by Rich Wilson, Skipper Great American III

The Vendée Globe race instructions state simply: start at Les Sables d’Olonne (France), leave Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) to port, leave Cape Leeuwin (Australia) to port, leave Cape Horn (Chile) to port, leave Antarctica to starboard, finish at Les Sables d’Olonne; 26,000 miles, 100 days, solo, non-stop, without assistance, in 60’ sailboats.

Thirty sailors—men and women—are entered from seven countries. The fleet includes the best and toughest sailors in the world. They are friendly with and respectful of each other, perhaps because they know that if they have a problem deep in the Southern Ocean, thousands of miles from land, a rescuer will likely be a competitor, as has happened before.

I have followed this race in the past, but always shied away; it was too hard, too long, and too dangerous. What changed? My attitude. A young boy, in the crowd of thousands on the dock, put it best by simply saying in French “C’est important a participer.” It is important to participate. And that’s why I’m here even though I’m the only American, the oldest skipper at 58, and not one of the favorites to win.

Equally important to me is the chance to connect with students and families around the world with this Newspapers In Education program and our website. For me at sea, the science, geography, math, and history will all be living topics. It will be a great adventure. Welcome Aboard!