Belgian Ocean Racer Christophe Bullens Determined To Make Race Start

Christophe BullensChristophe will announce latest plans for the VELUX 5 OCEANS at a press conference tomorrow

Christophe Bullens and his team have been working tirelessly to find a new boat to race in the VELUX 5 OCEANS after Five Oceans of Smiles was cruelly dismasted on the way to La Rochelle earlier this week.

The mast broke into three pieces while Christophe and a small crew were sailing around 15 miles off Cherbourg in Normandy, France. It also punctured a hole in the hull of Five Oceans of Smiles. The dismasting couldn't have come at a worse time there is now just over one week until the start of the 30,000-mile solo round the world race which begins in La Rochelle on October 17.

While many would have given up, Christophe and his small band of volunteers jumped straight into the job of finding a new Eco 60 yacht to race. Since Monday, Christophe has been to see several Eco 60s which are on the market in France and remains positive about being on the VELUX 5 OCEANS start line.

Christophe's shore manager Els Vandermeulen said: "Christophe has looked at several boats and now has a few different options which are all doable. Not competing in the VELUX 5 OCEANS is simply not an option for Christophe."

Since the dismasting, Christophe and his team have been inundated with offers of help from fans all over Belgium and France. A team of fans are travelling to Cherbourg this weekend to help prepare Five Oceans of Smiles for the voyage back to Belgium. Another offer of help came from British former VELUX 5 OCEANS competitor Josh Hall who is now based in France.

Els added: "We have had so many offers of help, even from people we have never met. It is very touching and very much appreciated. VELUX Belgium contacted us straight away to offer their help and of course we are in communication with the VELUX 5 OCEANS race management in La Rochelle."

Christophe will announce his plans for the VELUX 5 OCEANS in La Rochelle tomorrow.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After setting off on October 17 from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

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