirit of Canada back home, I left Hobart on the Open 60 with the idea of heading back to France on my own hoping that the repairs to the mast and electronics were complete. It very quickly became apparent that we had not completely gotten the bugs out of the autopilots. Facing a cold and hard slog around the Horn late in the season and without proper autopilots, I made the difficult decision to head for New Zealand where I knew qualified people were waiting to help.

Mentally and physically, I was exhausted from the retirement from the Vendee Globe and the setbacks of the repairs. With a crushing 1.2 million dollar loan outstanding on the Open 60 and a requirement to repay it within 6 months after the end of the Vendee Globe; I was finding it difficult to make positive decisions required to move forward with the campaign. The hunt for new sponsors has proved fruitless in the global recession that is now upon us. It was now late in the season and Cape Horn was getting less and less plausible as a route and the Panama Canal seemed to be the most reasonable route now backs to the Northern Hemisphere.

I left the boat in Auckland and returned to Canada as the financial realities started to sink in and it became obvious that we did not have the financial wherewithal to maintain the Open 60. Discussions commenced with the lender and for the past three months we have been negotiating with them to turn the boat over for the outstanding amount of the loan. This arrangement is bitter sweet to say the least but a move in the right direction. As of the end of June, the Open 60 belongs to a fellow Canadian. I am not certain at this time what the plans are for the Open 60 or if I will be involved with it but I very proud that the boat will continue to be of Canadian registry.

As you can imagine, the Vendee Globe did not finish the way we expected. Only 11 of the original 30 competitors managed to complete the course. I know a lot of people are as disappointed as we are with the results. I am hugely disappointed and I feel it is unfinished business. I am constantly overwhelmed with the positive emails and the support that we have received from Canadians across the country. When I’m feeling a bit discouraged, I go back and read the emails, as they are full of encouragement and kind words. I want to thank everyone for those emails; without them, I feel that things would be a lot more difficult. Again, thank you for all your support and I look forward to thanking you all in person when the opportunity presents itself in the future.

At this point, I am in the Maritimes with the family and starting to think about future sailing projects. I have started to write a book about the past two around the world races (the Around Alone 2002 and the Vendee Globe 2008) to honor our sponsors and the individuals that have supported Spirit of Canada over the past 13 years. We are also planning to do a number of appearances and speaking engagements in the upcoming months.

The team and I have learned so much about professional sailing campaigns over the past 13 years that we are committed to continue with Spirit of Canada. We are beginning to work towards an exciting new campaign and I will be announcing the details of the next Spirit of Canada project in the next few months.

I hope that you are enjoying the summer.

Happy Sailing.

Take care.

Derek

Spirit of Canada Status Report

March 19th, 2009

As you can see from the position reporter on the website we have stopped in New Zealand. The problem with the main autopilot that has persisted on and off since the start of the race has once again become a problem, we thought it was repaired in Hobart but it became very evident on the first day out of Hobart that the problems were not fixed.

On top of that, I lost all the wind sensors once again and could not steer the boat on auto by true wind direction, only by compass. The IMOCA 60’s are so fast that the autopilots do not respond very well when fed compass direction only making sleep or anything away from the helm very difficult.

I had developed a bad cold the day before departing Hobart and for the first four days slept a lot and was very tired. I will be stopping in Auckland to work on the boat and fly back to Canada to spend some time with my family and work with the team to develop a plan to take care of the pilot problems and revise our delivery plans from here.

Take Care

Derek

Spirit of Canada Status Report

March 4th, 2009

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada,

Today is Day 6 of the delivery of the boat from Hobart and we find ourselves in 40kts of wind, upwind of course. These boats really don’t like these conditions and neither do the skippers. The bashing and crashing is hard on the nerves and makes any sort of rest impossible.

The first night proved challenging when the autopilots would not drive the boat under true wind setting so it was difficult to get any rest or to work on the other systems on the boat. The autopilots have still not been resolved after 6 days at sea and we are now without wind instruments so the decision has been made to make a stop, this time in New Zealand to try once and for all to sort the electronics out before setting off again. Alone in the southern ocean is not a place to be when the boat is not completely sorted, the conditions here are unforgiving and these boats are so finely tuned that if you leave yourself exposed for any length of time something will break.

More news soon. Take care,

Derek

Spirit of Canada Departs Hobart

February 27th, 2009

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada

At 22.00hr UTC Derek Hatfield departed Hobart, Tasmania on the reconditioned IMOCA 60 Algimouss Spirit of Canada, he is determined to complete the course that he started in November as a participant in the Vendee Globe single handed race around the world.

Derek will be posting regular updates and pictures along the way.

Team Algimouss Spirit of Canada

Spirit of Canada Update from Hobart

February 17th, 2009

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada

Hobart, Tasmania

It’s been six weeks since arriving in Hobart with Algimouss Spirit of Canada. During this time we have been slowly getting the boat back to sailing configuration. The remaining Vendee Globe competitors have been racing to the finish in Les Sables and it has been fantastic following the race from the sidelines but I must admit to a twinge of “unfinished business” for us as I watch and read about them going up the “channel” in Les Sables. It’s pure magic and it makes my resolve even stronger to be a part of the race again in four years time. The team has a lot of hurdles to overcome and they won’t be easy but that is why the Vendee Globe is the hardest race in the world.

The new rigging from Navtec has arrived and the two spreaders for the mast are slated to arrive early on Monday the 16th February and with some luck with the weather, the mast will be back up Monday evening. I’ve decided to sail the boat back and it will take about 3 days to prepare for departure. The auction for a co-skipper has not been productive and shipping the boat back has now been ruled out due to the costs. I am really anxious to get the boat home so that we can move forward with the campaign and start preparing for the future.

I plan on doing regular updates along the way and will provide as much commentary and pictures as possible. The route from Hobart will take us across the Tasman Sea, south of New Zealand, across the South Pacific, around Cape Horn and north to the North Atlantic. I won’t be alone on the course though as two other races are currently doing the same route. The Volvo Ocean Race and the Portimao Global Ocean Race fleets will be sailing the same waters and rounding the infamous set of rocks at Cape Horn at about the same.

More news on the departure from Hobart in about four day’s time

Take Care

Derek

Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges Announces Unique Sailing Opportunity of a Lifetime

January 22nd, 2009

Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges announce a sailing opportunity of a lifetime for an individual sailor to co-skipper the IMOCA 60 Algimouss Spirit of Canada on the delivery leg from Hobart, Australia to Les Sable d’Olonne, France. The route will take the two sailors into the Southern Ocean; round the famous Cape Horn and northward in the Atlantics across the equator to France.

On 28th December 2008, Derek was forced to retire from the Vendee Globe 2008 after a large breaking wave rolled the IMOCA 60 Algimouss Spirit of Canada breaking two of the mast spreaders. Unable to complete repairs without outside assistance, Derek was forced to retire from the race and headed for Hobart in Tasmania where repairs are currently being completed. The boat will be ready to set sail again in February in order to deliver the boat back to the northern hemisphere for the 2009 IMOCA racing season.

Derek commented on this unique sailing offer; “We have been looking at a number of different options with regard to getting the boat back to France. We have a very limited budget and someone suggested that we might be able to raise money by auctioning off sailing positions on the delivery back to France. I know a lot of sailors would love to have a chance to sail in the remote southern ocean, round Cape Horn and cross the equator. This is a unique opportunity to do all of these things on an IMOCA 60 fully kitted out for the Vendee Globe. We are attempting to find out if there is any interest in this opportunity and if there is, we will hold an auction for the co-skipper position. The successful bidder can decide to sail the entire trip or leave the boat at a number of ports along the route.”

Individuals interested in this unique opportunity to sail an IMOCA 60 around Cape Horn, contact Derek Hatfield at: derek@spiritofcanada.net

Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges Team

Jan 19 Status Report

January 19th, 2009

Hello From Algimouss Spirit of Canada

It’s been a busy week for Patianne and I here in Hobart as we deal with the many issues surrounding the repair of Spirit of Canada. On Wednesday, we took the Open 60 around to the inner harbour and with the help of INCAT and the port authourity; TAS Ports; took the mast down with a crane. The mast is now safely stored in one of their warehouse facilities and will be there until we put it back up in a few weeks. On Friday, after dealing with the Customs paperwork, I shipped the broken pieces back to Composites Solutions in the Unites States and they will fix and/or replace the spreaders. It is a real testament to CSI and their carbon mast manufacturing ability in the fact that the mast is still standing. The mast did a lot of wobbling on the 1000 nautical mile sail to Hobart but remained intact. The five pieces of synthetic rigging that were damaged by the flogging spreaders have been packaged up as well and sent to Navtec in Connecticut for repair. We continue working on the long list of smaller repairs on the boat to bring Spirit of Canada back into fighting trim.

