Conrad Colman, the return of the comeback kid

Following an epic Vendée Globe, where he became the third solo skipper in the history of the round-the-world challenge to finish under a jury rig, Conrad Colman is now gearing up for a return to the Barcelona World Race. Remembered by all as one of the most engaging communicators from the last edition of the BWR, the unflappable kiwi skipper is finalising project details as he sets his sights on the start on the 12th of January 2019.

News JAN 29, 2018 10:06

In the most recentVendée Globe, Conrad Colman (Auckland, 1983) made his entry into the temple of ocean sailing that is Les Sables D’Olonne and in doing so, wrote another chapter of Vendée history. He joined the ranks of the unshakable solo skippers, those who have taken completing the race to epic levels, fighting with every last drop of energy and ingenuity to finish sailing’s ‘Everest’. Conrad Colman’s name has now been etched in the race’s honour roll at the French port, as the third ever skipper to finish the Vendée Globe under jury rig. Before him, Philippe Poupon in 1993; and in 2001, Yves Parlier, who managed to complete the circumnavigation after fixing his mast back together in a New Zealand cove.

Give up? Never!

After dismasting due to forestay damage at just 700 nautical miles from the finish, the New-Zealander constructed a makeshift jury rig using his boom, a piece of mainsail and his storm jib. He then took 12 days to reach Les Sables D’Olonne, making his way through testing patches of calm and storms. By the time he crossed the line, after 110 days at sea, he had run out of food and used up the survival rations from his life raft; but he had finished! “I found the strength to take up these challenges and I managed to finish. That was my aim”.

A trained sailmaker and rigger before he became an ocean racing skipper, Conrad had already become well-known for his capacity to overcome adversity during the last Barcelona World Race. He joined Nandor Fa on Spirit of Hungary, and handled a number of rig damage issues and even stepped in as ‘doctor’ when he had to suture a wound on his Hungarian co-skipper’s head. The resilient kiwi skipper also entertained ocean racing fans with his brilliant on-board reports and contagious affability during videoconferences, which garnered him a growing fan base.

He began sailing in his native New Zealand before heading to the USA to study economics, later settling in Lorient, France, where he began his solo career with a Mini-Transat in 2009. In 2010, he moved into the Class40s for the Route du Rhum. It was in the Class40s that he enjoyed his first taste of great sailing success with a win in the Global Ocean Race 2012 and a second place in the Atlantic Cup 2013. He moved into the IMOCA Class with Spirit of Hungary taking seventh place in the Barcelona World Race 2014/15.

On the 14th of June he joined the IMOCA Executive Committee in Barcelona for the first time: "The new format is fantastic, and it’s great for capturing a wider audience and will attract many more skippers,” he said at the FNOB headquarters. “The two round the world regattas complement each other well on the calendar and today we’ve been working on maximising the benefits for both of those events. Of course, I’m hoping to be on the starting line on the 12th January 2019”. We’ll see you there Conrad!