October 5, 2022
Photos: Richard Mardens
In Toronto last week, Scott Shawyer launched Canada Ocean Racing, a new offshore sailing team. Backed by renowned British sailor Alex Thomson and supported by BC-based Mustang Survival, Shawyer’s campaign aims to lead and inspire the development of offshore sailing in Canada. A core team of Canadian sailors will manage the day-to-day running of the yacht’s technical performance while the team embarks on a rigorous schedule of offshore training and race preparation. Shawyer and the Canada Ocean Racing team have recently begun training as they prepare to compete in the IMOCA Globe Series, a series of offshore races including solo and double-handed transatlantic crossings, leading to the pinnacle event, the Vendée Globe in 2028.
From youth engagement programs with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Foundation to gender equity and inclusion opportunities with The Magenta Project, the Canada Ocean Racing team will encourage the next generation to choose their own adventure and create a pathway for future athletes, helping them to build the necessary pathways and networks in performance sailing.
From Toronto, Shawyer and crew head to Montreal and Halifax for a further launch event prior to crossing to Portugal for training.
Left: Scott Schawyer (l) with Alex Thomson / Right: Scott Shawyer
Apart from Benoit Parnaudeau, a Canadian-born French sailor, only two Canadians have attempted this gruelling race. In 2008, Derek Hatfield became the first Canadian competitor in the Vendee Globe, but was forced to pull out when a large wave broke two of the mast spreaders on his new Open 60-class boat. Gerry Roufs disappeared at sea in his boat, Groupe LG 2 in January 1997, in the South Pacific Ocean, while taking part in the 1996–1997 edition of the race.
Shawyer, the skipper and president of Canada Ocean Racing, was president and CEO of JMP Solutions for the past 25 years, an industrial technology company with 15 business units located in Canada and the United States. A lifelong sailor, adventurer, and athlete, Scott has trekked to the North Pole raising over five hundred thousand dollars for various charities and as an accomplished downhill ski racer is a member of the Canadian Masters Alpine Team.
Shawyer counts Thomson as mentor and is ready for a three-month challenge of very confined quarters, limited sleep and space food. The race really is a challenge with staggering workloads singlehanding sails and gear. Thomson, who has done five Vendee Globes, reports downing 6,000 calories a day yet still losing weight. The course is simple, Thomson explains. “You leave Les Sables d’Olonne in France and take a left.”
About the Vendée Globe
The Vendée Globe is widely regarded as the toughest sporting challenge on the planet, one which sees the world’s most accomplished solo sailors push their minds and bodies to the limits onboard 18-meter (60 foot) long state-of-the-art carbon fibre vessels, purpose-built to withstand the savageries of the world’s oceans. Once they have left Vendee, France on the non-stop race, they remain essentially unsupported for the entire time until their return. The fastest completion is currently 74 days. A true showcase of design, technology and on-water aptitude, the round-the-world endeavour has only ever been won by a French sailor.