• JOURNEY TO DATE

    “I’ve spent a lifetime following my passions, having left school to join a fledgling Ukrainian team that was determined to leave the iron curtain and compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race. It was to be my baptism into ocean racing from which I found myself”


    “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
    Oscar Wilde

MUTINY WITH CHANNEL 4

“How different it would be to the final few days of the voyage as we neared Timor. Becalmed, just a few hundred miles from Kupang where Bligh eventually made landfall. Our bodies ravaged by the sun resembled nothing more than skeletons. We’d each loss between 3-4 stone after surviving on just 400 calories each day, but the real killer was water. As we drifted slowly towards Timor, our water barrels had all but run dry. We’d been surviving on less than half a litre each per day over the previous week as we hoped for a change in the wind conditions that would carry us to Timor. The high pressure system showed little sign of abating and eventually we would require an intervention from our support boat. It felt like a failure, we’d got so close and yet, without water we would not have survived the ordeal.”

“All of Bligh’s men survived to reach Timor, but within weeks most had died from malnutrition. As we pulled up onto the beach, just a hundred miles to the east of Kupang we realised just how incredible Bligh’s feat of navigation and survival had been. Perhaps we knew better than most and for us Bligh was certainly our hero.”

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ROUTE DU RHUM AND GC32 TOUR WITH CATPHONES

In the spring of 2014, Conrad reached agreement with Bullitt Group to launch a new sailing campaign under the colours of their rugged smartphone, Catphone. The campaign would start with the Route du Rhum, France’s premier single-handed transatlantic race. With nearly 2 million people visiting the start in St. Malo and a live televised start, it was the perfect place to promote their latest rugged sailing device. Sadly, Conrad dismasted whilst in 12th position. 

LA SOLITAIRE DU FIGARO WITH DMS

La Solitaire du Figaro is arguably one of the toughest sailing events for solo sailors and has become the proving pathway for aspiring sailors looking to compete in the Vendee Globe. What makes it difficult is the competition. It is the unofficial World Championships for solo sailors and therefore attracts the best in the world. The punishing 2000 mile course takes in some of the most challenging navigational passages which leaves the sailors unable to sleep for extended periods. Each leg lasts between 4-5 days, with the sailors averaging just a few hours rest – its brutal. Each sailor has to be mentally tough to withstand the sleep deprivation whilst racing flat for over a month. The 2011 race saw a number of British sailors take on the challenge.

In 2011, Conrad teamed up with DMS to promote a new campaign aimed at reducing packaging waste in the music industry. DMS is one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of DVD and Vinyl and wanted to encourage the Industry to eliminate plastic packaging. Musto and Maui Jim supported the campaign.

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ARCHIPELAGO RAID WITH DMS

The Archipelago Raid, brings together many of the world’s top sailors to compete over five consecutive days in an endurance raid that test stamina, navigation and extreme fatigue. Many who take part don’t complete the event. The race is called the 100,000 island race and the course is set amongst the islands where the route is littered with submerged rocks and dangerous shallows. It’s a race that benefits the brave and the bold; there are great opportunities for cutting navigational corners, but you do so at extreme risk. Hitting a rock at 15 knots with both of you out on the trapeze wire can be lethal for both sailors and the boat.

At the 2007 event, Conrad and Ryan Crawford finished 13th out of 30 teams, a great result given that this was the first time they had sailed the boat together. They learnt a lot, broke a lot of kit but managed to make it around the course just behind the lead group. Six months later and the itch to do it again started to appear. Conrad still had the boat and with the knowledge of the first event behind them they trained harder and decided to give it a go. This time, Ryan navigated and they took less food and spares to keep the boat light and fast. The first few days, the kept up with the lead group and occasionally started to lead some of the checkpoints. Leading is more difficult in the Raid, because everyone else follows and waits for you to make a mistake. They made plenty and on one occasion took the fleet 6 miles down a short cut only to find a cable across the water! Hard work when you have been sailing for over 12 hours without a break and your hungry and in need of sleep. The preparation had paid off and Conrad and Ryan finished fourth, winning the last day and sustaining no damage to the boat. 

EXTREME 40 WITH MOTOROLA

The Extreme Sailing Series was founded by Olympic silver medallist, Mitch Booth and “Herbie” Derksen who created the Extreme 40 multihull. The duo had managed to persuade Volvo to back the venture and were looking for five teams to join the circuit. Conrad had secured some budget from Motorola that was for the Transat Jacques Vabre, but persuaded the telecoms company to back his plans to enter the circuit on the basis that he would finance the construction costs. With the boat secure and the team in place, the circuit delivered some brilliant sailing and a new future for our sport was born. The five original sponsors, Motorola, Tommy Hilfiger, Basilica, Volvo and Holmatro, together with Tornado Sports launched a class that changed the way sailing is viewed as a sport.

