On Saturday 22nd January at 12:11:45 pm (Paris time) the Maxi Banque Populaire V took off Ushant on her first attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy with a reference time of 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds to beat.
Thirteen days later, in the South Atlantic, just before entering the Indian, the wonderful adventure carried out by Pascal Bidegorry and his men stopped suddenly after a collision with an UFO *, damaging heavily the daggerboard. The crew decided to sail the giant trimaran back to Lorient after having performed some repair on the injured piece.
After fifteen days delivery, the crew arrived this morning in Lorient, the opportunity for them to come back on this unique experience of this first attempt. Pascal Bidegorry - skipper – off watch:
'We continued to work well on this delivery. The objective was to carry on sailing as if we were still in the record ... not with the full performance of the boat for sure but in the organization on board as the crew has done during the first twelve days of racing. It was important not to stop and to keep the same dynamic. I have had the time to ask myself all the questions possible. There are three tiny jobs to do (laughs) but I'm more determined than before. The boat is good, it's a fact, everyone says so, but I really enjoyed sailing with the guys. We have everything to make this project a success. It is not trivial to spend thirty days at sea and it will definitely greatly serve us. The Team has done a tremendous job and we all grown up a bit. We learned to live together, living the boat's performance. Living together at 20 knots or at 35 knots is not the same. We do not handle the boat as we used to do. I tried to learn by watching others and seeing the intelligence with which they conducted their boat and their men. It is not that simple. We did not break the boat. We sailed well. We hit something but we made no mistakes.
We are hoping to leave again this winter. There are roughly ten working days on the boat. We must make a complete check up as we sailed 30 days on this 40 meters multihull.
Since we decided to turn around, we have not stopped looking at St. Helena and the trajectory of the competitors in the Barcelona World Race and the one of Thomas Coville. We know very well that it is not fun for anybody to turn back. We weighed the pros and cons, but it was a good choice.' Juan Vila – skipper – off watch:
'It was a great experience, very intense moments of ups and down, as always in this type of race. Everything went really well. It's a shame but we are hoping to go back there soon. In my navigator role, I always spent a lot of time inside, making a bit of a virtual race on the computer. But I was also on deck to help for all maneuvers. It allowed me to see both parts of the navigation and given the desire to be leaving again. I know that after a day ashore, I'll be looking at the files, telling me: when are we going back? '. Yvan Ravussin : Watch leader – watch n°1:
'It was a great start from Brest on this first attempt. Whether the boat or the crew, it really was pure joy and our only wish is to go back there! We know that mechanical hazards are part of our sport but I really thought we were under cover on this kind of big boat. Even if it is not the first time I make repairs at sea, this one was really big! We must keep in mind that this first attempt was a perfect way to learn more about this machine and gives us an incredible urge to see what she can do on the whole tour'. Brian Thompson : Helmsman / Trimmer - watch n°1:
' I’m feeling perfect and not too tired! We have been sailing back for 14 days which obviously were not that fast because of the daggerboard and we were not on the edge on the delivery. It was the first time I was sailing for that long on this boat and I must say it has an incredible potential: to reach the Cap Verde in 3 days is quite impressive. It is just a shame we had to withdraw. I was at the helm when we hit the UFO and we were doing a really steady 37 knots and t was really beautiful night. It was not a huge impact and we did not think it was such a big thing. When we crossed the Equator I made a dedication of saucisson to Neptune but I’m not sure it was enough. I guess he was a bit angry I did not give him any French wine!' Thierry Chabagny : Helmsman / Trimmer - watch n°1:
'Thirty days at sea on a boat like that, it’s a very rich experience! They allowed me to learn a lot more on all the maneuvers, sail trim ... all the hours spent at the helm helped me developing sensitivities that I had not before leaving. I also realized that I really wanted to go back to try to finally finish this round the world we all dream about but still is very hard. Humanly, you realize it's like a small company and that concepts such as respect and listening are very important. It went really well between us. I did a lot of solitaire, and little crew. It's interesting to see in the eyes of others what you show. So you tend to try to do better, to correct even if the truth always comes out. I think we also all been 'chosen' for our ability to get along with others and there was no problem at all. We really shared every moment and it was a real treat! '. Pierre-Yves Moreau : Bowman - watch n°1:
'We were waiting to be in calmer waters to remove the daggerboard. We were really disappointed when we lifted it because it was heavily damaged. There was a lot of patch-up to do, some cutting with the means onboard. We cut nearly two meters of it, which allowed us to re-sail with the boat. The crew is good and well! I was very happy with my watch, it was complementary. We had fun but it was serious as well.' Fred Le Peutrec : Watch leader – watch n°2 :
