Armel Le Cléach has for four years turned to the ultimate adventure but the last winner of the event on Banque Populaire (74 days, 3h35) will follow this edition of the Vendée Globe which will start this Sunday in Sables d’Olonne with interest. Because even on land, the solo round-the-world tour is a dream.
Is the Vendée Globe a race apart in the world of sailing?
ARMEL LE CLÉAC’H. A solo race around the world, without stopovers and without assistance. It opens the way to a lot of questions, unknowns and even fantasies. The race has become legendary over the years. And despite the knowledge that we now have of the course, despite the fact that we know better how to apprehend the weather, there remains a great deal of mystery. We know the conditions we will have during the first ten days and then we dive into the unknown.
It is also an event to which the general public adheres …
Yes, because in the field of video we have also made great progress. The sailors send images that allow people to share their adventures, their daily life on board. We can only adhere to the stories that these adventurers live. To go alone, far away on a boat is something very impressive for many people. A bit like the astronauts who go to the moon. After my victory in 2017, I received touching messages from people telling me that they were inspired by my perseverance on board, my determination to take an important step in their life. We don’t really realize that we have so many people traveling, it’s completely incredible.
Do you share adventures but what do you actually experience during a world tour?
Through the sounds and images sent from the ship, sailors actually transcribe only part of what they go through. Not that we hide things, but it’s impossible to tell what we’re going through, it’s so intense. We go through all the emotions. There is stress, fatigue, great moments of joy. Sometimes for trivial things. I remember making small repairs to the boat and feeling like I had achieved a fantastic feat. I can see myself screaming with joy on the boat! The craziest thing is that we get used to this little daily routine that sets in, the phases of maneuvers, weather, sleep. And inevitably, things are happening that we had not planned.
What is the most delicate part of the course?
The passage in the southern seas where the depressions are linked. We are far from everything, it is extremely scary and some sailors sometimes have trouble getting used to it in the first days.
What are we looking for in the Vendée Globe?
What makes the DNA of the Vendée Globe is that there are several approaches, everyone comes to find what they want. Some sailors come for the competition, to go as quickly as possible around the world and why not win. Others for the adventure and the emotion it provides. My first Vendée Globe was initiatory, the last was 90% sport, 10% adventure. But let’s face it, finishing the Vendée Globe is already an achievement in itself.
The arrival of the foils this year promises an even crazier race than usual …
We had seen them on five or six boats four years ago but since the foils are almost twice as large, the boats have gained in speed. On paper, it is possible that this Vendée Globe will be played out in less than 74 days and even go below the 70-day mark. The difficulty will be to manage to lead these physically and mentally demanding boats around the world without breaking. It’s a long Vendée Globe and we have to hold out until January.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr