Modest, shy and – as the French would say – very discrete, Didac Costa was enchanting as he spoke to his Press Conference in his native Spanish language today. And if Didac can be quiet and unassuming his welcome by his counterparts from the Les Sables d’Olonne Sapeurs Pompiers – the local firefighters – was sustained, loud and appreciative. That special bond created in 2016 when they were instrumental in getting him back on the race course after his generator and electrical problems brought him back to Les Sables d’Olonne, are stronger than ever. Suffice to say Didac’s welcome was truly special.
How did you feel with the firefighters welcoming you back to the Channel?
It was extraordinary. There were not so many people in the Channel as the last edition but to see people out there being happy for you and happy for what you have done, even when you have done it twice it is surprising. This time it was really moving and incredible. I was so touched by the support of the firefighters.
How did you live this one compared to four years ago?
The course is the same. The last time I had very old sails that broke and I had the boat better prepared with new sails and so it was much more different in terms of sailing. I could push hard and I could really enjoy the course and the beauty of the landscape and to enjoy the extraordinary thing that is the Vendée Globe.
Four memories, descent of Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Pacific and then going back up the Atlantic?
The descent of the Atlantic I remember very good first days but it was difficult to get accustomed to the boat and I remember the first front. The Indian I remember being side by side with Pip and trying to stick with her, I was close to her. The Pacific the last ten days were really difficult with big conditions with swell and wind. And for the climb up the Atlantic it was mostly the north Atlantic which was difficult getting round the Azores anticyclone and having to spend more time that expected and so that was starting to be a little bit complicated for me.
The Southern Oceans you now know very well, was there a highlight moment in the big South?
It is almost impossible to choose because Cape Horn is very emotional but the Southern Oceans give you such a special image when the boat is going fast and the conditions are good. The most magical thing is that the whole course feels wild and in the south that really intensifies I had so many magical moments. And in the end rounding Cape Horn is very intense.
You made a courageous choice in removing the daggerboards, how did that affect your performance?
It was a good choice to take out the daggerboard. I was able to really test this going down the Atlantic after the Equator and going back up, during a few days when I could monitor my performance alongside other boats it was good. When I was upwind in the Indian Ocean for a short time one and a half days I would have not used my daggerboards that much anyway.
You are now the best solo ocean racer in Spain, an iconic sailor how does that make you feel?
You just cannot compare things because it is so difficult in Spain for skippers to do the Vendée Globe and so I am lucky to have had the support of so many people and the team to be able to do two Vendée Globes and it is not obvious for many skippers to be able to try to get the budget to do the Vendée Globe. Even me with my limited budget it was difficult. There is a lot of good talent in Spain but you cannot compare us, a lot don’t have the assets to do this type of race. So I am very happy but it is very difficult and I am sad that many more Spanish skippers cannot participate.
So it appears you did the whole round the world race with two right foot boots?
That is true. I had two pairs, one better suited to the cold but when I packed I took two right boots and did try to put them both on together on several occasions but it was not comfortable
Will you come back with the same boat?
It is difficult to know. Of course I have been thinking about it all the time but if I do it will need to be with another boat because the class rules evolve and it I have to be ready for the next one and that would be with a newer, different boat.
What did you learn?
I learned a lot. It is so intense you are learning every day, you are learning 24 hours a day, learning about the boat, how to sail it and the meteo forecasting.
Would you like a boat with foils?
It is complicated to get the means to do this and at the moment it is not the right time to talk about it.