'If I go back, what will you do?'

Jean-Pierre Dick - Virbac-Paprec
© JM Liot / DPPI / Virbac-Paprec Sailing Team

On Tuesday after the loss, he revealed part of his inner monologue of whether he could or should continue in his compromised boat: “The competitor and the sailor do not agree,” Dick said. “Should I continue in a degraded state or abandon and go and hide in the Azores.”

Herzog, who died last year, faced perilous decisions when he and Louis Lachenal became the first to climb a peak over 8000m when they summited the Himalayan mountain Annapurna, the 10th-highest mountain in the world in 1950.

On June 3, 1950, Herzog and Lachenal set out for the summit, without extra oxygen, and wearing thin leather boots. As he felt his feet go numb with frostbite, Lachenal initiated one of the most famous exchanges in climbing:

''If I go back,'' he asked Herzog, ''what will you do?''

''I should go on by myself,'' Herzog replied.

Continuing on meant the loss of Lachenal's toes; turning back meant the loss of Herzog's life. ''Then I'll follow you,'' the gallant Lachenal said.

Jean-Pierre Dick can talk on the satphone to others, but in the end he is alone at sea; the competitor and the sailor. How important is it to finish? This is his third Vendée Globe. He made it home first time round in 2004-05, but was forced out with rudder damage in the last race. He started as one of the favourites for this race. He has lost the chance of third place, but fourth and a hero’s welcome in the Les Sables d’Olonne canal pulls him. What is he prepared to risk to cover the 2,000 miles and close the circle?


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