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Meet the Vendée Globe skippers: Manuel Cousin

by Vendee Globe 27 Sep 20:44 PDT
Vendée Globe skippers Manuel Cousin © Vendee Globe

He is a business executive who is chasing his dream, after 20 years in the motor industry he moved to Les Sables d'Olonne to further his IMOCA project as he transitioned to full time sailor.

He has taken all the logical steps on the classical pathway through Class40 on the key Transatlantic races always supported by Groupe Setin. Now he is ready for the big one. Meet Manu Cousin.


Date of birth: 10th July 1967
Place of birth: Rouen
Residence: Les Sables d'Olonne

Studies and career outside of sailing Technical diploma in industrial robotics maintenance. 10 years as head of maintenance for a company supplying car parts 20 years in sales for Toyota.

Early years

Your first sailing trip: where, when and under what circumstances?

On an Optimist in the bay off Saint-Brieuc at the age of five. My uncle was a sailing instructor in Saint-Briac and over the month I learnt how to sail with my cousins.

How and why did you want to take up ocean racing?

When I went to Race Villages with my parents. At the Route du Rhum for example.

When and why did this become your main ambition in life?

In 2010 when I raced across the Atlantic for the first time and then in 2014 when I acquired a Class 40. I really understood that it was what I wanted to do and I did what was required to enable my passion to become my career.

Which result or experience are you proudest of?

My first Transat Jacques Vabre on a class 40 in 2015. I was seventh out of around twenty boats taking part.

Q & A session

What is your strongest quality?

Perseverance and optimism, determination...

Your main weakness?

I am very sensitive.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

An albatross, a symbol of freedom... they feel better at sea than on dry land.

If you were a plant?

A palm tree.

If you were a film?

The Dead Poets Society.

Or a piece of music?

Eye of the Tiger.

A colour?


What would make you happiest?

What I am currently going through. I am savouring every minute.

Who is your hero?

My father.

Your favourite aphorism?

You need to live your dreams and not dream your life away.

If you were not an ocean racer, what would you be?

A sportsman in any case.

Vendée Globe 2020

Your ambitions in the 2020 Vendée Globe:

Weaknesses (what would prevent you from reaching your goal apart from damage):

My goal is to complete the race, so apart from suffering damage, only a major health problem could stop me from achieving my goal.

Your lethal weapon:


What would make this Vendée Globe a success for you?

Finishing in a position that matches the potential of the boat.

What would you like to share?

I want to share and convey the values supported by my partners, new emotions, various moments during the race.

In three words, what does the Vendée Globe mean to you:

A legendary race.

Three pictures you remember of the Vendée Globe:

Ellen MacArthur 2nd in the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe after her duel with Michel Desjoyeaux; Yann Elies's accident in the 2008 VG; Loïck Peyron's videos in the 89-90 Vendée Globe on Lada Poch, which are incredible to watch.

Which skipper most inspires you?

Ellen MacArthur for what she did and her determination.

What are you certain of taking with you around the world?


Environmental/scientific measures for this round the world race:

Favouring clean energy to charge up the batteries on the boat: a wind turbine, 2 hydrogenerators. UNESCO Ambassador for the IMOCA class.

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