I feel great to be here, back in Les Sables starting a new challenge where I feel at ease and in control. My last Vendee Globe with Motorola was a whirlwind, in the space of two years, we had gone from Route du Rhum to Vendee Globe. There was no time to reflect, to train, to learn. We simply reacted to the programme and delivered a great campaign with a win in the TJV, a 5th in the Transat and a 7th in the Vendee Globe…job done. This time it is different. We are starting at the beginning of a much more strategic campaign and will put the block in place more carefully and monitor the results before moving forward, content to take some steps backward before moving forward. In the same way we will secure new partnerships for the team, taking a long term view, building a family of partners that are with us for the next 5+years and who strategically will help us reach new goals.
I look at the fleet of 26 Figaros moored here on the Vendee pontoon and feel great pride to be here. Amongst the fleet are the next generation of Vendee sailors, and they are young and hungry for success. Guys like Fabian Delahaye and Thomas Ruyant who are setting the pace in solo offshore sailing, hot on the heels of Francois Gabart who has now made the break into the IMOCA 60 under the watchful eye of “Le Professeur” Michael Desjoyeax.
The game has changed a lot since 2008 and I think in 2012 we will see a much leaner Vendee Globe, with less boats and a tighter focus. It is likely that there will be quite a few secondhand boats available with the potential for a very cost effective, sharp focused project, that with the right sailor and team, could sneak a great result – like Sam Davies in 2008. The question, is who to back, with so many of the biggest names in solo sailing either off doing multi one design or other things, the 2012 Vendee could be wide open. The Artemis Academy is backing the Figaro as the proving ground for Britain’s next Vendee star and I think this is the place to start. Getting a campaign up and running from scratch takes enormous self belief and conviction, It took me 5 years from 1999-2004 to nuture Motorola towards the goal. I’m under no illusions just how hard it will be to do it all again, but this time, I plan to stay in control and lay the blocks carefully so that by 2016 we are ready to again take on the world.
The countdown starts here, in Les Sables back where it finished in 2005. The 2011 Figaro season kicks off in 36hrs and I look forward to getting out there and learning from the very best. You can follow our first event on twitter @conradhumphreys, www.facebook.com/conradhumphreys, our website www.conradhumphreys.com and the official website http://solofigarolessables.blogspot.com. Each of the boats are fitted with tracking devices, so you should be able to watch the race unfold over 48hours from Thursday 17th-Saturday 19th.