We also continue to work towards a plan to ship the boat home but there are many logistical and financial hurdles in order to complete this option. Our preference is to ship the boat to save the wear and tear on the boat but the cost of shipping the boat north is $110,000. We will continue to look for a sponsor to help finance this option. Obviously, it can be sailed back to Canada and that is why we are fixing the mast and getting the boat ready to sail so that this option is available. The repair bill for the mast, rigging, sails and assorted repairs and logistics alone will be around $80,000. Since the retirement from the race, we have received approximately $22,000 in donations from individuals and corporations wanting to help get us home so we need to raise another $58,0000 to bring the boat back to sailing configuration.

I’m following the race now when I can and I must say that it’s tough not being out there racing. As you can imagine, it was a real shocker to have to quit the race so suddenly and I am still recovering from it. The ocean is indiscriminate in its dealings with sailors and constantly reminds me that you cannot fight the elements but only learn to deal with the conditions. The blow of the retirement is even harder knowing that we were performing well and might have had a decent result given a finish. The attrition rate for this edition has been difficult and many of the incidents will have to be discussed by the organizers, skippers and sponsors going forward. IMOCA is already planning the next discussions and the evolution of the safety rules for the future of the class and the boats. I wish all of the remaining skippers good luck on their drive to the finish line.

We are still struggling here a bit logistically as we cannot secure permanent accommodation and access to the internet. That being said, we are making good progress and the Spirit of Canada Team is totally committed to getting the boat back into racing configuration and moving forward towards being back out sailing again.

Take care,

Derek

Status Report 8 Jan 2009

January 8th, 2009

Hello from Spirit of Canada

Finally, I’m able to get to a computer and file a report to let everyone know how the Spirit of Canada team is doing. I apologize for taking so long to do this as I appreciate that people are interested in what is happening. Basic resources like the Internet have been very problematic since arriving.

Here is a recap of events since my last filed report regarding landfall on the southern tip of Tasmania. I was able to motor the last 80 miles or so across the south side of Tasmania and then north to Hobart, arriving around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. A rigid inflatable with staff and volunteers from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania met me at the mouth of the Derwent River and assisted with getting me to a slip at the yacht club in Hobart. Many thanks to the RYCT for their kind assistance and help thus far.

Patianne had arrived in Hobart from Halifax only two hours earlier after 24 hours in airplanes. It was great to see her and have her support so quickly after arrival. Sunday and Monday are just blurs in my mind as I slowly cleared the fuzziness out of my head and started to adjust to land again after 50 some odd days at sea and the shock of the retirement from the race.

Slowly we are starting to work through the different options with regard to the way forward. I have been in contact with the mast builder in North America and we have determined that we need to take the mast out of the boat and do a thorough check of the masts and rigging. Some of the composite rigging has been compromised by the sharp edges of the broken spreaders so we will have to order some new cables before the boat can go sailing again. The logistics of how to get the boat home is more problematic and will take a while longer before we can make a decision on how to do this.

I have tried to get through the hundreds of emails that are in my inbox wishing us well and suggestions/questions on how to help. I really appreciate each and every one of them and over time hope to answer most of them if I can. I will be filing regular updates to let everyone know what is happening. Again, many thanks and I really appreciate your interest in Spirit of Canada. If you would like to contact me directly to discuss any form of assistance, please send me an email: derek@spiritofcanada.net

Take care,

Derek

Daily Report Jan 2

January 3rd, 2009

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada

Position 43.55.896S x 146.11.224E
Distance to Hobart; Approx. 100 miles

I’ve just made landfall on Maatsuyker Island, one of the outer islands on the south coast of Tasmania. I have to round South East Cape and Bruny Island before heading up Storm Bay to Hobart. The landfall here has been a bit nervewracking as yesterday my GPS started operating sporatically and I have been expecting it to go down. I switched to the back up GPS only find it wasn’t working as well. My backup to the backup is a handheld GPS mounted in the window. It’s working fine and gives me a position which I then plot on the chart. Now that I’ve made landfall I feel much better. It will be a long night of motoring up Storm Bay but I am looking forward to getting ashore.

More soon. Take Care

Daily Report Jan 1

January 2nd, 2009

Hello from Algimouss Spirit of Canada

Position: 45.01S x 141.47E
Distance to go: 325 miles

I am slowly closing in on the coast of Tasmania with just over 300 miles to go to reach Hobart. The winds, albeit very strong, have been very helpful in helping me reach land. I am on starboard jibe with the wind from the south west at about 28 knots. It will clock around later today into the north west and decrease further to 15 knots for the week end. As best I can, I am predicting an arrival for Sunday in Hobart.

The mast seems to be stable enough on starboard but I will take it easier on port as that is the damaged side. The time seems to be long as I an anxious to get ashore, see the family and start working on going forward. I am watching the race from the sidelines and starting to miss the action already. I wish all the skippers well in finishing this great event.

Take Care

Derek