Stéphane, what is the latest news about your boat?
"Finally, she is back in the water. That is hugely satisfying and it is a relief to see her moored up in France after everything we have been through.”
Tell us about how you got her back?
"In the end, it was another adventure, which began before getting her in Le Havre. My boat needed an escort; getting her required a big logistical effort. I had to get involved, as I don’t really have a team any more. I had to roll my sleeves up and get a truck and my RIB in Lorient and take them to Le Havre after carrying out a service. The route to Le Havre via Paris was not that easy with a lot of unforeseen things to deal with and we got very little sleep."
"Unloading went quite smoothly. We managed to get her in the water in spite of some hesitation between two operations. We followed the dockers who checked her launch and then we brought the boat to the marina and went through all the administrative paper work. We then carried out all the checks on the engine, batteries, and tried to get rid of all the dirt on the deck (rust, soot, grease,…). During the night, we then headed to Caen, with my RIB being towed for safety reasons."
You motored to Caen to take the boat out of the water?
"It was all very strange when we started the delivery trip: Antoine, who is in charge of the technical stuff, took care of the RIB, while I did the manoeuvres alone on my Imoca. That was all at night and with a thick fog. We were lucky to get fine weather, which allowed us to sail safely without the mast or keel. Just a force 1 and sometimes no wind at all and the sea was like a lake. It was a strange atmosphere with the thick fog, which made it all seem like a commando raid.
We got to Ouistreham late in the night and joined the waiting pontoon. We then went through the locks and headed up the canal with the bridges open and then moored up at the V1D2 yard at around 10 the next morning. Our task was then to unload the boat after her round the world voyage with at least 4 cubic metres of equipment to take off. Once the truck was full, we got the boat ready to be stored in Caen, while we wait to see what lies ahead."
What exactly are you planning to do?
"I am focusing fully on finding partners. When you are a sailor, you have to do lots of different things, but now that my boat is safe in a reliable yard, I am going to push ahead with talks to be there at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre on 5th November. The final goal is to make it all the way around in the 2020 Vendée Globe."
Can you tell us anything else about your boat’s return to France?
"There was one thing I remember. A very strange scene in a lock in the fog, when some fishermen, who don’t usually pay attention to passing yachtsmen, asked if they could visit my boat. It was a nice chat between sailors at dawn, which was surprising and an enriching experience. Once again another human adventure, which is at the heart of the Vendée Globe."