A sea of blue swept across the palace gates at 11:30 Tuesday morning, as a few dozen cyclists arrived on the last leg of the London to Monaco Cycle for charity, which started out on Sunday, September 18. As most of the riders are involved in the yachting industry, the arrival coincides with the launch of the Monaco Yacht Show Wednesday.
Cheers, applause and red and blue pom-poms greeted the riders, only 22 of whom completed the entire 1,500 km, while others joined in for chapters, or in the case of F1’s Eddie Jordan, pedalled the last leg.
The cycle initiative comes from Winch Design, an award-winning architect company and long-time partner of the Blue Marine Foundation, to mark the company’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, Winch flew their entire staff of 74, although some arrived Tuesday via bicycle, from London to Monaco, and hosted a private dinner for the company at Les Deux Frères in neighbouring Roquebrune before the team returned back to the office the following day. “We left a temp in the office to answer the phones, ‘Someone will call you back tomorrow’,” Andrew Winch jokingly told Monaco Life. (One Winch employee talked about the excellent office environment and how Winch pays for the staff to eat lunch together everyday at the pub).
Blue Marine Foundation’s Head of Partnerships, Sara-Jane Skinner, who bought a bike only three months before departure date, was the only non-pro female to complete the 10-day trek. “It was incredible. We all share a common passion to save the sea and doing this massive physical goal together is parallel to the challenge that we face in marine preservation.”
HSH Prince Albert, along with his right-hand environmental man, CEO and Vice-President of the Prince Albert Foundation, HE Bernard Fautrier, were on hand to welcome all 50 cyclists. Prince Albert addressed the crowd light-heartedly, “You must have sore legs, sore backs and sore …” before adding, “Thank you for your achievements and, above all, for our oceans and seas that really do need all of our attention.”
Blue Marine Foundation’s Chris Gorell Barnes, along with co-founder George Duffield, and CEO Clare Brook, thanked Prince Albert for being “a marine conservation visionary” and his support “to save the most important resource our planet has, our beautiful oceans” and then presented the prince with a framed gift.
Chris and George created the Blue Marine Foundation in 2011. “Prince Albert showed our 2010 documentary on overfishing called ‘The End of the Line’ in Monaco. After this exposé, we decided to start a Foundation that would bring together marine preservation and the yachting community. Prince Albert quickly became the patron Saint of the Blue Marine Yachting Club and Winch Design has supported us from the beginning,” Chris told Monaco Life.
Of course, the bond that is formed from the camaraderie of an endurance challenge can always be measured by the best nickname. In the case of the London to Monaco Cycle, jovial hollers calling “Swizzle stick”, given to a cyclist surnamed Swizzle (the rest can be presumed), could be heard across the palace courtyard.
To date, £200,000 has been raised towards two projects targeting ocean protection, in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily and the remote island of Ascension in the tropical Atlantic. Donations can still be made at JustGiving.