Vendée Globe  
93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

SOH77 – Vendée Globe day of ARRIVAL – AN INCREDIBLE SPIRIT: Nandor FA delighted with eight – the LAST ship log

?93 days 22 hours 52 minutes nonstop around the World ? (recorded SOH77 live videos here below)

The Last LOG from Nándor Fa on his ARRIVAL to Les Sables d’Olonne

“7th Febr. in the night.

During the night numerous cargos have passed us, but none of them was in our way. I couldn’t see them, only on the AIS. Showers were followed by showers, at times it was rain that’s falling, other times sleet, but my hands were freezing either ways. These showers always put an extra 15 knots on the base wind.

As I unreefed the main to the second line the boat was immediately going much more stably and I didn’t need to keep running back and forth all the time to make adjustments. Sometimes I eased slightly on the main sail, it’s been a lot of constant work onboard but we’ve been progressing very well in return, so it’s definitely worth it. It was only the second half of the night, when I felt the conditions and the boat were stable enough for me to get some sleep. But only a short one, because there are more and more fishing boats around and these are even more dangerous than the big cargos, they never get out of anyone’s route. It would have to be me who changes direction to avoid a possible collision. It’s not even the boats that I’m worried about, more those enormous fishing nets they’re carrying, that expand to more hundreds of metres below the surface.

The colour of the ocean and the waves have changed, I could feel that I was sailing on more shallow waters now. Getting closer and closer to the finish, among more and more fishing boats. I thought the bad weather would keep them inside their harbours but no, they are even more than in nice weather. At least that’s how I feel.

I started decorating the boat. I had to fix all the mandatory flags that were given to me by the race organisation, and which have to be visible onboard 30 miles before the finish (this is a rule that was included in the contract we signed). It is still wet and cold outside, despite the ice-cold shower I was getting, I took an effort to fix everything while my hands were freezing. I hoisted the Hungarian flag as well, then went inside to make a nice cup of coffee. For the first time I have a tingling feeling inside me, I’ve been overflown by the certainty of my arrival very soon. I’m going to arrive to the finish line on time, nobody will have to freeze while waiting. I received a long mail with all the details of the arrival protocol, what’s happening before and after the line, then through the channel into the harbor, etc… almost until the night every single point of the protocol is planned from minute to minute.

The sun is shining brightly, the clouds are gone, and I’m sailing among rather huge swells in perfect wind, only 30 miles left to the finish line.

At first, the houses of Les Sables d’Olonne have appeared on the horizon, I could see more and more of them, finally everything was in front of me, it was such a familiar picture. Pressure was building up inside me like in a cooker. A boat appeared on the AIS in front of me, and when it turned toward me I already knew it was coming for me. It was the brand-new rescue boat of the local life guards (the whole rescue team of experts, divers, doctors, the whole army was with us at the last events before the start, fully dressed in orange, everyone in their own professional uniforms. We shook hands with all of them one by one. My shore team was constantly chanting “please just let the skippers not have anything to do with them until they arrive”.) They tooted and turned behind me, I waved at them, they did too. Then more and more ribs appeared, and bigger yachts as well. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by a whole fleet. I saw the Spirit of Hungary rib with my technical team, another one with my family, and others with friends, media ribs of the Vendée Globe, cameras were shooting at me. And then an enormous catamaran with the sign “Kereked” on it (which is my yacht club back in Hungary at lake Balaton), with all the good friends.

It’s a pity you can’t measure happiness, it would be important. It would be so much easier to tell you how I feel. It’s a huge inner pressure in my throat, together with an incredible relief that I’m here, I’ve done it! I’ve done what I had planned to do. I built it all up in me before the race and I managed to do everything accordingly, with a systematic work, fighting all the time, having it filled with a lot of meaning. It’s not just others who had doubts but me too. At the same time I knew what I was capable of doing, and the compulsion has brought it out of me.

During all this celebration, I still had to focus on finding the 100 m long finish line, which means the end of the race for us. Huge swells were running from the West, and I still had to handle my sails on my own, to roll up the J2 and to take down the mainsail.

We agreed with the race organization, that followed by a picture taken and sent to them of the engine seal, I’m allowed to use the engine immediately. This way I’ll be able to turn towards the port, and after that my technical team can join me onboard.

In the channel of Port Olona – I arrived to Les Sables d’Olonne.

