Yann Eliès, a member of the race management team for the next Vendée Globe, is the co-skipper of Yoann Richomme on his new IMOCA Paprec Arkéa in the Transat Jacques Vabre. Just a few days before the start of this race, which Yann has already won three times, the Vendée Globe team caught up with him.
With a mischievous smile and a calm voice, the future assistant race director of the Vendée Globe welcomes us into the closed cockpit of Yoann Richomme's brand new IMOCA Paprec Arkéa, moored in the Paul Vatine basin in Le Havre. At almost 50 years old, the passion of the skipper from Saint Brieuc - whose sailing CV is as long as a day without wind - is palpably intact! A three-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, he also won the Transat Jacques Vabre three times, including twice in the IMOCA class, with Jean-Pierre Dick in 2017 and with Charlie Dalin in 2019 on APIVIA, now named l'Occitane en Provence and skippered by Clarisse Crémer. His career has been marked by two Vendée Globe races: the first in 2008, which ended with his retirement following a serious accident off Australia, and the second in 2016, which he finished in 5th place after a fierce battle against Jean-Pierre Dick and Jean le Cam.
He confesses that his career as a solo racer is now behind him: "I don't want to be at the head of my own project any more. I still want to sail, whether double-handed or with a crew. But above all I think that my experience as a sailor can contribute something to a race management team." By joining the Paprec Arkéa team and taking part in the double-handed races in the 2023 IMOCA Globe Series with Yoann Richomme, Yann Eliès is gaining invaluable experience on a brand new generation IMOCA boat: "it gives you a better understanding of what skippers go through at sea". A competitor first and foremost, he makes no secret of his pleasure at accompanying "one of the best skippers of the moment". In the Transat Jacques Vabre, the duo are there to win!
Living the Vendée Globe ashore
A close friend of Jacques Caraës, the race director for the 2020 edition, with whom he sailed around the world with a crew in 2005 (and won the Jules Verne Trophy), Yann contacted him after the last Vendée Globe to tell him that he wanted to join the race management team in 2024: "I was curious to see how a Vendée Globe is run from the inside". The 'rookie' on the race management team seems very enthusiastic about taking on this new challenge: "I'm not worried because the whole team has already done a Vendée Globe, so I have complete confidence in them. He adds with a smile: "Maybe I'm not fully aware of what it's going to be like. It's a bit of a beginner's privilege! It's the same on a Vendée Globe, when it's your first one you're not too stressed because you don't really know what to expect.”