28 January 2021 - 10:17 • 13419 views



The best of what was an illuminating and engaging press conference with new Vendee Globe champion Yannick Bestaven who at 48 is the oldest winner in the history of the race. 

Yannick Bestaven – Maître CoQ IV

"Thank you for the welcome! This arrival is exceptional, despite the health situation. In Covid-19 time, it is great, all the efforts you have made.

My objective was already to finish the Vendée Globe. In 2008, I had dismasted, it's a frustration that I could not get over for a long time, it was hard. I set out with the aim of finishing this Vendée Globe, and rather well because I had all the cards stacked in my favour: a great sponsor, a professional team around me, a good boat, experience, maturity. Finishing well can mean being in the top five, then when you're in the top five, you say to yourself 'Why not a podium?' When I was able to take the lead, I really thought that there was something I could do. As the race went on, I got caught up in the game. There were retirements and breakdowns. It's part of the marathon.

When I was in front off Brazil losing my 400 mile lead, I could no longer believe it. For all the sailors who are going to cross the finish line, it is already a victory: from first to last, everyone has won. We all experience ups and downs; this race is made up of unexpected events and trials to overcome. As Michel Desjoyeaux used to say, "The Vendée Globe is a pain in the ass every day". It was the case for all of us, and all those who could claim victory believed at one point that it would stop.

The key is perhaps a good preparation beforehand, having a good entourage. I left very calmly. I knew what it meant to go around the world alone, that it was dangerous and risky. I set off without stress in the best conditions. The week before the start, I decompressed well, I was zen. My sponsor never put pressure on me". 


A team effort

"It's more than a team, it's a family. It's a wonderful story. The planets aligned when I met the boss of Maître CoQ, then I met Bilou. We made made up a team combining people from Brittany and from La Rochelle and it worked well. We put gathered a great team. I hope we will continue together. 
Mental preparation was not my first focus initially. I didn't put it in the work compared to the preparation of the boat. I had to make choice on some sails because I didn't have an extra budget. I understood that the Vendée Globe was not just a race of pure speed, but also a mental race. I did this preparation, and it transformed me (laughs)".


The Escoffier Effect 
"The sinking of Kevin (Escoffier) affected me. There was a video the next day, it was even a little too early to talk about it. It took me a long time to get back in the race after that. When the race direction called me, they asked me if I felt prepared to join Jean. The answer was obvious. I had to turn around and sail upwind. I called Jean, disappointed because he had lost sight of Kevin. He was very scared at that point. We spent a night in hell, it lasted until dawn. You are on deck looking for a friend in a life raft. There was a big sea, I had three reefs in... I was already cold, and I thought of him in his raft. The more hours passed, the more I thought it was over. When we heard the news of his rescue, it really took me a long time to get back on my feet. I was scared for him, for all of us too, because if his boat had broken, why wouldn't ours break too? It was a difficult time. I congratulate Jacques Caraës and the whole team, Christian Dumard too. We had them on the phone, the situation was handled in a very professional way, emotion was really put aside. They handled it with such composure! It's thanks to them that Kevin was saved".


The road back 
"There was the northern option that I took to pass to the west of the Azores. This gave me back my confidence after losing so many miles. I had big sail problems since Cape Horn. On the reaching tack that we were on I was sailing under J3 instead of J2 and in fact I managed to hold on. And I regained my confidence. I had the sails to go into strong winds, so it was the only thing I had to do if I wanted to make a come-back. There were times when I said I had too much sail area up, but I didn't want to reduce. The boat was fine, I could sleep. At times it was enjoyable. Shall I put in a reef? Oh no, I'll wait a little. When you start climbing back, it's enjoyable". 


What memories?
"I have a lot of good memories, sorting through them is difficult. The descent into the St. Helena high pressure system with Boris, who filmed me with his drone, we were on the verge of stopping for a drink! The unforgettable moment was being at Cape Horn at the lead. It was a great moment because I was coming out of complicated weather conditions. I hesitated to slow down to let the depression pass. I was 200 miles ahead of Charlie, I think, so I told myself I shouldn't slow down. I've never seen seas as big as the 24 hours before Cape Horn. It was almost 10 metres, I think. As I drove into the waves, I blew my bow pushpit off. I was surfing at over 32 knots, and I made slamming stops, ending up in the bulkheads from the bunk.

Now I feel like having a good beer and partying! We're will need to think about what's next when we've decompressed, everything in its time". 

Small foils or big foils?
"I won with small foils, but that's no reason to keep small foils. I know there was a lot of debate. Boats with large foils broke a lot. But others are still in the game: L'Occitane en Provence is doing very well. You have to see it as a turbo, because you can't use them all the time. In the south, you couldn't go faster, but when the conditions are right, it's really an accelerator. You mustn't ignore the reliability of these foils. We'll have to think with the IMOCA class about how to avoid water entry points if we rip a foil off. The boats must remain unsinkable. But it is certain that large foils are the solution". 

Charlie Dalin
"I congratulated Charlie for his very good race. He fought to cross the finish line first. I also thanked him for his reaction, he reacted like a real sportsman, despite the polemics we heard. He crossed the finish line first in real time, he is second in compensated time. I told him that in four year’s time, it would be him who would win the trophy, and that he is tough!"