It is rare to see ocean racing sailors twice in the same place so it is not surprising to encounter Mich Desj on consecutive days in Port-La-Forêt, Paris and then out and about on his Z2015 the multihull he has developed as a platform for guests at race starts, which sails as much as uses the engine.
"It's exciting for me to continue developing my catamaran. We will be at the start of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale, we will be on the Tour de France a Voile, so we work with projects like that. And I I think my guests like me to tell them what's going on in a race. It seems that I know one or two things."
Desjoyeaux's life is not all glamour days on the water, he works especially long hours in the offices and in the yards at the race team stable which he first set up in 1999 with Régine Bornens. Now, today, Mer Agitée is one of the benchmark organisations of its type, looking after projects for skippers, race teams and sponsors. They project manage the build, they optimise and refit some of the most successful racing monohulls. Most recently they have been working on SMA and La Mie Câline - Artipôle.
For SMA that has been a 10,000 miles 'service' a check and refit after Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet's second place on the last Transat Jacques-Vabre. looking closely at two or three things. Desjoyeaux notes "The questions were that the boat was due to do the Barcelona World Race next winter and we were looking at the data and files and then the race was canceled. The boat which will have changed colours and sponsors will likely wait for its new colours after the Route du Rhum is finished. Meantime SMA has resumed training in preparation for the Route du Rhum, with the USP that it's the"boat without foils which can win".
This will be the last opportunity for Paul Meilhat to score a big win with this boat, their sponsor SMA having already announced they will stop after the Route du Rhum, but meantimes SMA are proactively helping in the search for a replacement new sponsor.
Mich says:"Paul deserves a new boat. "
The La Mie Câline was baptized
The La Mie Câline - Artipôle is the former Ecover Mike Golding which has three three Vendée Globes to its name and under the management of Mer Agitée was lightened by 500 kilos and equipped with foils. Desjoyeaux said: "We, Mer Agitée, bought the boat after the dismasting (January 1, 2017 off the coast of New Zealand during the Vendée Globe, editor's note). We brought it back to France on the same cargo ship as SMA. Since then, it has changed a bit."
The engineering firm Gurit, which did the structural work in the design and build phase worked with Mer Forte, Desjoyeaux's design office collaborated to ensure Mer Agitée made the most precise and effective changes to the IMOCA.
The replacement rig sees the stepping of deck spreadered wing mast, the integration of foils instead of daggerboards, updating of the steering system by the addition of lifting and interchangeable rudders, and structural work to support the foil loads.
Arnaud Boissière the skipper has updated the ballast and reinstalled the electronics, electricity, hydraulics and deck hardware, with his team from Les Sables. Then last Saturday La Mie Câline Artipôle was baptised on the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d'Olonne, by the programme's godmother French ski racer Tessa Worley and his Vendée godfather Thomas Voeckler.
Mer Agitée and Mer Forte complementary platforms
So in the workshop of Port-la-Forêt is there some room for a new project?
Mich responds, "One would have thought that introduction of foils would generate a clutch of new boats especially since the generation of IMOCA created back 2000 begins to is now affected by the age limit. But also we have to be realistic in that the crazy 2008 edition which generated 18 new boats is far behind us. But the yards are busy so that in itself is good news. "
The Michel Desjoyeaux companies are also engaged in design research and development mainly through Mer Forte, where they work hard to advance the nautical technology. "We are designing and developing boats for Lake Geneva (where many revolutionary concepts have come from, ed) and we look very carefully at what is happening on the America's Cup."
And to sea?
Will you go sailing again? "Hmm, since the sharp end of the bow has been rounded I do not know how a boat works any more." jokes Mich'Desj, "I still want to go sailing but it's not the priority. I came to racing from engineering and design and building, and here I am back to my first love. I have always played on both sides. I do not feel the energy to go for a third Vendée Globe, and I'm not sure that I would get very much pleasure from it. I prefer to help young people in this epic rather than be back for another go". But a chance to race solo on the Figaro, on a new boat, the Figaro Bénéteau 3, which has foils, perhaps? "Ah yes, that's one of the things I could do. Next year, the entire Figaro class will discover this new boat. And in that context, it probable that experience will be a real asset in the quest for the top places."