The Vendée Globe is a singlehanded sailing race, yet each solo skipper could not succeed without a skilled and dedicated team on land. This team has prepared the boat, and while the skipper is at sea, are on call 24/7 to advise the skipper by satellite phone on technical repairs or problem-solving. The entire endeavor is very much a group effort with the skipper being the point person at sea.
We have a team in the United Kingdom who are expert in the latest Open 60 technologies (electronics, sails, rigging, carbon boat-building, etc.), and a team in the United States who have installed equipment specified by the UK team. When the boat was in the USA, the UK team would come over and help the USA team. In this way, everyone got to know each other, and so although separated by an ocean, they are all on the same page regarding our boat, project, and effort.
Additionally, we have our sitesALIVE team, who are essential to our project’s mission of education. These include web experts, curriculum designers, program managers, and business experts to manage the relationships with our partners. Weekly, we have a Skype call that now includes both boat and sitesALIVE people to ensure that all communications that might affect the program are known by all.
I, as solo skipper offshore, am just the tip of the iceberg of our project. The real value is out there in the classrooms around the world – is it working for the teachers and for their students?
The topic of perseverance is natural since the voyage and the program are so long while they are operational. Yet our planning and development, both for boat and program, has been going on for even longer, for several years. All involved will require tremendous perseverance to get to the finish line. And so to see this through one can glean a lesson for many other aspects and challenges of life: you just have to keep at it, until it’s done.
Yesterday I went from 3 reefs to 2 reefs to 1 reef to the full mainsail. On the pedestal winch, that meant about 500 revolutions in a medium gear, or 1000 revolutions in a lower gear. I thought my arms, hands, and fingers would fall off! I was utterly exhausted at the end, but it had to be done for the weather conditions. Persevering paid off and we went quickly through the night with the correct sail for the weather conditions.