On February 3, 2021, Clarisse Crémer arrived in Les Sables-d’Olonne completing her first non-stop solo sailing trip around the world, the Vendée Globe, in 87 days, 2 hours and 24 minutes. In twelfth place, of course, but with a stunning time that made her the fastest woman in the history of the race, 7 days better than a certain Ellen MacArthur twenty years earlier. Something to sharpen his desire to start again on the next edition of the race, in 2024.
But before heading back on this extreme circumnavigation, another adventure awaits. The sailor has planned a pregnancy, and informs her sponsor. In early fall 2021, Clarisse Crémer and Banque Populaire officially embark on a new marine campaign. In the spring of 2022, Clarisse Crémer leaves the helm of her boat to Nicolas Lunven, double winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, who must act as interim while she is pregnant.
” I am happy that Banque Populaire supports me and accompanies me in what I live. Combining motherhood and high-level sport is a real challenge and I really want to reconcile the two with the same enthusiasm. I’m satisfied at the moment but I’m already looking forward to getting back out to sea,” then declares the future mother to Figaro.
A long-standing situation
In mid-November 2022, while her companion, skipper Tanguy Le Turquais, was on the ocean, engaged in the Route du Rhum, Clarisse Crémer gave birth to a baby girl. She intends to get back on deck at the start of 2023, with her new boat, the ex-Apivia with which skipper Charlie Dalin finished second in the 2020 Vendée Globe and the last Route du Rhum. Except that mess. The Banque Populaire group informed her on January 27 that she had left the project.
Reacting Thursday February 2 on Instagram, the Parisian said to herself ” shocked “. She regrets the decision of her sponsor who, according to her, does not want to take on the risk of a skipper-mum, and that of the organization of the Vendée Globe, whose new rules almost make it impossible to conduct offshore racing and maternity . In fact, the Clarisse Crémer “case” does not suddenly stir up the pontoons.
To understand, you have to go back to the new rules established in October 2021 by the organization of the Vendée Globe. They are reinforced to guarantee more safety on the race and to limit the number of participants. They were 13 for the very first edition in 1989. The attractiveness of the event is such today that the organization wishes not to exceed 40 starters.
They will be divided between 13 new boats automatically entered (the aim is to encourage innovation), 26 which must accumulate points by participating in competitions in the IMOCA class (18.28 m monohulls), and one last invitation reserved by the organizers completes the selection.
It can be noted that the opinion of the organizers promulgating these rules in 2021 evoked “a process of feminization of ocean racing” by allowing the addition of points for The Ocean Race, a crewed race involving many women. But these rules, by obliging a regularity in running over a long period, obviously do not facilitate the realization of a pregnancy.
To find a solution – modification of the rules or invitation – allowing a commitment of its navigator, Banque Populaire claims to have conducted long negotiations with the organization of the Vendée Globe. In vain. The sponsor considers that Clarisse Crémer “is in a situation today that does not allow him to hope for the number of points necessary to qualify for the Vendée Globe 2024”. And therefore decides to bet on another skipper.
A general lack of anticipation
The organization for its part, in a statement Thursday, February 2 evening, recalls that its rules “were based on discussions and proposals debated and voted on” in general assembly by the IMOCA class, the association which since 1991 has presided over the destiny of this class of boats. “To preserve fairness towards all the suitors”she assures that she cannot “Allow yourself to change the rules”. As for a possible invitation, the organization specifies that it can only be awarded at the end of the selection process.
End of inadmissibility, therefore. Definitive? Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra hastened Thursday evening to intervene with the president of the Vendée Globe, Alain Leboeuf. Who “rrecognizes that the rules of the race must imperatively evolve to allow sailors to live their motherhood serenely »according to the Minister who specifies: “For 2024, Clarisse’s chances are not extinguished ».
But for now, the situation seems inextricable. It reveals the general lack of anticipation in an environment that has long been far from these concerns and that more and more women sailors are jostling, not just sportingly.