'Having sailed thirty days on the boat with the crew are all assets for the future. There was no scratch, no complaint; we were all so disappointed when the collision happened. It's rare to get it on the first try. What you learn is acquired for the successful attempt. We did not attack the area in which you make the nicest memories, ie the south. But it's always a great pleasure to sail fast on a well balanced boat, to be at the helm with a machine that bursts at 37, 38, 40 knots in the middle of the night. These are real pleasures. It stopped too quickly but this is only a postponement. It's part of the exercise, it is not only a race but the frustration does not go beyond the bearable.' Emmanuel Le Borgne : Helmsman / Trimmer – watch n°2:
'The departure was very nice with perfect conditions to reach the Doldrums. We knew long before arriving to Equator that the South Atlantic would be complicated, but we kept a small hope that things would improve. The mechanical problem has unfortunately forced us to review our strategies and we have had to take the decision to withdraw. I was sleeping at the time of the shock but it was not that violent. We had already hit a whale on our way to New York which was much more violent. Paradoxically this transverse shock is has provoked much more damage. The delivery back nevertheless allowed us to continue in validating things on board, such as watches organization, maneuvers and it oddly went quite fast. In any case, this first attempt was too short but very meaningful. We arrived at the door of the South, which remained closed so we will quickly go and knock a second time. Erwan Tabarly : Helmsman / Trimmer – watch n°2:
' It's a great experience to sail on one of the fastest boats of offshore racing. It is a great honor and a great pleasure to sail with this crew. I enjoyed every moment as a great privilege. I have very nice memories even if we would have liked to finish it for sure. We must bounce back and we won’t stop there. There will be a sequel and it will be for next time. ' Ronan Lucas : Bowman – watch n°2:
'We nearly spent a month at sea and I have not seen it ! The first fifteen days have been a succession: The Canaries, Cape Verde, equator, the attack of the South, St. Helena ... it goes really fast and we are always focused on the next move. Then there's the disappointment that the record is lost. It is a lot of energy for a hazard that cannot be controlled. We had no success this time, next time we will. We do have satisfactions though, the boat goes fast, the crew is competent. We were 400 miles ahead when we withdrew, with no perfect conditions. There is disappointment because there was a lot of energy spent by the crew, the technical team and the sponsor who supports us for a long time. Everyone believes it. We have just touched the mythical moments of a round the world race and we would have liked to go further. ' Jérémie Beyou : Watch leader - watch n°3:
'The principle of the delivery is not to push the machine too far but we still want to see certain things at the same time. The question was therefore to know where to stop. It was interesting to see how we could sail fast with the boat, the closest possible to its maximum capacity but taking the daggerboard issue into account, to see how we get out there and record the data. This delivery has allowed us to talk more with others including those of other watches which we were just crossing over while racing. This human factor is on top of the stack of criteria for success. ' Kevin Escoffier: Helmsman / Trimmer - watch n°3:
' It was great! We saw that the boat was fast and I had a lot of fun. After a year and a half like we had, it feels really good to finally be leaving. It is obviously disappointing having to stop due to a daggerboard because expect that the boat has nothing at all. Those are unpredictable aspects of our sport and we have to take it as it is. We have to take the positive points out of this experience: the boat is in perfect conditions after 30 days at sea. Obviously we would have preferred to go further but this first attempt is a significant additional experience for a future departure. What impressed me most about this course are the first two days. We already had a fierce desire to go sailing, but we got super good conditions to go really fast. I have some beautiful memories of hours spent at the helm.' Xavier Revil : Helmsman / Trimmer - watch n°3
: ' First is the first time I spend that length of time at sea and I loved it! I am eager to go back. Everything went really well and I quickly got into my watch rhythm. The first night was a little difficult but you quickly adapt to the boat life and it give me a lot of confidence for the future. For my first crossing of the Equator, we had a little party on board. As we were fully concentrated in the race, it helped to have a pleasant moment altogether. I was in charge of the food on board and it went fine as well. There was no lack of anything but the only issue I faced was that it is not easy to satisfy everyone in terms of taste. As for the boat, we have learnt a lot and some improvements and adjustments will be made on the food. The most important is that everybody was happy. ' Florent Chastel : Bowman - watch n°3
: 'There really were only positive aspects during these 13 days of racing, apart from the collision with the UFO. The boat’s ability to go fast in little air is impressive and although the weather has not always been very supportive, we still managed to stay a bit ahead of the reference time during most of it. It was a good session which does not end the way we would have liked but we must now do everything in order to be leaving the soonest. In any case, the boat has the full potential to get this trophy.' Banque Populaire V website