The Vendée Globe always affects you in some way. A lot of demands are placed on the body and you are taken to the limit. While Meilhat did not lose any weight during the race, the skipper of SMA has to continue training to get back into the best of shape.
Reshaping the body
Paul Meilhat: “It’s always a bit tough getting going again. The Vendée Globe has left its mark and it takes time to recuperate. I lost some of my muscles in the legs and in places where there are few efforts required when sailing. I have to work on the pelvic muscles with exercises to tone the muscles for example. I am swimming again and to vary the work, I am doing some paddle sessions, which is what I did last week with the Figaro racers. I soon got back into my normal sleep pattern, even if I am still not sleeping that much. I need to keep busy and keep up the pace, even if I feel tired. It is through sport that I will get back in shape.”
At the same time as this physical training, the SMA Course au large team is preparing the winter refit. The 60-foot SMA should arrive in Le Havre by cargo ship around the 17th March. She will then be transported back by road to Port-La-Forêt for a short winter refit. The skipper of SMA has already got his foulies back on and has set up a complete sailing schedule. “I have been sailing with François Gabart on a foiling Diam 24, on a Moth foiler with Nicolas Andrieu and Pierre Le Boucher, two experts in this field and I shall get back out there on a Diam 24. I need to be out on the water. There is a much lighter programme for the IMOCAs at the start of this year, but the idea is to get out there and do some racing to work on the start phase. I need to compete and to work with a crew to gain experience on these boats. Nowadays, the boats are getting faster and faster and any experience on a multihull will be useful on the 60-foot Imoca.”
As well as working on his physical preparation and getting ready for the refit, Meilhat has been sharing his experiences. He has become a member of the IMOCA technical committee, which is working on the new rules for the class, which will apply during the next Vendée Globe. “The idea is to contribute to the collective thought process. We are at a turning point and we need to know if the IMOCA monohulls will fly one day or not.”