Oceans of Hope has arrived in La Rochelle, France, to a great welcome reception from the members of the Association Française de Sclérosés en Plaques (AFSEP) who sounded air horns and cheered as they arrived.
Bright sunshine, blue skies and a brisk north westerly breeze provided champagne sailing conditions for the final run through the Bay of Biscay this morning and the crew anchored off the Ile de Ré to enjoy lunch and a swim before arriving smiling in the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle.
It is a marked difference to the conditions in which they left Portsmouth on Sunday, when the agitated sea state saw several of those on board succumb to seasickness.
“I didn’t know it was possible to throw up that much!” laughed British crew member, Phil Gowers, whose wife, Laura, his two sons and his parents were on the quayside to greet him.
He went on to add, “It has been absolutely brilliant. The highlights included swimming off the Ile de Ré and I helmed the boat from Alderney to Guernsey. Everyone participated and everyone felt they could ask for help because we all understood each other. We were all pushed beyond our perceived capabilities and all came out smiling. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Oceans of Hope will stay in La Rochelle until Monday. Tomorrow morning the Mayor of La Rochelle, Jean-François Fountaine, will visit the yacht and in the afternoon, as part of the programme to create networks between the MS and sailing communities and give people access to sailing, a group of local people with MS will head out on board Oceans of Hope for a couple of hours. They’ll have a unique view of La Rochelle from the water, with landmarks including Le Phare du Bout du Monde (literally, the lighthouse and the end of the world) and the three towers that mark the entrance to the Vieux Port (old port) before returning to the Bassin des Chalutiers and an aperitif on board.