"I have two favourite things to do to unwind. The mountains are a complete change of world, a different universe. And I am on my way back from there. But I also love to get back to my roots, to spend time in the playground of the Arcachon basin where I grew up.” Explains Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline - Artipôle). He says it is always hard to take a break from a job which is a passion, so knowing how much time to go away for is never easy.
"Our job is also our passion, so we spend more time at it than we maybe should. So, cutting the ties completely for a spell allows you to take a step away from the project. But last week while I was in mountains I still had to spend one whole day on the phone communicating with suppliers for the boat, to my partners, the supporters enterprise club that I have. And we are a very small team, we are close and work well, but it means I am at the centre of everything that goes on.”
Romain Attanasio (Pure) has been to the mountains too, taking time away from another layer of stress that he has. "In addition to the technical aspects of the boat preparation, I am still searching for a partner. Even when I am away on vacation, I have trouble switching off. Last week I was in the mountains with Sam and our son, we tried to enjoy it and focus only on ourselves.
Getting the Vendée Globe out of his mind for a short period may be easier as his partner Sam Davies knows the game so well and is in fact, most consider, an outsider for the podium in 2020.
“That said we never really switch off from it, we always drift back to the topic and why would we not, it is our passion and what we work for everyday. And even if we did manage to forget it, Ruben our son has grown up with the race and would always be there reminding us!”
The silence of the snow
For three years, Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) has been taking a break in the mountains in the Buffère refuge in the French Alps. “It’s not just about seeing something different. Each time, I am amazed by the silence, which reigns in the mountains. At sea with the wind and waves, there is always a lot of noise. This means the holiday offers a real break and allows me to get away from it all.” These trips are also an opportunity for the sailor to continue to advance. Cross-country skiing is a good way to continue to push hard and face some difficulties, especially seeing I am not a brilliant skier.” The week at the refuge is also an opportunity to meet other sailors and talk about what they do and any difficulties they have had and how they cope with them. “We try to get a mix of different generations. For example this year, we’ll have Sandrine Bertho, who is working on Actual with Yves Le Blévec and her daughter, Amélie Grassi, who is preparing for the next Mini-Transat.” In these conditions, is it easy to forget about everything else? “Of course, we talk about sailing, but it’s different. I can forget all the technical matters and the paperwork. It’s vital to be able to forget everything whatever the situation. We are in jobs, where there is constant uncertainty. If you can’t put it all to one side for a moment, you feel the stress all the time.”
The same goes for Stéphane Le Diraison(Time for Oceans), whose boat is just coming out of an important refit. “We have done a lot of work to have a competitive boat for the next few races. I really needed to take a break And what better way of doing that than heading off to the mountains with the family? Being able to get away from things is a good way to ensure you keep a clear head. When you work on an IMOCA project, you soon feel that everything is urgent. This type of break allows you to calm down and build up your energy. In the end, that means saving time.”
Holidays..... in Tierra del Fuego
While most sailors like to take their holidays in the mountains, some have gone for more exotic destinations. Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest - Art et Fenêtres) decided to go to Chile with his family during the Christmas holidays. He visited the Atacama Desert, but also went down to the Patagonian shipping channels and visited the lighthouse keeper at Cape Horn. “Visiting the Atacama Desert made me think about the big, open country and the relationship between man and this huge area. I had never been in the desert before, so it was really fascinating. Cape Horn was something for the family to see. I told myself that my children will have a different vision of things, when they see the Vendée Globe sailors rounding the famous rock. And it was really great talking to the lighthouse keeper at the Horn. Personally, I have a deep passion for the Southern Ocean, so visiting Cape Horn was a good way to share that with my family.