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Vendée Globe - Interview with Jérémie Beyou

by Vendée Globe on 21 Jun 2012
Jérémie Beyou - Vendée Globe 2012 Yvan Zedda © http://www.zedda.com.
The Vendée Globe 2012-2013 gets underway from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 10, 2012. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) will start his second Vendée Globe in less than five months time and shares details on his preparation and his goals.

Vendée Globe.org: Why have you decided to compete in the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe?
Jérémie Beyou: What I’m looking for in this race is above all the opportunity to face and fight against the best solo yachtsmen in the world on extraordinary boats that look like war machines. The challenge is to say that I’m good enough compared to the other entrants, that I can sail that machine on the edge of its limits all the way to the finish line. I’m preparing for a race, but also for a fight that usually ends like an adventure. All the Vendée Globe stories make my motivation and my will to race even stronger. It’s hard to know what to expect.

Vendée Globe.org: What do you fear the most in the Vendée Globe ?
Jérémie Beyou: Facing oneself isn’t that difficult because the three months spent offshore go by quite fast because there is always so much to do on board that kind of boat. Technical damage is almost part of everyday life, you prepare for it, you test the yacht to make sure it doesn’t happen during the race or that if it really has to happen, it doesn’t become too much of a problem. What I’m worried about is a possible strategic mistake, making the wrong choice. The Vendée Globe is solo, non-stop and without assistance. It means you’re on your own when it comes to choosing the route depending on the weather and you just can’t make mistakes. If you are, you have to be able to say: I was wrong, I haven’t made the best choices but I still have one or two months to go and others can be wrong too. You have to be able to question yourself and get back on your feet if you have made mistakes.

Vendée Globe.org: Has it been difficult to balance your budget?
Jérémie Beyou: The economic context isn’t easy so it took time. Even though the Vendée Globe is an amazing race covered by many media, companies such as Maître CoQ are forced to have a short-term vision, which makes them longer to get involved. Once the sponsor is here, it’s all about showing them they picked the right person and the right project. You have to remind them that the Vendée globe and IMOCA aren’t just about one race, it’s a series. It’s about competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Route du Rhum and sailing around Europe. So the brand will be constantly visible for four years, from one vendée Globe to the next. It took me a lot of time but I’ve found the right partner with Maître CoQ.

Vendée Globe.org: Are you in favour of one-design yachts?
Jérémie Beyou: Today, a brand new yacht costs 3.5 million euros, which is too much when you want to enter the race. We need lower price and construction costs as well as a longer life for boats, which would make them easier to pay for themselves. If you can say « that type of boat will be used in the next three or four Vendée Globe » and you can’t make any changes to the yachts, the boat’s annual cost will drop drastically and we’ll be able to think about long-term projects that will be interesting for businesses to whom the Vendée Globe matters.

I won’t stop fighting until the race is open to everyone.

Vendée Globe.org: How advance is your preparation?
Jérémie Beyou: My individual preparation has never stopped, I wake up every morning thinking about start day and thinking what is today’s race preparation schedule?. The physical preparation never stops either. I focus on strengthening my muscles (core and abs) and unlike many people, I like cycling better than running or swimming.

Vendée Globe.org: It’s hard not to notice the huge differences between some of the boats entering this Vendée Globe. Don’t you think there will be two levels of racing?
Jérémie Beyou: That’s what we’d like to avoid but let’s not kid ourselves: Alessandro di Benedettodoes not have the boat it takes to win. Neither does Tanguy de Lamotte, obviously. They will be at the start, which is good, they will experience the adventure and that’s the Vendée Globe spirit. We need projects that are more available financially. I think one-design boats would make that possible. Someone with a smaller budget could be at the start of the Vendée Globe with a new yacht. I am fighting and I will never stop fighting – even if one day I have the richest sponsor in the world – so the race is open to everyone. Let’s think about the young skippers, so all Vendée Globe yachtsmen aren’t in their fifties. Armel le Cléac’h and I are proof that after sailing in the Solitaire du Figaro, we manages to compete in the Vendée Globe (editor’s note: in 2008-2009) because costs were slightly cheaper and the economy was in a better shape. It’s sad to see there are no Figaro specialists in the Vendée Globe any more. This time, except for François Gabart, no Solitaire du Figaro skipper will be in the Vendée Globe, for financial reasons. It does matter and I think this is something we should be careful about.

Vendée Globe.org: Is there a specific moment you’re fearing in the race?
Jérémie Beyou: No need to look too far, you can get in trouble as early as the Bay of Biscay, where the sea can be very rough because of upward current. Because of the excitement of the start and the anxiety, that time can be tough to deal with and you have to be particularly careful.

Vendée Globe.org: What is your goal in this Vendée Globe?
Jérémie Beyou: To be in the top five or Vendée Globe website
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