Arriving in London, for a quick meeting with one of London’s top sports’ law firms, the work began on negotiating a multi-year contract with the American giant’s head office.
At the same time as completing the contract with Motorola, Conrad needed to purchase an Open 60 so that there would be time to refit and brand for the start of The Transat, the qualifying race for the Vendée Globe. With just a seven week turn around to build a new team from scratch and complete the purchase and refit of the ex-Ecover Open 60, Conrad together with his Project Manager Joff Brown got stuck in.Having reached an 11th hour agreement with the British sailor, Mike Golding to purchase the ex-Ecover for over £500K, Conrad received an email from Motorola’s Head of Sponsorship saying the deal was off – the same day they were due to sign contracts. It was a dark day – the legal bill was already over £10K!
In stepped one of Motorola’s senior European VP and managed to persuade head office to agree a 2 year programme with no new boat. The project was back on track, and although there would be no new boat built for 2005, Conrad had enough support to continue with the purchase of Golding’s Open 60 and get to the startline of the Vendée Globe 2004-5.
With just a seven week turn around to build a new team from scratch and complete the purchase and refit of the ex-Ecover Open 60, Conrad together with his Project Manager Joff Brown got stuck in. The freshly painted “HELLOMOTO” was christened in Plymouth just days before the start of the Transat and Conrad had one simple objective to finish and qualify for the Vendee Globe.
The race was to be a tough one, two boats dismasted, one capsized after suffering keel failure and several skippers forced to turn back to Plymouth. Conrad’s options were limited, failure to finish would result in a breach of contract and would mean not only no qualification for the Vendée Globe, but every possibility that the sponsorship could be terminated. The damage to the fleet had taken it’s toll and on the 10th day, Conrad found himself in 4th place, just a hundred metres from his great friend and rival, Australian Nick Maloney. Both skippers, were exhausted and later Conrad would fall into a deep sleep and dreamt that his project manager, Joff Brown was safely at the helm. He awoke some 2 hours later with the boat screaming south at 25 knots with the big code 5 still up. Conrad rushed onto deck, naked and still half asleep and wrestled to get the monster sail down, before it pulled the mast down. No damage done, but 40 miles in the wrong direction put him south of the Gulf Stream and blew his chance of a top four finish. Nonetheless, finishing the race in 5th place ensured he had qualified for the coveted Vendée Globe.