That he has such an enviable recent track record, winning key events but still cannot find enough backing illustrates how hard it is to convince a sponsor to commit to sponsoring a solo racer on the Vendée Globe. Richomme is a top level sailor armed with a high level of technical knowledge as well as being a qualified naval architect and coach, but he cannot seem to find the funding to allow him to the legendary solo round the world race. So, rather than try and live on the knife edge he has chosen to stay back and look forwards to the 2024 race.
Vendée Globe: Yoann, have you just announced that you are withdrawing from the selection process for the 2020 Vendée Globe?
Yoann Richomme: Yes, it's a considered decision I don’t take lightly. I have been thinking this over for some time. Although I wanted to do everything ensure I could be present at the start of this 2020 there comes a time when you have to know you have to move on. I just did not want to compromise and try and go with a poorly put together project. I need to feed on the competitive instincts and feel I am in with a chance, to be in the match. To go around for the adventure would not satisfy me.
VG: Can we recap a bit of the history behind your attempts?
YR: The idea really started in 2016 after my commitment as a MACIF supported skipper ended. I had already won the Solitaire du Figaro and I felt ready for a more ambitious project. So I made contact with the owner of Vivo a Beira (ex Sill and Véolia of Roland Jourdain then the Savéol of Sam Davies). We started working together for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017. At the end of that race I was able to identify the necessary updates to make this boat a powerful machine within the fleet of non-foilers . I had an idea of the budget and I started my search for partners to bring the project to a decent level. n.
VG: And things are more complicated than expected ...
YR: In this area, there is always an element luck. While looking to finance the Vendée Globe project, I decided to continue on building my reputation, my racing record. On that side I don’t feel I could have done more….mission accomplished, a victory in the Route du Rhum in Class40 in 2018, then a second victory in the Solitaire du Figaro 2019.
VG: And despite these results nothing clicked?
YR: It's more complex. My performances allowed me to generate a lot of contacts, to meet several potentially interested partners. But the selection system still raised a lot of uncertainties. It is complicated to say to a possible sponsor that securing an entry might not be until July 2020. By then you have already committed nearly 80% of the budget. I always preferred to be honest with the people I met. I wanted to be up front. We can’t move forward if we are not clear on the rules of the game. It is a matter of trust. I did not want to promise something that I could not guarantee. But if a partner had told me, "OK, let’s take the risk, I understand the potential outcomes….." I would have gone along with that, of course I would.
VG: Still you are not questioning the selection rules?
YR: By no means. To guarantee that it will be the sailors who have sailed the most is right and proper and good for the race, it is in the interest of the race and the competitors to have the best prepared skippers. And the rule that you cannot change your boat after November 1 means that I was also blocking the boat for an owner who could no longer hope to charter it to another skipper. It did not seem right to someone who has been so supportive.
VG: So what are your future prospects?
YR: There is the Transat Jacques Vabre alongside Damien Seguin. We know each other well, it will be our third two handed transat We have the weapons to play in the "classic" IMOCA with crews like Clarisse Crémer and Armel Le Cléac'h or the likes of Nico Troussel - Jean Le Cam. And it will be a further opportunity to build experience for 2024.
VG: What are the next deadlines?
YR: Ideally it would be to buy a foiler at the end of the Vendée Globe in 2021 and have time to prepare myself. This is a reasonable prospect that I can offer now to my potential partners. In this case, I would have three years to prepare before the start of the 2024 edition.
VG: And in the shorter term?
YR: I do not know yet. By making this decision, I also send out a message I am available for new projects and new horizons.