On the right side of the channel, at the end of the pier by the lighthouse there was a huge Hungairan flag with “Székesfehérvár” written on it (which is my home town), both piers were full of people awaiting me. I don’t know how many people were there but I’m sure several thousands were cheering, whistling, shouting and waving at me, of course I did too. I have no idea how I got inside the port but we did, and after a while I was there, standing beside the VG pontoon, which was again full of people. From here everything had to go strictly according to the protocol, and I got carried away by the events. The level of celebration and welcome I received, my happiness and relief are indescribable. I just let myself with the flow, which has come to a fantastic welcome party in the night.

I would like to thank everyone for all the help, support and trust that has been giving me energy. The whole series of these last four years require a very thorough analysis, which I’m not going to do right now, only later. First I have to think everything through in my mind.

A phase in my life has ended, which has been the longest phase from the moment I stepped into a little sailing boat on lake Velence for the first time in my life, until this moment where I’ve achieved all that I wanted and decided to achieve, all that was possible to fit into my life based on my knowledge, capabilities and time…”

An Incredible Spirit: Nándor Fa delighted with eighth (official VG article)

Nandor Fa was expansive, warm and happy to spend time sharing the details of his race with the public and the media, French, Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian. That he will not be back to race the Vendée Globe again, that this was the final finish line for him brought a real mix of emotions for the Hungarian skipper. The last few miles before the finish line he was already in a jubilant, boisterous mood aboard the boat he designed himself. He was on the bow punching the air, he was on the stern waving to the media and to friends and family for some 15 minutes before the line.

Photo©Török Brigi photographer:

SOH77 – Vendée Globe 2016-17 Arrival Photo© Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

The weather was to order, 15kts of NW’ly breeze and some nice leftover waves. And hundreds turned out on the banks of the channel, the Hungarian national flag was stretched of the port hand entrance ‘Bravo Nándi!’ Minutes after the line he said “It is over. I have done it. It was successful according to my rules, my hopes. This is such beautiful weather to finish, the gods are with me and the people, friends, family, who have come out to greet me, it is so overwhelming. I can’t find the right words. It was 92 days of fighting. Sometimes it felt endless. It was really long, really tough, all the time it was really wet.”

Questioned on the pontoon in the Port Olona marina, he smiled broadly: “You know this last moment now is the most important, to be here now. Everything that goes before is the past. It is history. It feels much, much shorter than the last time but it still feels really, really long and sometimes there were moments which seemed endless but equally there were weeks which just flew by, they were gone. All the way was cold, rainy, wet. I enjoyed some moments, especially talking to my family and friends, sending e-mails, I received a lot of messages which encouraged me and they really encouraged me. I needed them because sometimes it was really hard.”

Mental toughness was, he said, key, but there were touching human moments too: “I must not feel. I just do. If I started to live an emotional life it is endless. This is the trouble. I wanted to just finish the trip as fast as possible. I have to tell you that the second part of the race was not racing, it was just sailing a safe line. There was nobody around me. The nearest guy behind me was far away. The nearest guy in front of me was far away. I was sailing on the safe side. The race itself finished in the middle part of the Pacific. In fact after Stéphane Le Diraison lost the mast it was no longer a race for me. It was a nice, tough, trip which I loved. Now I need days, weeks, months to work out what happened. I did not want to leave this race with a feeling that there were things I would do later or another time. That was the way I went when it was cold, when it was dangerous, when I was almost flying away. When things happened and when you are really tired, mentally, physically, that was it, you have no power, mentally, physically, it is nature.”

He confirmed that last night, appropriately, he had broken his all time speed record for the boat, hours before finishing the Vendée Globe: “Since the middle of last night it has been good. Before that, the night before and the last day, I had a lot of wind and big waves. But last night I made my speed record, 28kts, I had flat water, the big sails were up and I had 26kts of wind and I had 50kts of gusts. I bore away and took off. I started to fly and I survived. Eighth place is far beyond my dreams. At the start I did not think about placings because this fleet is so strong. The boats are so prepared and good. I thought my place with my boat, my age it might have been 15th to 20th. My performance? I just wanted to be better than 100 days. That happened. Eighth is way beyond my imagination.”

