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Charles Hedrich to race round world in La Cigare Rouge

French adventurer Charles Hedrich has been named as the skipper of one of the world’s best known ocean racing yachts for the 2010/11 VELUX 5 OCEANS. Hedrich will take the helm of Respectons La Terre, better known in the sailing world as La Cigare Rouge, for the gruelling 30,000-mile singlehanded race round the world.

In the last ten years, Charles Hedrich has forged a career out of extreme sports and is now one of France’s leading adventurers. A former merchant seaman, Army officer and businessman, Hedrich sold his business in 2002 and turned his focus to adventure sports.

Since then, Hedrich has set numerous records in a range of disciplines including sailing, ocean rowing and mountaineering. In 2003, just ten months after passing his motorcycle driving test, Hedrich took part in the Dakar Rally, known as one of the toughest long distance motorsport events in the world, finishing in sixth place in his class. That same year he entered the Calais Round Britain yacht race setting a new record for the Dover to Calais leg, one he held until 2007.

In 2004, Hedrich sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in the Transat race, finishing in 11th place. Later that year Hedrich announced he would compete in the Vendée Globe round the world yacht race but 19 days before the start he set off on a non-stop circumnavigation of his own, finishing in 122 days.

In 2006 Hedrich climbed Mount Everest and in 2007 he set a new world record for an Atlantic crossing in a rowing boat taking 36 days and six hours to row between Dakar in Senegal to Guara Point, Brazil. A year later Hedrich completed a 550km solo expedition in Antarctica and in 2008 he became the first person ever to ski and kayak unassisted from the North Pole to Greenland.

He is an honorary member of the Respectons La Terre Association, a French group set up to promote sustainability through adventure sports, and will race in their name in the VELUX 5 OCEANS.

Respectons La Terre, one of the most proven Eco 60s of all time, was built for the 1992 Vendée Globe race by French VELUX 5 OCEANS legend Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and sailed under the name of Groupe Sofap-Helvim finishing second. One of the pioneering Open 60 yachts, she was painted bright red and was so narrow she earned the nickname Le Cigare Rouge – the red cigar.

The boat did three more Vendée Globes after VDH’s: in 1996 she was skippered by Catherine Chabaud, in 2000 by Joe Seeten and in 2004 by Karen Leibovici. Le Cigare Rouge also provided British sailing heroine Ellen MacArthur’s first experience of sailing an Open 60 when she did a delivery back from the OSTAR with Alan Wynne-Thomas.

The yacht was taken on by the Respectons La Terre Association in 2008 and is now sailed by some of the top sailors in France. In 2009 Hedrich sailed her from the North Pole to the South Pole.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After setting off on October 17 from La Rochelle to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

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