Return Of The Jedi

Return Of The Jedi

Since the announcement that solo ocean racer Brad Van Liew was entering the Velux 5 Oceans Race, we haven’t heard much besides the few tidbits we’ve found at his very slick website.  But that’s all about to change with a vengeance.

Brad’s in La Rochelle, France, aboard his new (to him) Open 60.  He just landed there, and now a few days of hard work are ahead before he crosses the Atlantic bound for Charleston, SC with three long-time crew.  It’s one of the lightest Open 60s ever built, with one of the tallest masts –  this is Marc Thiercelin’s Pro-Forms, formerly Tiscali, formerly Whirlpool, and it’ll compete in the Eco60 Class of the next Velux, where it looks like most of the action will be.

Brad has picked up where he left off with the stellar communication that won him numerous awards during every leg of the Around Alone, though the world has moved on from Quokka – his daily updates are now in blog form with pics, along with the obligatory Facebook and Twitter backup, and his Lazarus Project website just relaunched with all-new content tonight.  Given his track record, we expect to hear good stories from Van Liew frequently during his 5000 NM trip home from France, and of course we’ll be aboard the minute he hits the dock.

You can read about the snow-covered preparation party, a story about a tiny blue French car, and see a prototype of possibly the most revolutionary gadget in onboard power generation since the generator at the blog, and here’s the report from Monday:

Leaving On A Jet Plane
Saying good night last night to the kids was more emotional than I would have expected. 

I couldn’t hide my feelings and concerns from Tate – she picked up on my sadness and became very emotional herself, you just can’t fool her for a minute!  5 year-old Wyatt doesn’t quite grasp the enormity of the whole ‘sailing across the North Atlantic in the dead  of winter’ thing so was a bit less emotional. Time really buries the bad stuff – I’d forgotten so many of the feelings that have occurred in the past twenty-four hours, but they’re familiar as well – leaving your family for the unknown is just not something that ever disappears from your heart.  Leaving like this is just so different than the days before I loved these creatures so much more than life itself, and I continue to promise myself to be cautious and make dammed sure to stay on the boat…

The whole process of embarking on this next campaign is intended to be an epic journey not just for me and my shore crew, but for the entire family. I want it to be a hugely positive experience for the kids, and the lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes as I loaded Tate into her carpool this morning – well, no matter how exciting, anything can happen and it would be foolish to forget about that whenever any of us put to sea.

Tate was all questions this morning, just as she has been for the past couple of months of living the circus that the startup of a major ocean race campaign like the Velux 5 Oceans is.  But today’s questions were different than last week’s; they’ve changed from "Daddy, when can I go to France?" to "Daddy, why can’t Jeffrey and the crew bring the boat home without you?"

Life is all about balancing how bad you want it, and great things take great sacrifice.  In some ways I feel alive again for the first time in years, and in others, the desk in a warm office and the associated life-treadmill seems an easy way to to stave off the lump in my throat.

I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it.  And God knows I love it.  And now, I head to an airliner for my reunion with destiny.  The race has already started, and the rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet.