Published: Friday, 13 February 2015

This year’s Rolex Sailor of the Year, Eric Holden, will be forming Canada’s premier offshore racing team, Canadian Ocean Racing, and campaigning in the IMOCA Ocean Masters races ultimately leading to the Vendée Globe.

Holden will be taking the 60-foot racing yacht, O Canada, and putting her back on the racing circuit.  O Canada, under the command of Holden and his Canadian Ocean Racing team, will enter the highly competitive Open 60 class races — competing against notable teams like Alex Thompson’s Hugo Boss campaign.

Holden is no stranger to competitive offshore racing. Most recently, Holden lead his crew to victory in the world’s longest ocean race, the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race, which is over 40,000 miles long and concluded in July 2014 after an eleven month circumnavigation. With a degree in meteorology and experience serving notable teams such as the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team, Holden used his expertise in weather as a strategic advantage throughout the race.

Canadian Offshore Racing Champions Announce New Campaign

(Photo: Eric Holden celebrating with his former Clipper Race crew members after being awarded the 2014 Rolex Sailor of the Year at the Sail Canada Awards) 

“As the first Canadian Skipper of the Clipper Round the World Race, it was a great honour to have won the race,” says Holden. “But the most powerful achievement was taking a crew of 55 individuals with little to no sailing experience and turning them into a cohesive and winning team.”

Holden along with his past and future crewmate, Morgen Watson, were honoured at the Sail Canada Awards for Rolex Sailor of the Year and the Gerry Roufs trophy, respectively. Watson will accompany Holden to Vancouver for O Canada’s refit and Launch Tour to the east coast of Canada by summer 2015, where they will begin training.

Canadian Offshore Racing Champions Announce New Campaign 1

(Photo: Rolex Sailor of the Year Eric Holden and his Canadian Ocean Racing co-founder Morgen Watson at the Sail Canada Awards)

“Morgen is a young, aspiring offshore racer. While he may have begun his sailing career a little later in life than most, he showed great skill, development and leadership when on the Clipper Race,” Holden says. “It is for those reasons that I chose him as one of my watch leaders on the race and have decided to mentor him and build Canadian Ocean Racing together.”

Holden’s racing career started long before the Clipper Round the World Race, but the win was really the culmination of his skill as an offshore racer and skipper. It is from the Clipper Race success that Holden confidently moves forward with his own ocean racing initiative.

“I am also delighted to hear of Eric’s plans to join up with his Clipper Race crew members Morgen Watson and Meg Reilly to launch a Canadian Ocean Racing team, and I wish them every future success together,” says Sir Robin Knox Johnston, founder of the Clipper Round the World Race.

Officially, Canadian Ocean Racing’s program will begin with a Launch Tour in April 2015, sailing from the west to the east coast of Canada with events in select ports — all culminating at the Toronto Pan Am games in July 2015. The team intend to take on the Ocean Masters race challenge with the Transat Jacques Vabre in November 2015. Canadian Ocean Racing will be supporting Holden in his 2016 Vendée Globe campaign, making Holden only the fourth Canadian in history to enter this world-renowned, solo offshore racing competition.