Jingkun Xu ‘Jackie’ completes the course in 31st place!
Chinese skipper Jingkun Xu ‘Jackie’ (Singchain Team Haikou) crossed the finish line of the Retour à La Base this Wednesday at 12 p.m. 24. His elapsed time for the 3,500 miles solo course from Martinique to Lorient is 13 days, 19 hours, 24 minutes and 51 seconds.
In his quest to become the first ever Chinese skipper to finish the Vendée Globe today he has now finished his second essential solo IMOCA race - after last year’s Route du Rhum – and so is well on course in terms of qualification as well as accumulating more and more solo experience. After losing part of his left arm, above the elbow, at the age of 12 Jackie took an option to pursue sailing as a sport and took it to Paralympic world championship level, becoming a sailing instructor and pursuing oceanic adventures. He raced the Mini-Transat (2015) and sailed around the world in a catamaran (2017). He is one of the most popular sailing instructors in China and he is followed by tens of thousands of fans in his native country.
After finishing 29th into Guadeloupe on last year’s Route du Rhum, declaring on the dock ‘this is just the beginning’ Jackie has just sailed the Transat Jacques Vabre with the very experience Mike Golding finishing 33rd. And on the Retour à La Base he has worked diligently and is rewarded as “everything went well even if it is impossible to avoid certain breakdowns or damage”.
“Everything is more striking at sea”
Among his many problems, there were his worn sails, which he had to use cautiously, the keel bolts that kept moving – “I had to screw them back up every hour” – and the reef attachment that was ripped off. These problems were however dealt with, which pleased Jingkun Xu. “For a young team like ours with such little experience, there are bound to be problems, but we are working hard to improve things.” Each time he had a problem, the skipper took notes. “I have a long list of equipment that needs to be improved, better prepared or renewed.” Soon, he will be looking ahead to next year. “I can see how hard it is to complete the Vendée Globe, so I want to prepare for it as well as possible. We’ll shortly be getting back to work.”
In spite of all the work that lies ahead, the Chinese skipper still remembers a lot of things from the Retour à La Base. “Everything we see that is nice or not so nice is much more striking at sea than ashore,” he explained. “When it is impossible to rest and your body aches, I tell myself that it is fantastic to be alive.”
Facing a strange UFO
The skipper added, “There are always amazing encounters at sea, experiences which are gifted to ocean racing sailors. In the dark of the night, I noticed a very strange flying object not far from me. In the beginning, I thought it was a boat, but then I saw that it was above the surface of the sea. It can’t have been a star, as it was so bright, was not moving and appeared to be floating there. As the skies clouded over, the object disappeared and will remain a mystery.” Jackie can now appreciate life ashore, until the next time. “Sailing helped me understand what makes us happy: a stable bed, warmth, being dry and some hot food that doesn’t get upset all over the place. Sailing alone makes me love human beings even more. Each time I step ashore, I find people really are more lovable.”
His first reactions
“In general, it all went well and as planned. You always have pressure on you aboard an IMOCA and despite my caution, it is impossible to avoid damage and other problems. Seeing as how I was using well used, older sails, I had to be particularly cautious finding the balance between speed and safety. We are a new team which does not have much experience. Thanks to this type of race, we gain more experience and will improve in the future."
His race in numbers
Finish time: 12 h 24 min 51 sec
Race time: 13 days 19 hrs 24 mins 51 sec
Miles sailed: 4061,66 miles
Real average speed: 12,26 knots
Average speed on the Great Circle route: 10,55 knots