Before retiring on 17th December 700 miles off the coast of Australia, Stéphane Le Diraison had been having a great race, and was in tenth position, when his mast failed. Le Diraison made for Melbourne under jury rig and was pleased to bring his boat safely to port, although frustrated that he was unable to complete his voyage around the world. Very soon after that, he explained that he wanted to do better in 2020. Eight months after dismasting, things are looking brighter for Stéphane Le Diraison, who is preparing to return to racing.
Getting his current boat back in shape and starting work on a new IMOCA
© TEAM STEPHANE LE DIRAISONThe first leg onvolves finding a second-hand mast to get his 2007 Finot-Conq design back in service. Stéphane Le Diraison: “Since she returned to France aboard a cargo vessel, my boat has been in the shed in Caen. I decided to do that while working out what to do about the project. I had a few serious ideas about getting a mast, but it never worked out for several reasons, which sometimes were not that clear... I am looking for a replacement mast. I have the budget to buy the rig, but I can’t find any for sale, which is unusual.” Stéphane hopes to refit his IMOCA in the autumn and get her back in the water in early 2018.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Le Diraison is working hard to convince potential partners to join him (La Compagnie du Lit cannot continue to offer their support given the lofty ambitions the skipper now has). “My goal is to take part in the 2018 Route du Rhum on my faithful old boat, but I want to get a new one going for the 2020 Vendée Globe,” added Stéphane Le Diraison. “This autumn, I’m going to try to conclude the talks currently underway with a serious partner, who is very interested in my new project and my dual background as an engineer and sailor. We have been through the first part of the discussions and are now working on the details of the budget, schedules and organisation… It looks like we are on the right track. If things work out, we’ll go for a new IMOCA, as there aren’t many good boats up for sale. This is of course a thrilling prospect for me, a dream! But until the partnership is signed, we need to remain cautious. I’m not getting too worked up just yet and am remaining patient.”
I have greater ambitions, as I am not the man I was
© Olivier Bourbon / M&MIf he manages to sign this partnership, Stéphane Le Diraison will return to the Vendée Globe better equipped than for his first attempt with a top notch IMOCA and will be better prepared. “I was pleased about my first attempt. I did well, in spite of not having much experience of IMOCAs and not having much time to prepare,” explained Stéphane. “I have higher ambitions for the 2020 Vendée Globe, as I’m not the man I was: I sailed 22,000 miles on my IMOCA, including 15,000 miles of racing. I understood how these boats work, how to communicate around the project. I want to go there without limiting myself and with experienced people alongside me. My goal will be to be out there in front.”
Le Diraison is definitely one to watch and we look forward to hearing more news shortly…
Olivier Bourbon / M&M