-Ryan, what would you say is the main motivation behind your desire to compete in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe?
My desire to do this race has grown over the past few years I have been racing on the IMOCA circuit. I always followed the race from afar but never thought I would want to go out there myself. As I've progressed I've come to realize its naturally the next step I need to take. I want to test myself against the best sailors in the world and win.
- What does the Vendée Globe represent for you as an American and as a sailing enthusiast?
The Vendee represents the pinnacle of ocean racing; it's a true test of endurance, skill and force of character. As a sailing enthusiast, its all about keeping the boat maintained in perfect condition, making the right navigational decisions and sailing the boat at 110% all the time. As an American, its all about giving 110% of myself and aiming for the top all the time.
- What did you learn from your Barcelona World Race alongside Boris Herrmann? How different do you think it will be sailing solo?
My first trip around the world with Boris taught me a lot about the weather and navigation, as well as reinforcing lessons about how to manage the boat and ourselves onboard. Our complimentary skill sets allowed us to quickly find the limits of the boat and having another set of hands meant we could sail the boat much closer to the edge of control. Sailing solo will be an intense experience but I don't think the most challenging part will be the sailing but more about being alone for such a long time.
- Why did you move to France in 2006?
I had been travelling to Europe regularly to race on the crewed Mediterranean circuit for about 6 years when I was given the opportunity to work with the Veolia program before the Fastnet in 2007. I saw it as my chance to get involved with the IMOCA circuit and I worked as hard as I could to secure my spot first on the technical and then on the sailing team. And I learnt French!
- How much did you learn working for Roland Jourdain?
Bilou's a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He's got a incredible natural feeling for these boats and I learned a huge amount about how to sail IMOCA's from him. He surrounds himself with a very skilled team and the technical preparation of his boats is second to none, so I learned a huge amount there as well.
- Which Vendée Globe skippers do you most admire?
Roland obviously, Loick Peyron is a master of communication... In fact, anyone who has finished the Vendee in racing spirit gets my full respect.
-What sort of image does the race have there today? Why have there been so few American entrants in the history of the race?
The race is not on the radar in the USA, aside from with a core of sailing enthusiasts. There have been very few entrants because the short/single-handed discipline does not exist in the US; our sports culture has historically been geared towards teams, even in sailing. I am aiming to change this. I have witnessed first-hand how the race is followed and enjoyed by the French/ European public and I hope to create the same passion in the USA by putting myself up there with the leaders.
- Have you had any contact with Bruce Schwab or Rich Wilson?
I have met them both briefly but we haven't had the chance to spend much time together. I hope this will change as time goes on.
- If you had the choice, which IMOCA would you choose to race on? And realistically, which boats are you looking at for the Vendée Globe?
Hopefully we can raise sponsorship early enough to compete in the next BWR with an older boat and at the same time, build a new boat for the Vendee Globe. Which second hand boat I consider will depend on when money comes through and which boats are available at that time.
- How high are you raising your sights? A place on the podium?
I finished 5th in the Barcelona World Race with a 7 year old boat (Neutrogena, a Lombard deigned boat from 2004 – editor’s note). With the right partner, a good team and a new boat I want to win it. Americans do not set out to do anything less.