Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik 2021 New Season LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe: Isabelle Joschke talks to the IMOCA Class about meditation, good food and life

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA 23 Dec 2020 22:49 PST
Isabelle Joschke - Vendée Globe © Isabelle Joschke / MACSF

Anyone who has followed Isabelle Joschke's progress from Figaro racing to Class 40s and then IMOCA Class competition, will not have been surprised to see her tenacious and competitive performance in this Vendée Globe.

The 43-year-old Franco-German skipper based in Lorient has been doing an excellent job keeping her 2007-vintage IMOCA up with the leading pack, having climbed from the mid-teens in the south Atlantic to the top-10 in the Southern Ocean.

Right now Joschke lies in eighth position just under 600 miles behind the leader, Yannick Bestaven, as she continues on her easterly heading just north of the ice exclusion zone about 600 miles due south of Invercargill in New Zealand.

The IMOCA Class caught up with Joschke to get her impression of this great adventure in her life as she looks to complete her first solo circumnavigation of the planet on board MACSF.

Having recovered from a series of setbacks in the Atlantic, including the loss of part of her pushpit when a gennaker block tore off, she is delighted to be - as she put it - back in the match.

"I am so happy to be back in the top-10," she said. "After a difficult start and descent in the Atlantic, it feels great to be in the match and back in the competition".

"But at the same time, it is not always easy to maintain the rhythm. There are moments when I am going fast and I am really on it and moments when I am tired or moments when I need to repair and maintain the boat, so there is a bit of everything."

Joschke is a competitive individual. In the Atlantic she had to stop her boat a couple of times to carry out repairs and it annoyed her to see rivals sail on by. However, she is also trying to retain her focus on ensuring she gets round, all the way to the finish.

"I try to mentally break away from the race a bit, which allows me to unwind and also not push the boat too hard," she explained. "I have been trying to keep to my initial intention at the start, which was to reach the finish without breaking my boat - to race wisely, I guess."

We asked what life on board MACSF has been like and Joschke revealed that she has been practising mediation to help herself relax. This was not the original plan but the MACSF skipper has mislaid her e-reader tablet somewhere in the boat, so her passion for the written word is permanently on hold. At the same time, power issues on the boat means she also cannot listen to music, another pleasure she would normally indulge in.

"I don't have many moments to escape, so this has forced me to mediate," she explained. "I don't usually mediate on board as the boat moves around all the time and that is hard. But this has allowed me to escape from the race a bit."

Another distraction and source of enjoyment for her is the food on board which Joschke says is of excellent quality, even if it is freeze-dried. "I have been on board for one-and-a-half months and still I don't complain about what I have to eat," she said. "I have fun cooking; when I have five minutes between manoeuvres, I can make a small desert or something to change things a little. That is what I enjoy."

Joschke shared a vivid description of the southern Indian Ocean as she tackled it for the first time. "I was incredibly surprised by it," she said, "by the brutal winds and the sea state. For several days the conditions were very difficult, making life hard on board and very tiring physically".

"I found the Southern Ocean as people said it would be," she added, "magnificent colours, a wild ocean, a beautiful swell. But I didn't expect, or I never thought, the sailing would be so difficult."

On that point she says she has completely changed the way she sails her boat to take account of the conditions in the big south and to maintain her focus on trying to preserve her gear for the entire race.

"Each manoeuvre is thought through," she said. "When I unroll a sail, I do it slowly, something which we never do normally. I do everything slowly; I am trying to slow down the sailing and the manoeuvres, so as to be sure not to put a strain on the boat."

And all the while her focus is on getting past Cape Horn. "I am trying to see the Southern Ocean as a passage and when I reach the end it will be like a new start," said the woman who is on course to become only the seventh female skipper to complete the Vendée Globe. (The others are Catherine Chabaud, Ellen MacArthur, Anne Liardet, Karen Leibovici, Sam Davies and Dee Caffari).

Find out more...

Related Articles

Boris Herrmann and Team Malizia announce plans
Set to participate in The Ocean Race 2022/23 and Vendée Globe 2024/25 Building on the successful 4yr campaign which culminated in a 5th place in the Vendée Globe and created strong enthusiasm and media impact in Germany, France and 70 other countries around the globe, Boris and his team are embarking on a new 5yr programme. Posted on 13 May
This is North Sails
The team, the tools, and the technology You can imagine the future or you can be a part of it. Lowell North decided to be a part of it, and lead it. When he started North Sails, Lowell North's philosophy was simple...get the best people and commit yourself to make the best product. Posted on 12 May
Collisions at sea
Class IMOCA and the Pôle Mer launch a Call for Expressions of Interest (CEI) Class IMOCA is working to rally together the skills of the marine industry in a bid to break even more new ground in its search for solutions geared towards improving safety for sailors and the preservation of biodiversity. Posted on 10 May
Relay4Nature: The Mission
A healthy ocean is fundamental to life on Earth A healthy ocean is fundamental to life on Earth. It's our life support system, producing over half of the planet's oxygen and providing food for billions of people. Posted on 9 May
European Commission Patron of Ocean Race Europe
Sustainability is integrated into The Ocean Race's DNA Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Commissioner with responsibility for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, has been announced as the Patron of the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe. Posted on 8 May
The Ocean Race launches Relay4Nature
Shining a spotlight on ocean leaders, innovators and advocates An initiative of The Ocean Race, Relay4Nature will involve a baton passing from team to team, shining a spotlight on ocean leaders, innovators and advocates. Posted on 7 May
All you need to know about the new IMOCA rules
A limit on foil size, measures to reduce environmental impact and contain costs The updated IMOCA rule seeks to limit foil size and limit environmental impact and to contain costs. The new rules which are in force until 2025 were unveiled by the IMOCA Class last week. Posted on 7 May
The Ocean Race announces communications partner
Inmarsat to power The Ocean Race with its cutting-edge technology Exclusive agreement will deliver advanced digital content capabilities, safety services and onboard connectivity for The Ocean Race Europe 2021 and The Ocean Race 2022-23 Posted on 5 May
Vendée Globe - On course for 2024
A starter for 10... they have done it before and already said 'yes' The huge wave of enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe during and after the last edition means there are more and more solo skippers intimating their plans to do the next race which will start November 2024. Posted on 4 May
Interview with Catherine Chabaud MEP
First female Vendée skipper now cares for ocean health Back In 1997 Catherine Chabaud became the first female sailor to complete the Vendée Globe, taking sixth place and in so doing becoming the first woman to race solo non stop around the world without assistance. Posted on 28 Apr
North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterHella Dual Colour Floodlights - 728 x 90px - 6 jpg BottomSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 Bottom