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Meet the Vendée Globe skippers: Sébastien Simon

by Vendee Globe 11 Oct 06:14 PDT
Vendée Globe skippers Sébastien Simon © Vendée Globe

He is the Les Sables d'Olonne born and bred hometown hope. His grandmother lives across the road from the Vendée Globe pontoon. His overall victory on La Solitaire du Figaro in 2018 was the platform to step up to the IMOCA class and mount a Vendée Globe programme.

He is mentored and the campaign managed by 2004-5 race winner Vincent Riou and, despite losing time to foil problems, he is one of the outstanding sailors of his generation who remains one of the podium hopefuls on Arkea Paprec. Meet Sébastien Simon.


Born May 6, 1990 in La Roche sur Yon
Lives in Sables d'Olonne

My Journey

Studies and professional career outside of sailing: I went to college to study structural and composite engineering in Bordeaux. I completed my apprenticeship diploma with Yves Parlier on the powering of merchant ships by kite. For two years, I lived in Arcachon. It was awesome. I had a roommate who is one of my best friends, Marc Noesmoen. We worked together, we sailed together and in the evening, we went surfing in Biscarosse, it was a great time of my life.

In the beginning:

My first sailing: I don't even remember when it was. It was on my dad's Feeling 920 from home in Les Sables d'Olonne. Every summer, we went cruising for a week to 10 days. Then at around 12-13 years old, I started competing in Optimist. I continued in 420, where I was third in the world championships in 2013. Later, I continued in sports keelboats with several podiums in the French national championships. During my studies, I sailed on weekends. I was less involved but still just as passionate. After my two years of apprenticeship, there was the CMB Figaro selection. I left everything to participate in this selection. But I completed my contract and my engineering degree while I was at the Pôle Finisterre Course au Large.

How / why did your desire to go ocean racing come about? I've always loved it. I followed the Solitaire du Figaro and of course the Vendée Globe: my grandmother lives opposite the pontoon. One day, I thought about doing the Mini 6.50. I had made the prologue to a race off Les Sables with Antho Marchand, I was 12 years old and we got 2nd together. But really it all kicked off with the Brittany CMB programme.

Why and when did it become a life project? It was my dream but finding sponsors seemed fanciful. It was when I set out on the CMB selection that I realised wanted to make it my life, my career. Thinking about a Vendée Globe project was for me always a target, the goal that made me want to get better and better in the Figaro. I always need to see the next step to improve and stay focused.

A result or experience that you are most proud of? My win in the Solitaire du Figaro, by far. I wanted to win it. It was never cut and dried. I had the feeling that I was sailing well, in control of things, and was mentally strong. And so then this is my best result.

Short Tacks

Your main quality in life? The determination
What is your main flaw in life? Impatience
If you were an animal? A cheetah
If you were a plant? A palm
If you were a movie? Straight Outta Compton
A book ? I only read at sea. I'll take 10 books. My girlfriend makes the selection for me....
If you were some music? Eminem, Sing for the moment. I listen to a bit of everything. But rap, it motivates me
Your colour? Blue
Your dream of happiness? My life right now
Your hero in life? Batman
An aphorism or saying? It is not over until the line is crossed

If you weren't an ocean racer, would you be? Entrepreneur in an industry where I would work closely with people.

My Vendee Globe 2020

Your ambitions for the Vendée Globe 2020: To finish, let's be realistic. If not I would have a really hard time getting over it. After that, a top 5 or a podium would be excellent.

What would prevent you from reaching your goal (apart from the damage): Nothing

Your lethal weapon: My determination

What would a successful Vendée Globe be for you? To arrive without regret, having given the maximum of myself, after that to get a an honourable place, having done the best with what I have. I'd like to be in the match from start to finish. I wouldn't like to be in the depths of the fleet. I would hate to be isolated, away from any competitor to challenge.

What do you want to share? My adventure, my dream, to tell what I feel, the hard times as well as the good times.

In three words, the Vendée Globe for you is: My dream, emblematic, a personal challenge

Three images you have of the Vendée Globe: The finishes of François and Armel in 2013, it's the race that fascinates me and the match at the front of the fleet.

Which skipper inspires you? Francois Gabart. He's got his head on his shoulders, he's a nice, approachable, super talented guy. He wins at the first attempt. He never loses face, he has strong convictions, he is a visionary entrepreneur. Of the new generation of sailors he embodies a lot of things for me.

What would you not go around the world without? :Something to clear my mind: book, music video, things like that. And sweets! For morale they are important.

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