Our Canadian ocean racer has started the Velux 5 oceans race. The race is run in 5 ocean sprints. From La Rochelle France to Cape Town South Africa, then to Wellington New Zealand, Salvador Brazil, Charlton Carolina, and back to La Rochelle in June of 2011
It's been a long hard road for Derek to get where he is. Here's the short story:
First he Built an Open 40 at his parents home on the east coast of Canada. He funded the build from his own money, but was unable to secure a title sponsor for the boat. To pay for gear and racing expenses he solicited donations from Canadians. In exchange he gave donors a piece of branded gear and painted their name on the hull. He campaigned the boat under the name of "Spirit of Canada" In 2003 he entered the "Around alone" race. Unfortunately he was dis masted rounding cape horn. He spent several months in Brazil acquiring a new rig and installing it. Then he went back out and finished the race. What I found remarkable about this was that when the race finished, Derek was still at sea. He attended the closing ceremonies virtually, and when he did finish he was awarded 3rd place in class II. From this success he started fund raising to Build an Open 60. The fund raising, and the build wasn't complete until 2008, when Derek entered "Spirit of Canada" in the Vende Globe race, again with funds raised from Canadian sailors and yacht clubs. The Vende is the single handed ocean race with no stops. Derek was dis masted in a vicious storm shortly after the start, and along with several other competitors returned to the start to make repairs and restart the race. He was able to make good progress and catch back up with some of the fleet when he again suffered rig damage. This time a spreader and some shrouds failed. He abandoned racing, jury rigged a repair and sailed into Australia. He made repairs and sold off the boat to cover the loans he had taken out to pay his expenses to a Canadian Consortium who renamed her "O Canada" and are expected to race her in the next year or so.
That brings us up to the present. Having been bitten by the ocean racing bug Derek didn't give up campaigning. He entered the current edition of "Around Alone", now called the Velux 5 oceans after it's new sponsor. The new innovation in this edition is the Eco 60 class of Yacht, which consists of open 60's built before 2003 and requires skippers to produce the smallest ecological foot print possible during the race. Derek is going around with electricity generated by wind and solar and is caring no diesel fuel at all. This time around Derek has a title sponsor, "Active House" They have provided Derek with the funds to ensure the boat is in excellent shape and to pay for new sails immediately before the start. In the past Derek has raced with the gear and sails he could afford and didn't always have the best of equipment. As the boat is now painted in the Active House colors there is not a place for the names of the donors on the outside of the hull. They are now painted on the inside of the cabin roof where Derek will see them daily and remember all those who have supported him.
As I write this Derek and Active House are headed for the equator and the Doldrums. He didn't have a great first couple of days at sea and made a couple of tactical errors that placed him to the east of his competitors and in lighter wind. The Duldums should slow the other boats and hopfully Derick can play his cards correctly and make some gains.
Here's some links for more info