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VENDEE GLOBE WITH MOTOROLA

After 25 days at sea, Conrad was lying in 7th place in a fleet of 20 and just about to enter the cold, desolate waters of the Southern Ocean when he hit a submerged object at speed. Flung across the cabin, his first thoughts where that he was sinking. HELLOMOTO withstood the impact, but the a rudder did not. Everyone thought that Conrad’s race was over as he limped towards Cape Town. No-one had ever successfully changed a rudder at sea without assistance and gone on to complete the race.

Conrad arrived in Cape Town and anchoring off a small bay near Simon’s Town set about changing the broken rudder. Diving repeatedly under the hull in the full glare of the world’s media, he managed to replace the rudder and rejoin the race. The euphoria he felt at completing the repair was swiftly replaced by apprehension when he realised that he would now be entering the Southern Ocean, in last place and nearly 4000 miles behind the leaders.

Conrad dug deep; he set off from Cape Town knowing that his only chance of safety lay 500 miles ahead of him. He set himself a target of catching the next boat by Christmas and stayed motivated by maintaining his speed and distance with the leaders. The Southern Ocean was brutal, several of Conrad’s competitors were in trouble in mountainous seas and one yacht had smashed into an iceberg, but Conrad was flying.

Conrad rounded Cape Horn, in 9th place having closed the distance to the leaders by a remarkable two hundred miles. He attacked the South Atlantic taking a day off the record from Cape Horn to the equator. With 3000 miles left to the finish, HELLOMOTO’s own hydraulic rams that control the three tonne keel dramatically failed leaving the boat dangerously unstable. Conrad secured the keel as best he could with a series of lashings and decided to continue racing towards the finish line. Sleeping with his emergency grab bag and living with the constant fear that his own keel would come away from the yacht, Conrad continued up the Atlantic crossing the finish line in 7th place, after 104 days at sea to a hero’s welcome.

THE TRANSAT WITH MOTOROLA

The race was to be a tough one, two boats dismasted, one capsized after suffering keel failure and several skippers forced to turn back to Plymouth. Conrad’s options were limited, failure to finish would result in no qualification for the Vendée Globe. The damage to the fleet had taken it’s toll and on the 10th day, Conrad found himself in 4th place, just a hundred metres from his great friend and rival, Australian Nick Maloney. Both skippers, were exhausted and later Conrad would fall into a deep sleep and dreamt that his project manager, Joff Brown was safely at the helm. He awoke some 2 hours later with the boat screaming south at 25 knots with the big code 5 still up. Conrad rushed onto deck, naked and still half asleep and wrestled to get the monster sail down, before it pulled the mast down.  No damage done, but 40 miles in the wrong direction put him south of the Gulf Stream and blew his chance of a top four finish. Nonetheless, finishing the race in 5th place ensured he had qualified for the coveted Vendée Globe.

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BT GLOBAL CHALLENGE WITH LG

After three years studying Ocean Science and Meteorology at the University of Plymouth, the 26 year old, Conrad applied for a place on Sir Chay Blyth’s BT Global Challenge as a Race Skipper. The selection programme lasted a year with just 12 skipper places being selected from over 180 applicants. The selection programme was intense with the final applicants whittled down to 19, they each spent a week with one of the UK’s top management training organisations learning how to lead, motivate, gain commitment, deliver  inspiring presentations and deal with conflict. Conrad was selected and at the London International Boat show on the 8th January 2000, was handed a team made up of 30 crew volunteers (CV) who had signed up to the challenge. The CV’s came from all walks of life, the youngest, a student was just 18 and the oldest a company director, was 60. Conrad had just 5 weeks to train, select and mould them into a winning team before undertaking one of the world’s toughest round the world races; a 30,000 mile race in identical steel 72ft yachts sailing westabout against the prevailing winds and currents.

Conrad and his team dominated the race from start to finish, winning four out of seven legs of the race and a further two podium finishes. They set a new record from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope and picked up two media awards during the race.  At just 28 years of age, Conrad became the youngest winning skipper in the history of the race. He attributes this success to the winning attitude cultivated within the team, the driving philosophies being “winning is infectious” and “self-belief is everything.”

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE

At the age of 19, Conrad joined the Ukrainian W60 team, Odessa for the Whitbread Round the World Race. An incredible project that had struggled out of the old eastern block during the early 90’s and arrived without funding to the start line of this epic round the world race. Conrad, who had spent a few years training with the British Youth Challenge Team, joined Odessa in Punte Del Este, Uruguay to set sail around the world.  The team was made up of 4 Russians sailors, an Australian, a Kiwi, an Irishman and Conrad.

This was to be Conrad’s baptism into ocean racing, and as one of the youngest sailors in the race the experience left him hungry for more. During their remarkable circumnavigation, they were to experience all manner of challenges, and the dynamics of the team often resulted in major friction onboard the boat. Conrad stuck with it and completed the race after 9 months, arriving into Southampton at the age of 21 with a Whitbread under his belt. The experience taught him the values of people, leadership and teamwork and whilst this team had at times bickered and fought their way around the world, Conrad was hooked and knew that one day he would lead his own team around the world.