The Race is the first-ever no-limits, non-stop, no-assistance round the world sailing competition. It is both a sporting event and a cultural experience - uniting the talents of the world's elite sailors in a highly visible media event that spans the globe. It started from Barcelona, Spain on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2000. The first competitors should finish 60-70 days later in France.
Some of the finest sailors in the world have entered The Race, battling it out on six very fast boats.
Led by world class sailor Cam Lewis, an American entrant, Team Adventure, is comprised of some of the most talented individuals in the business, communications and sailing fields. It is a unique blend of business savvy, high-tech communications expertise and on-the-water sailing experience. The team includes Whitbread veterans Skip Novak, Bill Biewenga and Brian Hancock, Keith Taylor communications and businessmen Larry Rosenfeld and Michael Shetzer.
The awesome power and speed of a massive catamaran barreling across the Southern Ocean is the promise of the new Team Adventure flagship. This 110-footer is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots. Designed and engineered by the talented multihull designer, Gilles Ollier, the boat is 60 feet wide with a mast that stretches 150 feet off the water.
As one of the world's top sailors, Came Lewis is the skipper and CEO of the boat. Cam raced aboard the maxi-catamaran Commodore Explorer
in 1993 when it won the first TrophÃ©e Jules Verne for the world's fastest circumnavigation. It earned him the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award. Cam holds the westbound Transatlantic record with Laurent Bourgnon on Primagaz
and has won numerous World Championships and other titles including the America's Cup in 1988 aboard Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes
Cam and his crew also wore RailRiders when the won the Trophee Jules Verne. We interviewed Cam this past winter as he was preparing for The Race.
Q: Have you had any close calls on the high seas?
Yes, fortunately enough, there have been many close calls, but nothing like stepping up into a life raft or any real disasters. I've certainly have been in experiences where there has been trouble on board. In `93, when we were going on the Trophe Jules Verne, we got into a low pressure system, and on our approach toward Cape Horn from the Pacific side heading east we had over 85 knots of wind and more than 60 knots for 24 hours. These were extreme storm conditions where we had no sails up and where essentially the helm was lashed and we were careening towards Cape Horn basically at the mercy of the seven gods and other deities that rule the seven seas. We were rolling along and, fortunately for us, neither the wind nor the waves were connected well enough to flip us over, but that was certainly on our minds.
Q: Have you ever been knocked down or turtled?
No. Only on smaller dinghies and cats and of course windsurfing in huge surf, but on a big monohull, I have never rolled all the way.
Q: Is a cat harder to flip over?
With a catamaran they're easy to flip over. Any boat can capsize, whether it's the Titanic or even the biggest, heaviest displacement type of vessel. These things happen with easy combinations of waves and wind. But I've been relatively fortunate to stay out of harm's way, but I've had a lot of close encounters. I have been hit by small rogue waves and things like that.
Q: What's the difference between a cat and a trimaran?
Well, a cat is two hulls and a tri is three hulls. Usually most racing trimarans are a little bit wider than the catamarans.They have a little bit more riding momentum.
Q: Is it easier to outrun a storm or to just shut everything down and anchor the boat?
Typically in a perfect world, especially today on the bigger racing sailboats -mono- hulls, cats or tris - where you can track the weather with live satellite pictures which you can download straight to your laptop on a boat in almost any ocean of the world is that with good information, you can outrun most of the storms.
Q: You really can?
Yeah. We're capable of doing on a new boat 20-plus knots, and if we know where the storms are, we can typically avoid them. The way that most racing type sailboats operate with information -having outside weather assistance- is not thought of cheating anymore.
Q: Talk about the Jules Verne race. How many crew members were on the boat?
There was five of us.
Q: What was your job as one of the crew members?
Because it was a five-person team, my direct duties were in charge of nutrition and did a lot of the food preparation and such. I was in charge of all the safety equipment. We joked that I was the minister of the interior.All of the bunks, all the food, all the storage, all the preparation, all of the heaters, CD's, galleys, storage of everything down below, not necessarily the systems and stuff like that, but basically getting everything organized.
Q: What about sailing responsibilities?
We were a five-person team. So everybody shared duties.
Q: How did you get hooked up with your skipper Bruno Peron?
I met Bruno in 1986, when he'd competed in a doublehanded Transatlantic race from France and New York City to celebrate the Statue of Liberty's centennial. We became friends then and started sailing together that summer and started racing together the following summer in crewed events --fully-crewed events. Then we did one doublehanded race from France down to Dakar.
