Today, the organisers of the Around Alone Race confirmed their first registered late entry into Class I of Around Alone 2002/3, as 45yr old Belgian skipper Patrick de Radigues, who has just bought the Open 60 'Aquitaine Innovations', previously helmed by renowned French sailor Yves Parlier. De Radigues is himself to announce his new sponsor and campaign mid-June 2002, but is able to confirm now that his project is to last for 3 years, starting with Around Alone 2002/3 and ending with the Vendée Globe 2004. He has kept the shore team who supported Yves Parlier's campaign in order to prepare the boat for the September 15th start in New York, USA.
Launched in 1996, the boat 'Aquitaine Innovations' is famous in her own right under Parlier's helm not only as a 'floating laboratory' of technical innovation, but also as the winner of five major oceanic races between 1997 and 1999: the Fastnet, Transat Jacques Vabre, Gold Race, Route Du Rhum, and the Round Europe race. The duo hit the international headlines during the Vendée Globe 2000/1, when 'Aquitaine Innovations' dismasted whilst leading the fleet well into the Southern Ocean. Parlier remarkably decided to repair the mast alone at sea, and without seeking outside assistance or supplies, in order that he could finish the race in the rankings. Such an achievement put both Parlier and 'Aquitaine Innovations' firmly into sailing's history books.
As for the new skipper, prior to his ocean-racing exploits, Patrick de Radigues, now resident in Monaco, was better known on the motor-racing circuit, as a champion motorbike driver, and notably winner of the Bol D'Or in the mid 1980's. He then exchanged wheels for hulls and participated in the 1995 Transat Jacques Vabre, finishing 3rd overall, and went on to complete the 1996/7 Vendée Globe on the 60ft boat 'Full Immersion' (Afibel), but wasn't classed as he made a long stop in New Zealand. In 2000, he participated as a co-skipper on board Jean-Luc Nélias 60ft trimaran 'Belgacom' in the Quebec - St. Malo Transat 2000, coming 5th overall.
The Belgian skipper took the start of the Vendée Globe in November 2000 on the highly competitive Open 50 'La Libre Belgique' (known as 'Saving'). De Radigues was leading his class during the first week of racing down the Western coastline of Europe, until he was knocked unconscious on the boat by falling and hitting his head on a winch. Remarkably, both skipper & boat washed up safe and unharmed on a sandy Portugese beach.
This new entry means that there are now 12 nationalities competing in Around Alone 2002/3, however, the total number of skippers remains at 19, and Class I entrants at 8, due to French skipper Marc Thiercelin unfortunately withdrawing, because he was hoping to buy the same boat.
The Around Alone 2002-3 starts on Sunday 15 September 2002 from New York. The race takes the fleet from New York to Torbay (England), then Cape Town (South Africa), Tauranga (New Zealand) and Salvador de Bahia (Brasil), before returning to Newport in April 2003. The official entry list of competitors consists of 19 competitors from 12 different nationalities; 8 in Class I, 10 in Class II, and one in the 'Venturer' Class.