A world tour “upside down” to promote the circular economy


The weather window has closed. They were supposed to hoist the sails last weekend, but Romain Pilliard and Alex Pella will finally celebrate Christmas on land. The two sailors had to wait in Lorient for Éole to be in a better position to tackle their round-the-world trip “upside down”, against the prevailing winds and currents. Patience first and foremost, then. But they know it: it is better not to be in too much of a hurry to embark on such an adventure.

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Because this circumnavigation is a much longer journey than the Jules-Verne trophy that the Ultimate Giants have been fighting over in recent years. The Formula 1 of the seas fly above the waves and complete the affair in just over forty days. In the other direction, from east to west, the journey is much more trying.

Only five sailors made it to the end. The record still belongs to Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who spent 122 days alone on his monohull Adrien in 2004. Since then, attempts have been rare. The last, piloted by Yves Le Blevec in 2017, ended with the capsizing of his trimaran off Cape Horn.

A multihull built for adventure

No multihull has yet taken up the challenge. Romain Pilliard’s is “Really cut out to do it”, assures the skipper. A boat “Well born”, which is not for nothing in the business of the browser. The trimaran is indeed the old Castorama on which the Englishwoman Ellen MacArthur had taken the record for the “normal” round the world solo in 2005 (in seventy-one days, at the time). A 23-meter machine designed to go fast, but safely for a woman alone in control.

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The boat was docked in Brest, in May 2016, when Romain Pilliard bought it. “It was molding, in very bad condition, all the fucking electronics, says the sailor. I wanted to give it a second life. As I was already very sensitive to the issue of the circular economy, I set up the project around this idea: to rearm it with materials that are as recycled as possible. “

It’s a puzzle, but Romain Pilliard sticks to it. When he engages his mount so refreshed and baptized Use It Again on the Route du Rhum 2018, we look at him with round eyes. “This speech on the need for a new sobriety was not quite in tune with the times, he recalls. I proposed something other than the arms race, always faster and more expensive. And I believe it is more relevant than ever. “

A family and responsible project

Romain Pilliard in any case finished the race, fourth out of six in the category of multihulls of 60 feet and over, two of the Ultimate favorites having given up after a breakage. “This confirmed the reliability and robustness of this boat to me, and made me want to go further, he insists. The Upside Down Tour project was essential because it is in perfect harmony with what I am defending, a different message. “ Romain Pilliard is not going to be a daredevil either. At 46, he has certainly traveled, with two races in the Figaro to his credit in the early 2000s and a few ocean crossings, but without experience of round the world. “I have a wife and three children, and I could not see myself tempting the devil alone”, he smiles.

He will therefore be accompanied, and not by just anyone. The Spaniard Alex Pella, 49, takes on his heavy oceanic baggage: a victory in the Route du Rhum 2014 in a monohull, another in the Jacques-Vabre transatlantic in 2017 in a Multi50, and the same year a participation in the Jules-Verne trophy. Francis Joyon record. He did not take the ear to get on board, and join a rather family business. Resourceful mode is also the key word for a project with a tight budget, around € 500,000. It is coordinated by Romain Pilliard’s wife, and also brings Christian Dumard, reference router (read opposite). Everyone is in phase to live “A beautiful human experience” more than three months.

Because it is well on a navigation of 100 to 110 days that the tandem expects. Without making an obsession with a possible record. In duplicate, it does not exist. So the first objective is to get back safely. “What I dread the most is the passage of Cape Horn, concludes Romain Pilliard. Upside down, there is nothing trivial about it. Many have broken their teeth there. It should also be remembered, at a time when certain sporting adventures are too often trivialized. “

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Router, this strategic partner

Vendée Globe meteorologist, former crewed navigator in the 1990s, Christian Dumard, 60, is the third thief of the project Use It Again, responsible for routing. “This world tour is very difficult. We are already waiting for the right weather option to leave, because it is a question of not damaging the entry boat. Breakage often happens early. Then, you have to either descend very far south with the risk of encountering floating ice, or go further north, but this lengthens the trip. The big difficulties will be the two caps. The Horn, with very strong currents, which guarantees two or three very difficult days, and the Cape of Good Hope where the westerly winds lift a heavy sea. The whole is a real marathon, with the need to manage stress permanent for a long time. It is an exciting challenge. “

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