No more slaloms on the pontoons trying to avoid meeting, taking a selfie with a childhood friend. At 10:18 am this Sunday, November 7, his boat must leave the pontoons for the open sea, while waiting for the cannon to fire at 1:27 pm Since winning the last edition of the Jacques-Vabre double-handed Transat and afterwards his arrival at the top of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d’Olonne last January (1), Le Havrais has become the local star.
→ ANALYSIS. Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind
“It’s tiring but fun, especially with the kids. When I was little, I never missed a departure from Jacques-Vabre, I went to school near the docks, my grandparents lived nearby ”, told, a few hours before boarding, the navigator now installed in Brittany.
When the line is cut, media concerns will be far away, because he and Paul Meilhat, his co-skipper (he refutes the term teammate, devaluing according to him) will not have to run out, otherwise they will take five hour penalty, according to a new provision of the regulations. When a finish is sometimes played down to the minute, no navigator takes the risk any more… Even if the game of starting in front, to be where the wind is most favorable, is worth the effort. “History shows that the race is already partly played out of the Channel: those who are in front at this time often remain so”, explains the navigator who will be able to push fully for two days, without or hardly sleeping, his dear “Apivia”.
The importance of calm winds
“In 2019, it was his very first race and we won, and in the Vendée, frankly, he was great, fast in the strong wind and especially in the calm. “ Because the navigator delivers the recipe for victory through a formula whose salt he savor: “You win by going quickly from time to time, but above all by going slowly for as little time as possible”, he smiles. In other words, a race is won first in calm winds, when the boat is dragging just a little less than those of the little comrades. This is how he won the Jacques-Vabre in 2019, negotiating better than the leader of the time, Jérémie Beyou, the “Doldrums of the doldrums”. Translate: the absence of wind in the southern tropical zone.
Winner of the last edition, he is “Fully motivated” for the double. “It’s my race, at home, he emphasizes. I know that there is a very tough competition, but I also know that I will be able to pull hard on the machine that I know perfectly and which will take me to the next objective, the Route du Rhum 2022. (alone). “ Then, his beautiful 18-meter yellow friend will pass into other hands, the sponsor preferring to build him a brand new ship for the Vendée Globe 2023. “The next one will use the same philosophy, but taking advantage of everything we have learned in sailing over the past five years where we have progressed by leaps and bounds. “
Still developed by Mer et Concept, the company of navigator-engineer François Gabart, racing in the Ultim category, the new “Apivia” will remain faithful to the philosophy common to both men: to use the best of technology for the benefit of performance, but also safety and ergonomics: “Apivia was one of the first with a closed cockpit. The idea is to have everything close at hand and to go out only when necessary. It’s less tiring and more productive in terms of performance and alertness. “
→ READ. “My son gave me the gift of joining as a teammate”
Far from the legend of sailors, hair in the wind wavering under the heavy sea, the success of the Imocas, monohulls of 18 m, cannot be denied. “The Ultims multihulls are very impressive boats, magnificent machines, which give an image of sailing in which many sailors or spectators do not find themselves., assures the browser. Imoca is performance and adventure on a human scale. ” The figures prove him right: forty are in the ports and eleven under construction. There will be a lot of people on the Sables d’Olonne quays in November 2023.
→ PODCAST. “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”