Q: I've heard that one of the dangers of crossing the Atlantic is running into tankers which don't see you crossing the shipping lanes.
Well, yeah, basically you've got to consider the fact that most commercial traffic is probably an autopilot and nobody's on watch. That's what you have to think about when you see a commercial ship. They don't see you and nobody's on watch. Not that it's true, but the most professional, biggest cargo ships the decks are manned, but the smaller, more banana boat-type boats are basically on cruise control. The same thing happens when.we're sailing across the Atlantic doublehanded and we'll be on autopilot and nobody on deck for awhile. We'll have the radar on and stuff, but if there was a wooden Viking ship out there, we wouldn't pick it up and run into it.
Q: I don't think Leif Erickson has been doing any sailing lately. I've also read other accounts where these cargo or tanker ships have containers that sometimes fall off the deck and they don't even know it and they're just bobbing in the sea. Does that happen?
Some of these see these ships have containers stacked quite high, and so what happens in storms they either won't be attached or they will let them go so they don't roll over and sink, because they top-load the hell out of these ships.
Q: They let them go? How many of those containers would they lose?
Cam Lewis: You'd have to go to the commercial shipping reports. You probably heard a few years ago that the beach in Oregon was flushed with Nikes running up on the beach - the container bursting open.
Q: So you haven't had any close calls with container ships or tankers?
Yeah, I've certainly had close calls with ships, yes. Typically on a catamaran or trimaran, today what we'll have on board is a radar transponder so we'll be sending out a radar response signal, so a 60-foot trimaran will look like a 5,000-foot ship, almost, on radar!
Q: Tell me about this new speed race around the world that you're going to be doing.
The basic idea of "The Race" was - it came about when we sailed around the world, basically around Antarctica, when Bruno Peron was sort of putting on his Jules Verne hat, thinking forward, thinking into the future like Jules Verne was. Anyway, so Bruno was dreaming up a race with the best of the best of sailors. An event with no rules, no limits on the size of the boat with no handicaps. The first to finish wins.
Q: Have you ever had the desire to do the singlehanded Vende Globe?
I don't like myself enough to spend 100-110 days alone at sea.
Q: What's the longest you've been alone on the high seas?
Probably 24 hours, or 30 hours.
Q: So you're a social creature?
I grew up sailing Lasers and Finns, did a lot of singlehanded dinghy sailing, which is fantastic. I certainly do admire anybody who goes out for a singlehanded voyage. but in this country, singlehanded sailing was and is still thought to be a bit- stupid! : But in France, they're considered heroes. They are legends.
Q: How does that feel when one of your fellow colleagues dies at sea?
It's tragic. It's tragic when I know more people who have died at sea than in car wrecks, but I certainly understand the risk. I've known quite a few sailors who have been lost at sea, but it's, when you basically die doing what you like to do, that's part of life. It doesn't sit well with me, it's hard to explain to my wife and my children, who are six and four and don't understand yet. You can make an analogy, like the most dangerous part of any trip I take is the drive to the airport-but that's the truth.
Q: Even though the Southern Ocean has been called the Dead Man's Graveyard.
The Southern Ocean is not a friendly place and is not a place to play in. I've been around the world once. I feel fortunate to come away unscathed. Some people may walk away from it, say I've been there, done that, but I always thought that I wanted to ne the captain of my own boat and do it, bigger and better and that's what I'll try to do.
Q: How many days do you think that The Race will take you?
We're looking at somewhere between 60 and 65 days.
Q: What are your expectations in terms of The Race? How do you think you'll do?
Well, I want to win. I don't like second place or third place, but realistically, like a lot of these events, it's quite a bit of a race to get into the race, and I think that with our crew selection, equipment selection and such, we'll be in good shape. Success is only gained by decision making, teamwork and, ultimately, there's a lot of luck involved.
Q: Finally, when did you start wearing RailRiders?
I wore them on my first-around-the world race. They were these bright orange shorts-the Approach shorts. In a boat you don't take a lot of junk. You pack light and sometimes it's wet down below so you want to be able to sit in a puddle, without being the puddle.They dried dry pretty fast, just like a pair of surfer baggies, And when we're going through the equator when you are actually in tropical types of conditions, we'd be only wearing these shorts, for to twelve to fourteen days.
For more information about The Race, visit www.therace.org. and Cam Lewis's site - www.teamadventure.org.