Vendee Globe: First German in the toughest regatta in the world

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First German in the toughest regatta in the world

Vendee Globe: First German in the toughest regatta in the world-german

Jorg Riechers has celebrated various successes as a sailor in the past few months. He already owns the boat with which he wants to take part in the Vendee Globe

Source: Mare publishing house

The Hamburg solo sailor Jorg Riechers wants to be the first German to take part in the toughest regatta of all. Two extreme athletes paid with their lives in the race for over 24,000 nautical miles.

Jorg Riechers has a dream. And he’s getting closer and closer to him. The Hamburg solo sailor wants to take part in the Vendee Globe in 2016. The toughest regatta in the world, launched in 1989, is still little known in Germany. In France, on the other hand, it is the celebrated birthplace of national heroes.

"Every French child in the village, no matter how far from the sea, knows the Vendee Globe," says Riechers, "this regatta has the same status in France as the Olympic Games or a football World Cup." In the weeks before a new Vendee start Up to 70,000 people make a pilgrimage to the harbor every day to see the sailors and boats. “People have to wait for hours to take a look at their heroes and see the boats up close,” says Riechers.

The Vendee Globe is the toughest sailing race in the world and Jorg Riechers wants to be the first non-French to win it. One-handed and non-stop, the participants race around the world every four years on classy Open 60 boats. Little known in Germany, the hunt around the globe in France has the status of a modern gladiator arena, in which France’s best sailors fight for the high seas crown.

The start and finish of the race is the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne. The courageous skippers have to cover 24,000 nautical miles as the crow flies and around 28,000 nautical miles on the water, around 30 percent of which in the icy Southern Ocean.

Two dead at the Vendee Globe

Outside help or entering the country are strictly forbidden, lack of sleep is the worst enemy. The course is easy to understand: The Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leuwin and Cape Horn are to be passed. Sometimes additional “ice gates” are set in order to minimize the risk of collisions with broken pieces of ice. But what does that mean??

The Vendee Globe has claimed two lives in seven editions to date: In the second, the Briton Nigel Burgess went overboard, one edition later the Canadian Gerry Roufs was lost. The failure rate for the circumnavigation, which takes place every four years, is around 50 percent. Broken masts, broken materials, collisions with so-called "UFOs" (Unknown Floating Objects), broken bones on board – the list of threatening scenarios is long.

Dramatic capsizing and rescue operations are the stuff that the Vendee legend is made of. Whoever wins this race is guaranteed admiration for life and beyond.

Sailed as a child

Now a German has broken into the French phalanx. Riechers is a late whiz kid. In his childhood, his quickly growing passion for sport in wind and waves was first nourished on his parents’ yacht of the Maxi 77 type. Because he worked in the family’s plumbing business, he was always able to take time out for sailing assignments.

He switched from his father’s X-95 yacht to other boat classes. In the laser he was one of the best German taxpayers and trained “an incredible amount on the Hamburg Alster”. He became vice European champion on a J-24 and US vice champion on a Mumm 36. The trigger for the switch to the professional camp in 2005 was the participation in the French classic “Figaro”, a sailing one-hand rally around half of Europe.

“Even as a child, I dreamed of becoming a professional sailing enthusiast,” says Riechers. Since then, Riechers has lived and worked more in France than in Hamburg, has learned French and, victory after victory, earned the recognition of the French, who initially raised him for his thoroughness.

Victory in the Normandy Channel Race

Riechers has just won another long haul in the Normandy Channel Race on his smaller Class 40 yacht “Mare”. For the 44-year-old, the two-hand race at the side of his co-skipper Pierre Brasseur was training and a filling station for increasing self-confidence in one.

French newspapers are now reporting on the "terrifying German" when they report another Riechers success. Halvard Marbière, who was third in the Channel Race, paid tribute to the triumphant: “I think Jorg is hard to beat this season.” What “l’allemand” does so well?

Riechers himself names his most important characteristics: “I know how to sail boats fast and I can fight.” His rise in recent years surprised Riechers himself: “I always knew that I couldn’t sail that badly, but that I had Having been in the top group for two years is great. "

Reinhold Messner as a role model

Riechers role models include extreme mountaineer Reinhold Messner: “He did a great job and never allowed himself to be discouraged.” Like most single-handed sailors, however, Riechers finds it difficult to explain his “slightly masochistic pleasure” in solitary combat at sea.

He wants even more of it. Riechers plans his summit storm, the first Vendee participation of a German sailor, like a general: in two stages and supplemented by further regatta starts. Participation in the two-hand race Barcelona World Race 2014/2015 has been decided in the medium term, because this regatta for teams of two will be held on Open 60 yachts like the Vendee Globe and is therefore the perfect dress rehearsal for the solo start two years later.

Riechers bought a used Open 60 for his journeyman’s piece in the Barcelona World Race. Later he wants to control the 18 meter long boat alone in the Vendee Globe. With the French Sebastien Audigane, he has brought an experienced co-skipper on board. The team’s World Race budget is 2.5 million euros.

Riechers recently drew additional strength from the knowledge that he could fall back on a good team on land. When the mast of his Class 40 yacht “Mare” broke shortly before the Normandy Channel Race, his team proved itself: They worked four days and four nights in order to be able to send the front man into the race with the new mast. “They have surpassed themselves”, praises Skipper Riechers, “now we know that we are well equipped for emergencies. Feel good."

The fact that Riechers is getting closer to his goal is thanks not only to his exceptional achievements but also to “Mare” publisher Nikolaus Gelpke. He finances Riechers as the “racing team owner” and says: “Ocean races are very inspiring. The achievements of the sailors are admirable. It is a modern and noble adventure. "

Gelpke admits that he once had big things in mind: “I once thought I could take part in the BOC race, which was the leading one-handed race around the world at the time. But I couldn’t, because I obviously have genes that Jorg lacks: the fear gene. "

Gelpke describes Riechers as "practical, unconventional and at the same time highly professional". That sounds like German virtues, mixed with French passion. Riechers himself believes: "If we don’t reach the Vendee starting line this time, then a German will never make it."

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