Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spirt of Canada heading south

Thanks to Alan Cyr for the photo.
SKIPPER DEREK Hatfield got a windy welcome to Halifax this week, but the weather barely registered with the solo sailor, who is used to extreme conditions.

"This is not a storm; this is just windy," Hatfield said Friday as his sleek red Spirit of Canada Open 60 racing boat bucked and strained against the sturdy lines that held her fast to the dock at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

"This is just another sailing day," Hatfield said.

The kind of weather systems that sends most sailors racing for shelter is the type that Hatfield, 55, will seek out when he embarks on a solo race across the Atlantic late next month.
"Thirty to 35 per cent of sailing around the world is weather like today," said Hatfield, raising his voice to be heard over the humming of the rigging and the slapping of the waves against the hull.
Hatfield made headlines across Canada after he suffered a near-fatal dismasting while rounding Cape Horn during the 2002 Around Alone single-handed race. Since then, the New Brunswick native has dedicated himself full time to his next campaign, the 2008 Vendee Globe, a solo, non-stop, around-the-world race starting and ending in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

His upcoming race, the Transat B2B from Salvador Bahia, Brazil, to Port la Foret, France, is necessary to qualify for the Vendee Globe, which begins a year from now. -