They are among the latest sailors to have sailed around the world. However, for Romain Attanasio, Arnaud Boissières, Clément Giraud, Manuel Cousin and Alexia Barrier, the 2024 Vendée Globe has already started with no real break fro them since they finished the 2020-21 race. As for Sébastien Destremau, he has stopped in New Caledonia. They tell us more
If you listen closely, you get the feeling they are still out there in it. Romain Attanasio is in his car, Alexia Barrier just rounding the bend, Clément Giraud doing a lesson with his two kids (who are home taught) and Arnaud Boissières is bust chatting with a member of his team.
“It’s up to 2000 volts,” says ‘Cali’, with a smile on his face. He keeps repeating the same expression: ”Keep going while things are moving.” Romain Attanasio is in a similar state of mind, while Alexia Barrier prefers to talk about surfing the wave and Manuel Cousin is still going full pelt. What are they hoping for? They are preparing for what lies ahead. The next race and then the pleasure of looking forward to the Vendée Globe in four years from now.
“Everyone is hard at it” (Alexia Barrier)
While Clément Giraud is taking some time to think things through – “I’m trying to figure out what lies ahead, ‘while planning to ensure I take the right decision,” others are putting their foot down. “When you are a skipper, you always need to be one step ahead, looking for the budget, and wondering what is going to happen,” explained Manuel Cousin. “These projects take four years and it is important to get off to a good start and then take it away from there,” explained Romain Attanasio. “With my partners, we are looking at the feedback, what worked and what didn’t. But I know what I want to do,” added Arnaud Boissières.
Alexia Barrier, who has been busy with the media in Paris before starting a tour of the schools which followed her, is also looking ahead, something which she started to do when she began her climb back up the Atlantic. “We want to get things sorted out with our partners to be able to look ahead and set up a new programme.”
They are not the only ones to be thinking of the 2024 Vendée Globe. “Everyone is busy with everyone spinning around, making it complicated to purchase a boat, particularly as I want to take my time and choose when it suits me,” added Alexia.
Everyone looking for a second-hand IMOCA
“It’s obvious you need to be quick to get one of the better boats,” explained Romain Attanasio. “You can see what a huge success the Vendée Globe was. We might have thought that in the crisis that sponsors would have been more reticent, but that hasn’t happened and everyone is still just as interested.” Everyone believes that Louis Burton pulled off a masterstroke when he acquired L’Occitane en Provence (11th in the last Vendée Globe), which is to become the new Bureau Vallée 3.
“We have to make sure that this doesn’t lead to a huge increase in prices,” added Alexia Barrier. Another skipper who took part in the last edition points out the risks of provoking too much competition: “When I see that a sailor is trying to get my sponsors on board, I get angry. Everyone needs to show some respect and be honest if they want us to remain part of the family.”
“Everyone is missing being out there” (Giraud)
Even if this race to get out there again may seem exciting, it can also be worrying. “What am I missing? A bit of peace and quiet,” joked Alexia. “I felt good out there on my boat. We found our own pace aboard my Penguin.” “It’s not all fun ashore,” added Romain Attanasio. “We stepped ashore from a boat where we felt good and in spite of all the problems, it’s what we know how to deal with best.”
“At the moment, we feel a bit shut off in our little homes. We need to get some fresh air,” added Clément Giraud. “Sometimes, it seems obvious as they never stop talking about that. “Sometimes I feel up in the clouds and cannot concentrate on things,” smiled Romain Attanasio. “A few days ago, I was talking to people, but felt miles away and forgot what I was saying,” explained Alexia Barrier. Their diaries are full up, so they cannot look ahead to holidays. Nothing before Easter for Romain Attanasio and Sam Davies, while Alexia Barrier and Manuel Cousin said, “there wasn’t going to be much before the end of the year.”
Clément Giraud is making up for that by going surfing, while Manuel Cousin spent the weekend at Grand-Bornand in the Alps. Alexia Barrier, who is still under treatment for her back, did some walks along along the coast, while Romain Attanasio and Sam Davies returned from the island of Houat aboard a RIB after a night paying homage to the son of a friend lost at sea. Arnaud Boissières got back with his friend, Yannick Bestaven in Arcachon to go for a trip aboard a Class 8 (7.85m monohull aboard which they raced together as youngsters). “Sailing offshore is a bit of a luxury, but it is simply sailing that I’m missing,” said the skipper of La Mie Câline-Artisans Artipôle, who was pleased with his excursion with the new title-holder. The sea and its pleasures are never far away from the daily life of the sailors who compete in the Vendée Globe.
NEWS OF SÉBASTIEN DESTREMAU
He decided to throw in the towel on 16th January while sailing off New Zealand. Since then, Sébastien Destremau has moored up in Christchurch. The skipper of Merci says he was amazed by the welcome particularly from a French-NZ couple that put him up. “They had a complete workshop and helped me deal with the parts and get my boat back in shape,” he explained. This really helped him. “This helped me understand why I had so many problems during the Vendée Globe. In fact, my rudder bearings were done for. Badly screwed in place, poorly looked after and fitted.”
After five weeks of work aboard the boat, he sailed away heading for Auckland to “get a taste of the America’s Cup,” before heading for New Caledonia where his partner lives. Does he want to finish the race around the world? “I’m not that keen on doing the second part of the course, but maybe later alone or with my brothers.” While Sébastien Destremau does not have a clear timetable, he is thinking of next autumn after “the conference season in New Zealand.” But the skipper remains just as passionate: “For me, the Vendée Globe is no mere race. It has been my life every day foe the past six years.” The skipper is determined to tell his tale in a book due to be published in mid-May.