Clément Giraud : this adventure helped me grow up

© Hortense Hébrard

After the assessors examined the boat, it soon became apparent that repairs would be very costly. Looking at the situation, Fortil, Clément Giraud’s partner finally decided to throw in the towel. For the sailor from the Var department in Southern France, it was a huge blow, but he is not the sort of person who easily gives up…


Vendée Globe: Clément, can we quickly run through what happened?

Clément Giraud: After fire broke out aboard my boat that was moored up shortly before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, we tried to analyse the situation. The work would be very expensive, particularly as we weren’t sure how much we would have to do. Unlike a collision where the parts to be repaired can be indentified relatively easily, when we are looking at a fire, it’s very complicated to know which structural elements have been affected.

Given that uncertainty, my partner decided to pull out.


VG: That must have been tough for you…

CG: It’s never easy to hear that sort of news. But I understand their reasoning. I had partners who had to stick to budgets and they are not necessarily able to continue in the adventure with all the reconstruction work and all the uncertainties that entails. 


VG: So, what are your prospects in the short and medium term?

CG: Taking into account the situation, it is now impossible to think about setting sail again aboard this boat. That is blocking me from clocking up the miles, as the rules for the Vendée Globe stipulate that we have to race aboard the boat on which we registered by the 1st November 2019. So, in theory, I am no longer able to qualify for the 2020 Vendée Globe, but I’m not the sort of person who gives up just like that…


VG: What have you in mind?

CG: I still have several technical partners who have agreed to continue to work with me. My idea is to charter an IMOCA which meets the requirements and to take part in the next two big races in 2020 pre-season, in other words, The Transat CIC and the New York – Vendée. After that, I keep telling myself, anything is possible. If I get things sorted, I intend to make a request to the IMOCA class and the SAEM Vendée to obtain the right to start the race. That would mean there would have to be fewer than 34 competitors at the start, as it is out of the question for me to steal someone else’s place after they have been through the whole of the selection process. My accident makes this a special case: I hope the Race Directors and organisers will look at my case and be kind.


VG: There appear to be a lot of conditions here…

CG: I know that. But in any case, it is a way for me to prepare for the future. If my project does not work out in 2020, I will have already laid down some markers for next time. There was a lot of enthusiasm around my project: more than 400 youngsters sailed aboard my boat and local businesses were starting to become interested in sailing. We are in the process of proving that an ambitious offshore racing project has its place in SE France. It’s worth all the effort…

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