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March 18th, 2006

Press Release

Guy Bernardin and “Spray” Arrive in Cape Town

At 16:30 Friday March 17th the weary but good humoured solo circumnavigator, Guy Bernardin, arrived in Cape Town, concluding a 24 day passage from Walvis Bay.

Guy, an Honorary Citizen of the city, has a long association with Cape Town, having first reached her shores on board Ratso during the 1982/3 BOC race and then Biscuits LU in the 1986/7 BOC.

Tunisian born, Guy was raised in Saint Briac in France and comes from a long line of seafarers. His grandfather and great grandfather were both ship’s captains and Cape-Horners. At 61, Guy has one of the most impressive records in the sailing world. He has competed in all the well known short-handed races including the Ostar, Two Star and Route du Rhum and was the initiator of the world renowned Vendée Globe.

Guy’s passion for boats, the open sea and his planet carried him across the globe for 20 years aboard racing boats. Then, fascinated by the exploits of the first single-handed, round-the-world navigator, Joshua Slocum, he set off in 1995 to relive Slocum’s heroic voyage,. The voyage, a centenary commemoration of the original event, was on board an exact replica of the legendary “Spray” and it is this vessel, “Spray of St Briac”, which is now alongside at Royal Cape Yacht Club.

RCYC Commodore, Russell Vollmer, in welcoming the solo circumnavigator to the club, said “In our centenary year we are particularly proud to welcome Guy. Slocum himself anchored here all those years ago and it is great to be associated with a tribute to that famous voyage.”

Settled at his mooring at RCYC, Guy added that “Cape Town has always been a very good stop because of the hospitality of the people. It is quite unique in the world. I am disappointed that there are now few single-handed stops here. People should see what Cape Town has to offer. There is good food, good wine, good everything.”

The voyage which Guy is now undertaking was originally intended to take 10 months. However, stops along the way have forced the schedule to be revised. Having set sail from Les Sables on September 11, Guy’s passage was interrupted by a stop in Santa Cruz to repair a broken alternator. The doldrums ahead were to prove far more of a challenge and, if the light airs were not enough, a missing keel bolt, only later identified, had Guy pumping out between 700 and 1,000 litres of water a day. There were still more obstacles ahead. The plate holding the port sidestay broke while off the coast of Brazil, making it near impossible to sail on port tack in a heavy breeze. Having headed back toward Cape Town, the broken plate, combined with the notorious South Easter, eventually proved too much and, on Christmas Day, Guy had to change course to Walvis Bay.

A few weeks in Walvis Bay saw “Spray” repaired and ready to again face the ocean wave, but the voyage from Walvis Bay was also to provide many tests of patience and endurance. “Spray”, for all her beauty, does not have the ability to sail toward the wind and this means there are places she simply cannot go. The voyage from Walvis Bay thus became a very long passage and, all told, equates to Guy spending five months alone at sea.

Nonetheless, he would not trade places with anyone and, although disappointed by the stops, the task before him is to ready “Spray” for the next leg, across the infamous Southern Ocean to New Zealand and the notorious Cape Horn.

Speaking from France, Campaign Manager Hervé Nougier congratulated Guy on his patience and good spirit. “We all understand the difficulties he has been through. Sailing without the assistance of modern technology, and sharing his experience through his SSB radio, he has demonstrated his loyalty to Slocum’s legacy. We look forward to seeing him resume this commendable journey.”

11 Septembre 2005:

Guy Bernardin a quitté Les Sables d'Olonne ce dimanche 11 septembre vers 10 heures, après avoir répondu aux dernières questions de la presse et remercié le public présent. Pour l'homme et le bateau, ce départ est apparu comme une libération, après des mois de préparation et d'attente de conditions favorables. Fort des nombreux soutiens et gestes de solidarité reçus de la part des vendéens, Guy est parti avec un moral et une motivation chargés à bloc.

La remontée du chenal des Sables s'est effectuée en compagnie de dizaines d'embarcations de toutes tailles, dont beaucoup n'ont pu aller bien loin du fait de l'importance de la houle. En fin de matinée, le dernier bateau accompagnateur rebroussait chemin. Guy se retrouvait enfin seul et se concentrait sur les réglages du Spray, qui traçait sa route en puissance dans une mer chaotique.

La lumière était magnifique, le moment intense.

Pendant les dix mois du voyage, les contacts avec Guy se feront par l'intermédiaire de radio-amateurs vendéens. Des rendez-vous ont été pris pour des vacations radio hebdomadaires, dont certaines seront destinées aux enfants de l'école primaire de Jard-sur-Mer. Toutes les informations provenant du bord (position, enregistrement de la vacation, infos météo...) seront mises en ligne sur le site dés que possible.

Contact presse: Hervé Nougier / Association Résonances (06 11 40 91 16 /


Partenaires: Association Résonances

"Tant qu'il y aura la mer"

Le parcours de Guy Bernardin témoigne de sa passion de l’aventure maritime et de la découverte:

• En 1982-83, il fait partie des pionniers qui participent à la première véritable course en solitaire avec escales de l’Histoire, le BOC Challenge.
• En 1986-87, il participe à la seconde édition dont il figure parmi les favoris. En route, il imagine avec d’autres skippers une course ultime: sans escale et sans assistance…
• En 1989, il est au départ du premier Vendée Globe

• en 1898, le capitaine Joshua Slocum bouclait sur Spray le premier tour du monde en solitaire à la voile de l’Histoire, en 13 escales.
• en 1998, Guy Bernardin réédite au même âge le voyage de Slocum à bord de la réplique de Spray, pour mesurer l’exploit de son illustre prédécesseur.
• en 2005, Guy Bernardin repart autour du monde sur Spray, mais cette fois-ci sans escale et sans assistance, pour conquérir un nouveau sommet inviolé de l’aventure maritime.