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Doyle Sails NZ - Never Look Back

Vendee Globe - Emotion and reflection in Les Sables d’Olonne

by Vendee Globe on 8 Feb 2013
Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe © http://www.vendeeglobe.org
Following the arrival of three Vendee Globe skippers in Les Sables d’Olonne in close succession yesterday - to conclude their respective adventures - today was one for the respective skippers, Jean Le Cam, Mike Golding and Bernard Stamm to reflect on their own races in more depth.

After the rich emotions of their very different arrivals there was Le Cam, flitting between acute introspection and pantomime pomp. Golding was disappointed but delivered from a frustrating race but almost euphoric when he reflected on his experiences across his 14 years and four Vendee Globes and Stamm disqualified but not defeated, charismatic, objective, his sparky, renegade spirit unbowed. All three, in their own way, proved hugely popular as they connected with the public, the Vendée Globe fans.

Wednesday saw Le Cam finish his Press Conference dancing on the table, another Vendée Globe first. Golding today was patient, informative, no less passionate for keeping his feet on the ground and really revealed the reasons he has been back to the race so many times and finished three times. He spent a long time answering questions from schoolkids. And Stamm was expansive, open, truthful and showing immense integrity. Inevitably he questions a fundamental rule which is either black or white, but his question seemed as much catharsis as seeking a change for the future.

For Le Cam – who has a second place under his belt - the dream of winning is probably to be reconsidered another day. For Golding it is conclusively over. Given the opportunity Stamm would likely take the start line tomorrow if he were guaranteed an official ranking.


Meantime the third member of the 50-somethings, Dominique Wavre on Mirabaud is set to finish his third Vendée Globe this Friday around 1300hrs to 1500hrs. The Swiss skipper has sailed a typically assured race, pleasingly devoid of drama and one which he has clearly enjoyed almost all of. He has proven himself to be at one with his boat in all its different environments and has visibly enjoyed sharing the challenge.

Around 24-36 hours later Arnaud Boissières homecoming on Saturday should be big as the first Les Sables d’Olonne based skipper. He will be suffering with slightly lighter winds than Wavre who was pointed at Les Sables d’Olonne today.

Bertrand de Broc is due Sunday late afternoon. Tanguy de Lamotte is back up to close to close to full speed after making his successful repairs and Alessandro Di Benedetto is climbing slowly out of the Doldrums.

Mike Golding

Jean Le Cam said that you were, ‘born to p*ss him off?'

[Mike laughs!] It did seem like destiny that the two of us [Jean Le Cam] would be glued together not necessarily a good destiny! But to be honest I am and have always been a great admirer of Jean and it was a relief to me to be next to Jean because in a way it validates your own performance.


It’s good to be back?

It’s a relief to be back and to do the race, everyone is now saying that I have done the race three times successfully, I never did it for that reason, I never do things to accumulate numerical supremacy. I set out to try to win the Vendée Globe and I suppose in that regard I failed but along the way I have had many other dreams have come true. I’ve had a lot of good things have happened even though you strive towards one goal and you achieve others along the way.

You have a considerable feeling of satisfaction?

I’m very satisfied. I feel very fortunate to have had four opportunities to compete in the Vendée Globe, I know I’m lucky to have had such opportunities, but I don’t think I wasted any of them. This race I may not have got the result I would have liked but in my heart I know I sailed a good race. I don’t see many mistakes that I made in the race. I couldn’t compete with the lead group but I don’t think I did too badly all things considered.

You’ve left nothing out there?

There’s nothing left to leave out there. I gave the race, as I have every race I’ve done, not just the Vendée, I give the race the maximum attention. It doesn’t always deliver the perfect dream. It delivers a dream. I am thinking almost of Jean Pierre when I say that. His story was not the story he intended, but the story he created was almost better than the story he envisaged. Maybe it is a little bit like that for me?

What were the high points?

Leaving. And arriving!

Compared to what you have done in the past, I can remember you doing 24-25 knots in the South and being on the phone and being quite happy, it seemed, I think the word you used most in the race was frustrating.

It was frustrating. In the South we fell off the gravy train, so to speak, I think Jean and Dominic will both identify with this, we fell off the gravy train. The gravy train was like 100 miles in front of us and the gravy train just kept giving gravy all the way across the Southern Ocean. What was frustrating was that you see the poll come in, you see Macif and Banque Populaire and Alex, all doing 20 knot averages and you just know you can't do that. In the whole race, I think I had one poll with a 19 knot average which was when I was on the north going gybe in the Southern Ocean, which was the one gybe they were on nearly all the time. But for myself, Jean and Dominic we were always on the south going gybe and it was horrible, you could never maintain your speeds because of the wave pattern.

I suppose in the bigger picture, what goes around comes around and you still hold the record Cape to Cape.

That is extraordinary, I must have had a glamour year. That is not one race ago, that's two, that's not one generation of boat older, that's three generations of boat older so yes, I must have had a glamour year that year. Even though we have had a difficult race, I am sure Jean will have said this and I know Dominic will back it up, what is surprising is our speed, it is still good. It is still good speed and the averages are good. I don't really understand it because when I was sat out there, it felt like it was taking an eternity! The reality is that it was a fast race, even for us.

Do you have any particular regrets what went on before the race, losing your mast, did that affect you psychologically or otherwise?

I don't think so. I think what we ended up with was the very, very best configuration we could have had. We have a fantastic Future Fibres mast on the boat. It is the first Vendée Globe race, in fact the first round the world race that I haven't had to go up the mast and that is the acid test. If I don't have to go up the mast, that is a magnificent success for the mast maker and the rigging maker and the people that prepared that mast and I owe them a debt of gratitude because I hate going up the mast so thank you very much for a Vendée Globe free of climbing the mast.

Bernard Stamm

On whether he deserved to be disqualified:

I can’t see how I could have done things differently. If the Russian boat hadn’t been around, I wouldn’t have moored to it, obviously, but I would have been disqualified anyway because I would have wanted to save my boat anyway. You’re in a place you don’t know, you are anchored but you feel the boat drifting, you have to do something. I lost a boat in 2008 in similar circumstances. I think I did what I had to do, that’s it.

On François Gabart:

I would have loved to see him at the finish, but I know he’s busy. I like him a lot, we’ve worked together throughout our preparations. He invited me on board Macif, but he didn't let me go inside! His performance is amazing, during the training sessions we could see he was very comfortable with this boat. It’s like he was having a nice and quiet drive to the supermarket while we were still trying to figure out how the engine worked. Keeping that intense rhythm throughout the race with Armel chasing him is definitely something, a great performance.

On whether he is feeling proud:

I’m very happy I sailed Cheminées Poujoulat around the world, that’s a huge satisfaction. Circumnavigations are long and complicated. It is something great to achieve. You have no idea how long the race can feel. Sailing up the Atlantic takes forever, you feel like you’re travelling through several different worlds. So I’m proud I went through that and came back.

On his future projects:

Cheminées Poujoulat and I have a project that runs until the Jacques Vabre Transat, so we don’t have to ask ourselves questions or make tough decisions right before or right after the Vendée Globe. It’s way too early to say if I will be in the next Vendée Globe. It’s such a demanding race project in terms of money and energy. The boat was a teenager when I left, and now she’s become an adult, so I don’t want to leave her in the hands of someone else Vendee Globe website

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