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Manuel Cousin next, due Saturday - Merron talks of her Vendée Globe

by Vendée Globe 18 Feb 05:59 PST 18 February 2021

After the finish of Britain's Miranda Merron the next finisher on the Vendée Globe should be the French skipper Manuel Cousin, the 53 year old former motor industry executive who is expected to cross the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne first thing on Saturday morning.

Cousin has been nursing his IMOCA 60 Groupe Sétin since he suffered a broken keel ram 12 days ago in the NE'ly trade winds.

Isabelle Joschke and Sam Davies are now expected to arrive back to Les Sables d'Olonne on Tuesday 23rd February. Both are completing their round the world passage out of the race, but will doubtless be afforded a warm, respectful welcome next week.

But Merron took centre stage this morning. After a damp, breezy passage up the famous Les Sables d'Olonne channel today Miranda Merron spoke to the media and to guests of her sponsors Campagne de France.

Highlights of Miranda Merron's Press conference

Could you sum up your race in a few words?

Extraordinary and incredible.

Was this race as you expected?

I didn't know what to expect even though I had been in the big south four times. It was varied and complicated. I always knew it was going to be tough so really I suppose I was never surprised.

And did it satisfy your competitive instincts?

I tried to be competitive but while all the time still being conservative because our boat Campagne de France boat was not insured so the main goal was to complete the full circumnavigation and the bonus was to be able to have competitors behind me. So it was a real race, but with a big element of caution. I could have done better but that would be for another race!

What is the genesis of this program, most of all you wanted to sail non stop round the world or do the Vendée Globe?

Several years ago I wanted to do the Vendée Globe and I couldn't raise the necessary funds. Two years ago I wanted to attempt the round the world record with our 40 footer, but at that point Halvard told me that it would even be possible to go bigger and be more ambitious to go on an IMOCA. I also wanted to do this to thank my sponsor, Campagne de France, who have supported us for10 years, and I think there was no better way to do that than to have brought them them to the Vendée Globe.

You seemed to be always at one with your boat and happy to be at sea, perhaps more so than some skippers out there, didn't you feel very lonely during those 101 days?

Was I alone (laughs)? It's entirely my choice to go to do the Vendée Globe, nobody forced me, I was happy to go, so I might as well do it in the best of moods. I did not really have much down time. WhatsApp was something really revolutionary this year. It allowed us to stay connected with land, but also with the skippers at sea. We shared a lot of technical information, but also everyday things like birthdays! I really appreciated the solidarity that there was between us sailors in the race. Even if you are alone on board, you are not lonely at sea. And then it also allowed to keep connected with my friends. Every Friday night I had a 6pm date with Sam Davies for beer o'clock. I didn't have any beer on board so it was tea for me. Tomorrow, in solidarity with Sam who is still at sea, I will be connecting as usual.

What are you going to do next?

I really want to spend time with my friends, my family, my partners. I am very sad that they are not all here today. I will also sleep and eat a lot. I'm sorry, but I don't even know what I'll do this afternoon.

What is there that you know now that you wish you had known before you left?

I wish I knew more about how the entire electrical system works! I learned a little during the race, but I will have to continue my learning?

Did you have moments of doubt?

There were two storms where I was really scared and then I wondered what I was doing out there. But then we do choose to go to places we shouldn't go so we have to face the consequences.

Was there ever a typical day?

There is no typical day in the Vendée Globe. The weather and the condition of the boat dictate what happens each day. I tried to have breakfast before sunrise and two meals during the day. If the wind changed and I had to change sail then everything was moveable and would change. Until the finish I didn't deviate, I stayed focused. I forced myself to hold out and not to think about the finish. But for the past two days I have only wanted a beer! (Laughs)

Did you do any mental coaching or preparation or did Halvard coach you?

I'm 51 so if I don't know myself now, I'll never know myself. Sometimes you have to give yourself a bit of a mental kick. You have to know how to get back on it yourself. The times Halvard felt I was in a bad mood on the phone he would tell me he didn't want to talk to me so the problem was quickly resolved.

Do you think you will be back in 2024?

It's been barely 2 hours since I got back to land so I'll be more ready to talk about that this afternoon.

Do you have a specific recovery program?

Well not specifically but I just had a steak for my breakfast there so I'm already on the road. The first few days will be punctuated by a lot of sleep and a lot of meals as it is a very tiring race. The hardest part will be the psychological part as I move from a world of total freedom in which I lived for over 100 days to one filled with constraints. It is a very brutal transition.

Find out more...

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