The time is right for Kevin Escoffier. A member of the famous Saint Malo sailing dynasty Escoffier has won the Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng, the Trophée Jules Verne with Banque Populaire among his many sailing honours. But he is also an in demand composites engineer who ran the Banque Populaire Sailing Team’s design office and so contributed heavily to the success of Armel Le Cléac’h on the last race. He says his choice to try solo racing is about not living with a regret he never tried when he is older.
Date of birth: April 4, 1980
Place of birth: Saint-Malo
Studies and professional background:
"I trained as an engineer in specialising in the structure of materials and structures. I did 3 years at EPF in Paris, 2 years at the École polytechnique de Montréal and 8 months at the University of Maryland. When I came back to France, I joined Mer Agitée in Port-La-Forêt, to carry out my final year project with Michel Desjoyeaux. There I worked on the Ormas and I was lucky enough to participate in the build of two boats: the multihull Crêpes Whaou II and the IMOCA PRB of Vincent Riou. "
In the beginning, first sailing
" It's our family story. I grew up with a dad (Franck-Yves Escoffier) who sailed a lot. After developing his fishing business he raced multihulls in prestigious races including the Route du Rhum and the Quebec-Saint-Malo. I have more memories of the being at sea rather than just sailing, especially when we went on cruises with my parents. Getting up early, feeling the cold, appreciating the differences in the weather for all different reasons, at sea, the sensations are all much more intense, day and night. "
How and why did your desire to race offshore come about?
“There was no one point when it clicked. I feel like I've always loved the open sea. And then I had the chance to participate in Transats with my father, in particular the Quebec-Saint-Malo in 2000 and 2004. I also remember a delivery between Newport and Quebec where I took a lot of pleasure. Away from racing it doesn't stop me from just loving being on the water. "
And so when did it become your career and how has it unfolded?
“It didn't happen suddenly. After PRB was launched in 2008, Banque Populaire asked me to become head of the design office. There I had the chance to participate in several fascinating projects: we designed two IMOCAs, I sailed on Banque Populaire VII (ex-Groupama 3) and won the Jules-Verne trophy in 2011. Then I took part in two Volvo Ocean Races (2014-2015 and 2017-2018) and at the after these experiences, I was tempted to take on a solo adventure. I clicked, telling myself that it was the right time and not to live to regret not having tried it. And then I was lucky enough to be contacted by PRB. "
A result or experience that you are most proud of?
" There are two. First, the Jules-Verne in 2011. I was very proud, not only for the result – even if the record would still have been broken with someone else in my place - but I was a part of the entire project from the design to the end result. And then there's the Volvo Ocean Race. I have fond memories of my first participation (2014-2015) with Charles Caudrelier, Pascal Bidegorry, Eric Peron, Thomas Rouxel. That time it was very much more like the French school against the Anglo-Saxons! And that race helped me gain more confidence.
Tack, tack, short tacks
What is your main quality in life? “I am a very persistent person. I don't see myself as an especially talented person, but one who works hard to get there. When there is a goal, I do everything to achieve it! "
And what is your main flaw in life? "To constantly want to give everything to a project, it can become almost obsessive, which is not easy for those around me".
If you were an animal? "A beluga ... Because it's beautiful! (laughs) "
If you were a plant, a film, a music, a color? "I've never asked myself this type of question… (laughs) Your dream of happiness? “I'm not sure there is a one and only happiness. I feel there are a multitude of little pleasures. And life is great when you add them up or multiply them! "
Your hero in life? “I don't have the temperament to be a fan. On the other hand, I can be very impressed by careers and by the personalities who became known for their work or their talent. Recently I read a book about Évariste Galois who revolutionized mathematics before he died at age 20 (1811-1832). It’s amazing! "
A key phrase? "It’s never enough! "
If you weren't an offshore racer, you would be… "Working in another environment that is a lot like ours: motorsport (F1, rally, MotoGP). Because in these two areas, we have the opportunity to think of a model, to design it, to use it all in the space of a few years. In aeronautics, it takes over 15 years to finally see the plane you are working on fly! "
Vendée Globe 2020
Your ambitions for the Vendée Globe 2020 “The main objective is to finish. Then I hope to fight to be the first old generation boat. If I could do that I would be very happy. "
Weak points (what would keep you from reaching your goal, outside of a breakage): "I'm going to have to be careful not to be too ultra competitive and be careful not to push too hard. I'm not very good at keeping my competitive urges in check and the Vendée Globe is a very long race, there can be a lot of things happen. We will have to look after the boat and not try to hang on to the top boats at all l costs. "
Your lethal weapon: “My boat! It is certainly a bit slower slower than those of the favourites but it is very versatile, which will be essential for adapting to variations in the weather. "
What would a successful VG be for you? “If I manage to finish in the Top 5, I'll be happy! "
What do you want to share? "I want to share what life on board is like. Today, the general public has access to sports everywhere all the time. And what is the very essence of ocean racing is that it goes on all the time, it never stops. This is what I hope to convey during this round the world "
In three words, VG for you is, A single-handed round the world race!
Three standout images you have of VG: "Well, the victory of Armel Le Cléac’h in the last edition was very special, especially since I had been involved in the construction of the boat and its success was the result of great teamwork. In addition, we all have in our minds Raphaël Dinelli standing on his boat after capsizing and Kito de Pavant's keelbox problems during the last edition. Of course, we can all find ourselves in unpleasant situations, but 99% of the time it ends well. "
Which skipper inspires you? “I have had the chance to sail with very good skippers: Michel Desjoyeaux, Loïck Peyron, Pascal Bidegorry, Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier ... They all have a very rich track record and at the same time, they each have different ways of sailing. "
You wouldn't go around the world without… "Reserves of good food! I like to eat a lot and I am very fond of tinned fish, mackerel, anchovies, sardines!
Environmental / scientific actions on this race: "With PRB, we support the WWF, which we display on the boat. When it comes to the environment, I think we need to ask ourselves about competitive sports. What if in the future the criteria for a successful project were are also based on its environmental impact? "