23 November 2020 - 09:10 • 20978 views

Share

Article

Chasing the Vendee Globe fleet after having to restart nine days after the original start, Jérémie Beyou is working hard on Charal 200 miles off the African coast. 

Jérémie Beyou (Charal) is sailing down the coast of Africa making good progress and "I feel like I'm discovering my sport," he tells us this morning on the radio vacation session:

Jérémie, you can hear the whistling of the foil in the background. That's a good sign! 
“We are doing well and you can hear the whistling as I go down this slightly tunconventional course. The weather gave me a choice: either do a long route out to the West, or the a course along the African coastline, which I went for. The African route is not technically easy, there are the passages through the less of the islands, with the wind shadows. I found a good wind corridor last night and I have more than I expected. So I let the boat speak, which is magic. Now I am sailing never below 20 knots, it's brilliant. There were a few sail changes to be done, particularly around the Canary Islands side where there were 30 knots, but these were straightforward and so not heavy going. I have now passed the Canaries, the sea has settled down and it nicer than the crossed seas we had yesterday.

It must a comfort you to finally be able to set the tempo...
Ah, it feels good. Morally, I have ups and downs. Right now, I'm sad for Alex (Thomson), because it's a pain in the ass for him, it's a pain to see him slow down. He's got a big repair to do, it's really not cool. I've been thinking about him all day. I support him, I hope he will fix it and get back in the fight soon. But when I see that I am 3000 miles behind the lead, that I am in the North Atlantic while they are at the bottom of the South Atlantic, it is not easy to swallow. I take advantage of the fact that the boat is going well, and I'm making progress hour by hour. 

Do you find the balance between the need to put your foot down and the need to preserve the boat? 
It's complicated, because these are not easy boats to live with. To push them, you need motivation, and this motivation comes from the competition. It's what pushes you to your limits. As soon as the boat goes at 16 knots, it whistles and you have to put on a headphones. And it becomes stressful. It's not easy to push unless the competition is there; it's better to be in contact to feel like pushing. I have to find a steady pace because I'd like to get back in contact with the fleet before getting into the Southern Ocean. And when it's not easy, I let the boat do it.

You've had so many messages of encouragement, a lot of respect, including one from Jacques Caraës, the race director, who wrote to you like the friend he is... Does that comfort you?
I didn't get all the messages, but I did get one from Jacques. Jacques knows what I think of him... We've known each other for a long time, he taught me how to race, what I need to know to sail the boat with crewed and solo. He is an excellent race director.

I know that I'm getting messages coming in everywhere, and it's quite amazing. Why all this when you are last in the race? Do I deserve it, considering my ranking? But in this difficult phase, it feels good, you have to soak it up. I try not to get too emotional about it, because otherwise, if you start thinking about everything, you don't do anything anymore. But it is good that people care about me and it is still crazy that people are so passionate about this race.

 

Precisely, studies show that the public is more passionate about your story, the Vendée Globe, than about the Tour de France cycling race.

It's unbelievable for me, as a big fan of the Tour! Reaching the level of the Tour de France is exceptional. I'm not formatted for the adventure, for what I'm currently experiencing, but I realise that what appears at first to be a technical adventure is ultimately only human. People are passionate about it, and that's natural. I also realise that it's crazy to know so little about a sport I've practised all my life. I've been sailing all my life and I don't know: I'm discovering a facet that is more human than I imagined.

 

On Saturday, one of your heroes, Thomas Voeckler (cyclist), was present on the set of Vendée Live. In his professional career, Thomas has raced the equivalent of 9 Vendée Globe races. That leaves you room to come back to it!

(He laughs) Thomas is a hell of a guy, he made France vibrate. It's also good that people from his world are interested in what  we do“.