Race around the planet? Solo? At age 66, Rich Wil­son is ready

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race is not for the faint­hearted, but at 66 Rich Wil­son is ready to risk in­jury, ex­haus­tion and hur­ri­cane force winds a sec­ond time.

Wil­son, one of four over-60s in the gru­elling race that starts this week­end at Les Sables d’Olonne, en­dured bro­ken ribs, crushed ver­te­brae and a deep cut in his face when he com­peted in 2009.

Masts that break in a gale and the con­stant threat of be­ing swept over­board over­shad­ows all 29 en­tries in this edition of the race held ev­ery four years.

Wil­son said he is very aware of the fate that be­fell top Chi­nese nav­i­ga­tor Guo Chuan who went miss­ing in the Pa­cific last week while at­tempt­ing to get from San Fran­cisco to Shang­hai in less than 20 days.

“If such things can hap­pen to him one can en­vis­age the same things hap­pen­ing to less ac­com­plished nav­i­ga­tors,” the skip­per of Great Amer­i­can IV told AFP.

This time the Mas­sachus­sets In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy-ed­u­cated pro­fes­sor has vowed to tell ev­ery bump and scrape to an au­di­ence of hun­dreds of thou­sands of school chil­dren from Tai­wan to Ten­nessee.

“Def­i­nitely,” he told when asked whether his on board ad­ven­ture would get a full and frank air­ing on his site­salive.com which aims to use ad­ven­ture to en­cour­age chil­dren to learn. Thou­sands of schools have signed up to fol­low his pro­gram.

“I am an asthma suf­ferer on top of all the other chal­lenges in this, so I will tell it all.”

Wil­son will have to eat 5000-6000 calo­ries a day, in­stead of the usual 2000, to keep up with the en­er­gys­ap­ping sched­ule. Last time he lost weight de­spite the ex­tra food and most com­peti­tors lose mus­cle bulk be­cause of the lim­ited space.

The sleep de­pri­va­tion – four or five hours each day for about 100 days – is an ad­di­tional trap await­ing com­peti­tors.

His blog and other ed­u­ca­tional work will take up two hours a day.

Last time, Wil­son’s au­topi­lot broke down for the fi­nal month so he had to check the winds ev­ery 20 min­utes to keep on course.

“It is ab­so­lutely ex­haust­ing as well as stress­ful for many,” he said.

As in 2009, Wil­son will again be the old­est com­peti­tor, but not the only se­nior in the race.

Enda O’Coineen, 61, will be the first Ir­ish­man to take part in the race now in its eighth edition. O’Coi­need also runs an ed­u­ca­tional trust and is pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Ir­ish Pubs.

“At the press con­fer­ence in Paris, I was asked was I con­cerned about the younger sailors in the race, so I said I thought they’d be okay,” O’Coineen told the Ir­ish Times.

Dutch busi­ness­man Pi­eter Heerema, 65, will be one of nine rook­ies in the race.

Nan­dor Fa, 63 took part in the sec­ond Vendee Globe in 1992 and took fifth place. He also knows the risks – in 1996 he had to give up af­ter a col­li­sion.

“There are eight or nine skip­pers in with a chance of win­ning. For the rest of us the aim is to fin­ish this per­sonal ad­ven­ture in the best con­di­tions,” said Wil­son. The oth­ers agreed. “I have a long way to go and I’m no spring chicken,” said Heerema. But he in­sisted the po­si­tion does not mat­ter. “My chal­lenge is to com­plete the voy­age. Make it all the way around the world alone.” – ANDY Mur­ray will meet Fer­nando Ver­dasco in his open­ing match at the Paris Mas­ters af­ter the Spa­niard ad­vanced at the ex­pense of in­jured Dutch­man Robin Haase on Oc­to­ber 31.

Ver­dasco, a for­mer world num­ber seven, was lead­ing 6-2, 3-2 be­fore a hip in­jury forced Haase to throw in the towel in their first-round en­counter.

World num­ber two Mur­ray can de­throne No­vak Djokovic at the top of the rank­ings with vic­tory in the French cap­i­tal if the Serb fails to reach the fi­nal, or if the Bri­ton makes the fi­nal and Djokovic falls be­fore the semis.

For­mer Aus­tralian Open fi­nal­ist Mar­cos Bagh­datis de­feated French wild­card Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-4, while Benoit Paire joined the French ex­o­dus af­ter los­ing 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to Paolo Lorenzi.

Pablo Car­reno Busta, who de­feated Fabio Fognini to lift the Krem­lin Cup in Moscow a week ago, dealt the Ital­ian an­other loss in Paris, rac­ing to a 6-3, 6-1 vic­tory.

Djokovic takes on the winner of yes­ter­day’s match be­tween Nico­las Al­ma­gro and Gilles Muller af­ter re­ceiv­ing a first-round bye, while US Open cham­pion Stan Wawrinka be­gins against Ger­many’s Jan-Len­nard Struff, who thrashed Illya Marchenko 6-1, 6-1.

Tomas Berdych is ninth in the Race to Lon­don stand­ings with the Czech need­ing to progress to the last four to re­main in with a chance of play­ing at the end-of-sea­son Tour fi­nals next month.

He trails Do­minic Thiem and Marin Cilic, a winner in Basel at the week­end, in the bat­tle for the fi­nal two places in the eight-man field and must beat Por­tu­gal’s Joao Sousa to re­main in con­tention. –

Photo: AFP

Andy Mur­ray of Great Britain re­turns a ball dur­ing the fi­nal match against JoWil­fried Tsonga of France at the ATP Er­ste Bank Open Ten­nis tour­na­ment in Vi­enna, Aus­tria, on Oc­to­ber 30.

Amer­i­can Rich Wil­son will be one of four over-60-year-olds to com­pete in the Vendee Globe solo round-the­world yacht race.

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