But the finish line was the final full stop as far as his participation in the Vendée Globe is concerned: “I had great motivation to sail fast. Sometimes I was frustrated I am not fast enough. My new boat would be a flying machine. She is a boat, this one. The next one is a flying machine. It will never be built for me though. The time is gone. I am sorry about that. I don’t feel any energy to do it again right now. In four years time I will be 67. I am young in the way of thinking, I am fit but now I see what kind of energy, what kind of motivation second by second, day by day, that you really need and I know my time is gone. I don’t have it any more. The future is with my family. It will be difficult to forget.”

Asked about the comparisons with his 1992-3 race when he finished fifth, the first international skipper to finish the Vendée Globe, Fa said: “It was so different from the first one. Last time I was fighting the boat and the techniques. This time I was sailing, I can tell you I loved this boat, I am proud about the boat, about the rig, about the rigging. I had a few problems, with the electrics on the digital side. But we could fix them. I could really concentrate on the sailing, on the meteo tactics and I was doing a good race tactically, controlled all the time. I was running four or five routings a day. And then finally made my own decisions. Because the routing does not see the clouds, the seas, it does not have a perspective. It is digital something. I saw the routings and made my own choices and I feel like a made a nice race. My original purpose was to sail within 100 days. That is done. Sailing a correct, meteorologically correct race is done. I could see sailors who were faster and better than me. But now I am better. I am pleased about my mast and my boat.”

And this one was tougher than he thought, or recalled. “It is winter conditions a lot of the time, cold and wet all the time, it is a winter race. Even at the end I had snow and hail showers these last few nights. I had 50kts of wind. It is a winter race with a lot of cold, a lot of frustration. You have to switch off as a human being and switch on as a machine. You have to leave behind a feeling race because sometimes it is so frightening and frustrating and you are tired and cold, if you let your feelings get to you, it is endless. In bad conditions, those that you cannot imagine, it feels endless. All together it is a very, very tough race. Sometimes I was thinking about the front runners making 30kts speeds and 22kts average and thought what is the difference between their boat and my boat, I made the same fight but I think my boat is slower.”

His one regret is that even though he loves his boat, he wishes he had designed it as a faster more aggressive machine: “I have to share with you that I was 62 when I designed this boat. By that I mean with all the people who helped when I say me, but I was thinking of a 62 year old man. I built a boat for that. I love my boat and she is fantastic. It is easily able to make less than 90 days. But I was sailing like I was 40 year old but I could not make the speeds. It was frustrating not to be able to do the speeds I wanted to do. In spite of that my speed record was 434 miles in a day. If I would do it again I would build a flying machine. I would like to do a faster boat. It is a race for machines with machines, it is not a human race. Sometimes you do switch the modes to human modes. I was in a good relationship with Kojiro (Shiraishi of Spirit of Yukoh) and when Koji lost his mast I told Koji I took the Spirit of Yukoh with me. Yukoh was a friend of mine. We had a similar personality. Koji was very important to me and so also with Stéphane Le Diraison. He was faster than me but sometimes I could get back at him by tactics and so when he lost the mast it was a bad moment for me.”

His darkest moment did not last long, his conclusion that in the end you must respect the sea an nature: “I always trusted my boat. Always. But once I lost control and was shouting, frustrated. I was out in the cockpit and screaming at God. I was shouting ‘Do What You Want, but I Will Go Home to my Family. Do What You Want….’ It was an interesting moment because one hour later I had cooled down and I thought ‘What a stupid guy I am. Why am I upset? This nature. This is what it is like here. In my mind I never once thought I would not come back. I always thought the finish line is there and I will get there. I am proud of my boat and my mast. I finished the race and I was able to concentrate on the race. I am proud of my race from a meteo point of view.”

And although he considers his Vendée Globe is over as a competitor he would still like to contribute his thoughts and experience in the future: “I spent so much time thinking about a new boat, drawings and points to memorise, and so I have a complete new boat in my head. I have a vision of how to do it and what to do. I would be very happy to build it for someone, but not for me. The Vendée Globe is forever a love for me. But the time is gone. I must be realistic. I must know the time is gone. In four years time it will not be me. I would love to sail one of these new machines like a machine. But it is not in my life now. It is not me anymore. My future is with my family and with my grandchildren. The Vendée Globe is a love. If anybody wants my help I am here. I don’t want a trophy for the oldest man in the Vendée Globe, that is not what it is about. In this Vendée Globe there were four skippers over 60. But I would say that if you are racing, not just travelling, doing the race, this is a professional race, I don’t have a place in this race anymore.”

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