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Meet the Vendée Globe skippers: Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ

by Vendee Globe 9 Jul 2020 02:56 PDT
Yannick Bestaven, Maître CoQ © Vendée Globe

Winning both legs of the Mini Transat and the race overall was the catalyst for Yannick Bestaven to really underline his potential as a sailor. He is renowned for pioneering and building hydrogenerators used throughot the IMOCA fleet. The environment? He says, 'actions speak louder than words'....We meet Yannick Bestaven.

General Info

Date of birth: December 28, 1972
Place of birth: Saint-Nazaire
Lives: La Rochelle

Further education and professional career outside of sailing: Engineering college, qualified in civil engineering. Held a job for three years with the Ministry of Equipment and then one year in La Rochelle before realising this kind of job was not for me.

In the Beginning

Your first sails, where, when, under what circumstances? Like many people, I started with an Optimist in the Arcachon basin. I quickly branched out on to a windsurfing board, I needed the sensation of speed. Then, I discovered racing keelboats and racer cruisers as a crew: First Class 8, J24, Tour de France à la Voile.

How did your passion for ocean racing come about? Actually I started solo sailing during a promotion for the Figaro class which was organized by the newspaper Le Télégramme. I can remember that the race committee forgot to put the Four lighthouse at the tip of Brittany in as mark of the course. So we all went inside through the rocks. For me who came from Arcachon that was a voyage of discovery!

But the real trigger, above all else was the Mini-Transat. Building your own boat and crossing the Atlantic alone in it is unforgettable.

When did it become a life project? It crept up on me little by little, especially thanks to the influence of Yves Parlier who took me under his wing a bit. But the Mini-Transat was a real eye-opener.

The result you are most proud of? Without a doubt my Mini-Transat in 2001. I won the two stages and therefore the race overall on a boat that I built myself. You can't do better in that race.

Tack Tack

Best quality in life? I am stubborn.
Main fault? I am stubborn.
If you were an animal? An eagle.
If you were a plant? A cactus. It's my spicy side.
If you were a movie? Deux heures moins le quart avant Jésus-Christ.
If you were music? I have a big weakness for the Doors.
Your color, Blue.
Your dream of happiness? It's complicated, I have so many. Live on an island, on a boat, in the Tropics.
Your hero in life. I do not have any. I don't see myself living with a role model.
An aphorism? No blablas, just results.
If you weren't an ocean racer, would you be? A Mountain guide: for being with nature, but also I am lover of the great outdoors.

The Vendee Globe 2020

Your ambitions on the Vendée Globe? Finish. Then I know I have a good boat, probably not the fastest. But finishing in an honorable place is also part of the objectives.

Weak points (that might otherwise prevent you from reaching your goal). There is one unknown: I have never sailed in the Southern Oceans. And I really don't know how I'm going to adapt to solo sailing for so long. Am I going to enjoy it all?

Your secret weapon? Besides being stubborn, I think I have a great capacity to be super resilient I know I have a strong mind, especially in difficult conditions. It is no coincidence that I have completed almost all of the races in which I have participated.

What would a successful Vendée Globe be for you? If I can give back what I experienced to all those who supported me, my partner, my team, my loved ones, my family, my children, then I can say that my Vendée Globe is successful. Finishing is one thing, but if I arrive with the feeling that I have been able to make the most of the potential of my boat, that I have made good strategies and choices and that in the end, I will finish with the best possible result, then yes, that will be a success.

On the race what do you want to share? A Vendée Globe is a whole life full of emotions. I would like to help transmit all of that Maître CoQ's collaborators, to all those who are supporting the boat, the sheer willpower that I will have to want to overcome the trials, all these intense moments, the human adventure and the love I have for competition. But I'm not the type to reveal everything right away. I think if I have setbacks or problems I will tell about them, but probably after I resolve them.

The Vendée Globe in three words? An accelerated slice of life, commitment, a constant investment both personal and professional.

Three images you have of VG? The rescue of Philippe Poupon by Loïck Peyron, Yves Parlier who rebuilt his mast and finished his Vendée Globe and the interview with Christophe Auguin after his victory in 1996 where he said that it would be foolish to return a second time.

Which skipper inspires you? Difficult question, there are many. I think I would choose Loïck Peyron. He has a real intelligent way of life. He has a way of explaining things, of simplifying problems. Like all of us, he must have doubts, but he does not let them show. One has the impression that he does not take the lead, that he does not need to change his lifestyle to achieve his goals, and that he knows how to avoid going into the red...

You wouldn't go around the world without? Nothing special... except my boots (laughs). No, I have no charms, no special emotional stuff. Because if you ever lose your lucky charm, it becomes a drama.

Do you have environmental or scientific initiatives on this world tour? This is the kind of thing where I tell myself that actions speak louder than words. With my hydrogenerators, I contribute to making the Vendée Globe boats less and less dependent on fossil fuels. So I make sure I act for the environment. Otherwise, we are developing a system to produce ultrasound to make sea mammals flee. Colliding with a whale is dangerous for the boat, but above all it is most often fatal for the animal. We are working on it and we hope to achieve an effective result.

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