Catalonian fireman Didac Costa is ready for his second Vendee Globe with his famous IMOCA One Planet One Ocean. This will be his third round the world with the boat which Ellen MacArthur had built for the 2000-1 race in which she finished second. Didac is hoping for a less stressful start than last time when he had to return to Les Sables d'Olonne with water damage to his generator. The battle to restart was massively helped by his counterparts from the Les Sables d'Olonne fire service. That relationship has been rekindled since he arrived and Costa is in good shape, looking forwards to the rest he hopes he will finally get during next week's enforced confinement.
So Didac how has your preparation been compared to your last edition in 2016-17 with your famous boat?
“This edition has been a bit different; we have had a bit more time to work on the boat.. We have done more works and optimsation on the boat but in the end we had to push hard to be ready on time. That said we have more people in the team than the previous time; it is true that many of the people who help us are volunteers but we are more people and I am very happy with the team we have.
How many miles have you sailed before arriving here in Les Sables d’Olonne? What has been the longest spell sailing the boat since the last ? Have you sailed on another boat apart from the IMOCA?
During this time, the sailing on the boat has been limited to the qualification, which was 2,000 nm, the delivery to here and other than that two or three small 2-3 day sails testing stuff when we went to Mallorca. So in reality it is not too much sailing for a project like this, but If you compare it with the last time it is a bit more, not much more but it is something.
Are you frustrated to be here again with the same boat? Would you like to have had a newer more competitive boat this time?
The truth is that I am happy to be in the race at all. Yes, the boat is getting old, she is one of the oldest in the entire fleet now and you always want to be here with a better boat. The advantage with this boat now is that I have been able to make some modifications; in terms of equipment she is in a better shape than in the previous edition and I know this boat very well. I see it as a positive side of this, she is the boat I have and I am glad to be here with her.
Last week you were still working as a fireman, what do your colleagues think about you? Do they think you are a bit crazy for doing this?
Actually, and this is a big difference compared to France, in Spain there is still not much knowledge about the Vendée Globe beyond people who know the sea or sail, so and I think they just do not really understand what I am going to do. They are very surprised that I am going to go around the world in a boat and alone, they are very curious about it and they will follow me for sure. They will learn!
What are you going to do during the confinement? How do you expect to spend your time?
Somehow I am quite looking forwards to it because am looking to bank some rest. I think I have been practically going hard at it for a year without resting. Those are going to be my first days off. I’ll rest and finish the things that are pending, I am going to look at the ‘meteo’, I will relax. So, basically I will rest.
Money, it looks a bit tight for you. Are you still looking for money?
Put it this way, yes we are still open to new proposals, new partners and sponsors. We have many things to offer still and and lots of projects that we are going to develop during the race. But for sure the money side is still a big worry with a lot of things to be resolved.
How is your current situation in terms of budget? Are you ok with the funds you have got thanks to crow funding?
At the moment it is just satisfying that we reached the goal we set ourselves in a short time. We have had problems with money from the beginning, and we are very happy that with options like the crowdfunding or with some sponsors that have joined us some weeks or days ago, we are definitely set better on the money side.
What makes you want to be back here? Was there a moment when you thought you could not be at the start line?
You never stop thinking about this race. Making such a project like this is very difficult and you really see the difficulties that lie along the way. But having the experience of the previous edition, I did know that fighting, making the maximum effort to take into account all the aspects that must be prepared in order to participate, we could be here. We have never lost hope, and thanks to a great determination here we are about to cross the start line; we are so very happy about this.
Have you have the opportunity to be with the firemen from Les Sables d’Olonne since your arrival here?
Yes, as soon as I arrived I saw and talked to some of them again. I am so very happy to see them again. As last time, they are ready to help; they help both me and the team a lot. It is like a memory of the last time. It is something nice. In some ways it relives what happened last time but now it is nice to be able to be here now and share this new project with them as well.
The boat looks pretty nice, she has new sails… do you feel better on the boat? Is there an aspect of the boat you think you have significantly improved?
Yes. We have worked a lot on the boat last winter and spring; to try to improve her as much as possible because we can forget she is an old boat. Having new sails is a very important aspect, since it gives you a lot of reliability and I feel more confident to take on this race round the world. We have also made several changes inside the boat: to the ballast tanks, changed the engine, the boat has been lightened quite a lot and this makes her a bit faster, and I can try to sail faster than in the last race. .
How many hours do you think you have been working on the boat?
I don't know how to count them! It would be easier to tell you how many hours I have not been working on her. In reality these days are the ones I was working in m day job as as a firefighter plus maybe no more two or three afternoons in a year that I have taken off (laughs).
Who will be your main competitors on the water?
I do not know. Everything is really very open in the Vendée Globe so we will see. At first sight, the boats similar to mine, that are old boats. I believe there are two or three boats in the fleet that are from the same generation than my boat; but from here on, unfortunately, there are always breakdowns. I hope that does not happen to me, but you never know out there anything can happen.
In the past there was much more Spanish presence in IMOCAs thanks to FNOB and the Barcelona World Race, now back home in Barcelona the Mini class is flourishing again. In a few years do you think some of these young people could get into the IMOCA and even in the Vendée Globe in the future?
Yes, why not! Obviously, if you really want it... For example, I started sailing in Mini class and now I am able to be at the start of this Vendée Globe and I have also done the last one. More and more people are interested in ocean sailing now, not many but in reality it is many more compared to a long time ago. So being optimistic, you think that perhaps step-by-step, in a few years, there will be more people interested in this sport, and from now on we will see ... It would be very nice that a round-the-world project comes out.