Swiss racing team manages entry for Southern Ocean sailing race | Polarjournal
Next year, with his 60-foot (about 18 meters long) ocean-going yacht, Oliver Heer and 39 other participants will attempt to cover the approximately 50,000 kilometer route around the world. The main part of the route will take them through the Southern Ocean, where some participants will also collect scientific data. Image: Oliver Heer Ocean Racing

The Vendée Globe is considered one of the most important and legendary sailing races in the world. Skippers will travel solo and without support for about three months and will also cross the Southern Ocean to circumnavigate the globe. Swiss Oliver Heer and his team have now managed to officially get on the list of participants.

As of last Friday, it is official that Oliver Heer is formally recognized as a participant for the prestigious sailing race around the world. He had fulfilled all qualification criteria and is thus approved for the race, which is scheduled to start on November 10, 2024, according to the press release of his racing team “Oliver Heer Ocean Racing”. Thus, the first Swiss-German-speaking sailing team will participate in the next edition of the event known as the “Everest of the seas”. Here, Oliver Heer is considered a “rookie”, as it will be the first participation for him. His goal: to sail around the boundaries of the Antarctic in 2024 to reach the finish line and to be the first to do so in 2028.

For Oliver Heer and his team established in 2022, headed by wife Theresa Heer, the affirmation is a dream come true. “This is a huge milestone for me and the whole team. Competing in the Vendee Globe has been my dream since I was a child and to be the first Swiss-German representative will be a real honour,” says the 35-year-old skipper.

Participating in the race is one highlight, the fact that Oliver Heer will also be contributing to scientific research in the process is another, equally important point for him. For during the race, brand new sophisticated measuring instruments on board the Gitana80 sailing yacht will record various oceanographic and meteorological data in order to support research on the current state of the ocean, especially in the Southern Ocean. To this end, the team has established a collaboration with researchers from the ETH Zurich and the Universities of Bern and Lausanne, as we previously reported.

So 18 long months of hard work have led to this first highlight. After all, there are only a total of 40 starting places available for the race and Oliver is one of 43 participants on the list. Some of the registered boats can still withdraw. But in case that doesn’t happen, only the skippers with the highest number of qualifying kilometers will be admitted, as the race team states. And the first qualifying races are over, but the OHOR team still needs to make sure they don’t fall behind. Therefore, more kilometers have to be raced to make sure they do stay atop the list.

We are doing all we can to make this a successful and sustainable campaign with the resources we have available to us

Theresa Heer, Head of Operations Oliver Heer Ocean Racing

With each regatta, the team gains experience and confidence, but also generates costs due to the wear and tear of the yacht which, although in perfect shape, is also already 16 years old. In addition, there are costs for legal, financial and administrative matters. marketing, sponsoring, communications and human resources. “We are so proud of Ollie and the team and are extremely grateful for the generous support of our Swiss partners so far,” says Operations Manager Theresa Heer. “We are doing all we can to make this a successful and sustainable campaign with the resources we have available to us. We are now earnestly seeking a Title Partner who can help us get to the start and over the finish line of the 2024 Vendee Globe.”

Nevertheless, the team is confident that by November 10, 2024, they will have circumnavigated all non-Nautical challenges and Oliver and the racing yacht can focus on a voyage that will take them to the frontiers of the Antarctic.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link to the website of Oliver Heer Ocean Racing

Link to the Vendée Globe 2024 website

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