Perhaps the clincher, though, is that I could not give, and he could not accept any help, as this would constitute outside assistance – we would be disqualified from the race. There is a saying in England 'the law is an ass'. Perhaps at times like these, it would help if our laws would allow it [to offer assistance]. It just seems so wrong to leave a man behind.
I saw a bunch of comments that had been left on the Vendee Globe site that suggested that Mike should "get a grip" because this is a race and Vincent is the competition. Bad luck for one is good luck for the other. I think this sentiment is certainly one way to go through life but at a deeper level there are two things going on that people who really don't get what competitive sport is about get wrong.
1. There is a deep kinship between competitors. The other guy is there playing the same game as you. You agree at a fundamental level that the project you are engaged in (the race or competition) is a worthwhile pursuit and this is no small matter. At this level these people have devoted their lives to the project and similar pursuits. Without other like minded people - there would be no competition - no forum to become the best you can be at something. The top people in any sport know that they are really competing with themselves more than anything and the presence of the other competitors just enables this journey of self discovery. How could Mike not feel Vincent's sadness? He of all people has the greatest capacity to do so. I say good for him and carry on!
2. They are at sea and there is a sense of being there for each other that is very strong because they are acutely aware of the potentially dangerous situation they are in at all times. This reality can easily get lost on the armchair follower of the race.
Lately I have been trying to get into the spirit of things here at home in my warm and dry house to be able to empathize better with the sailors. I have been eating freeze dried food. It sure is easy to prepare. My kids think it is gross and I agree it is a bit bland but it sure is filling. I also notice that it keeps me regular - maybe a bit more than regular :) I always thought that was just about being at sea but now I know its the food.
If you have not already done so have a look at life aboard an Open 60. Watch as 3x Olympic sailor, Nikola Girke, cooks spaghetti for the boys and shows them how to sail as well. Check out the film Wind Athletes helped make - The O CANADA Project.