Please select your home edition
J Composites 2022 - J99 LEADERBOARD

The dream builders

by Vendee Globe 16 Jan 02:53 PST
Vendee Globe - Isabelle Joschke - MACSF © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Putting together all of the building blocks which form a successful Vendée Globe project is a seemingly endless task. Over the next few weeks we will look at some of the key people who perform vital roles behind the scenes and how they came to be the catalysts which made the projects work.

Take Isabelle Joschke and Benjamin Dutreux who went from dream to start line by taking different routes and accompanied by different supporters. In the case of Joschke she had past race winner Alain Gautier in her corner whilst the Dutreux campaign had family and friends as the cornerstones.

Franco-German Joschke, the MACSF sailor and the Vendée region's OMIA - Water Family skipper Dutreux recall some of the early meetings which proved to be a vital catalyst.

Alain Gautier, project manager

"It's not easy to say when the project actually started," says Isabelle Joschke. "The first time I thought about it was when people from the offshore racing industry, who potentially had partners up their sleeves came up with the idea. That was a way back when I had just finished my first Mini-Transat, in 2005. Previously, I hadn't even really thought about it. I was just wondering if I was going to do the Mini again. This proposal sowed the first tiny seed, but it was too early for me: I had to build my career experience first."

For Joschke the pathway to the start was paved with big intentions, great meetings with project activators but also with a fair share of disappointments. Approached by Luc Talbourdet, then boss of Absolute Dreamer, Jean-Pierre Dick's offshore racing team, the dream of racing the Vendée Globe 2012 was ignited. But despite all their joint efforts it did not succeed. "I parked the idea and continued back with the Figaro circuit," says the sailor. "I tried more on my own for 2016 by creating Horizon Mixité, to promote diversity and give my project a clear identity. From 2011 to 2013, I had a bit of a difficult spell in terms of sponsorship. But then I met Generali, who supported be on the Figaro for the next two seasons. I was very happy. And, when really I was not asking for any more than what I had when Alain Gautier (1992-93 Vendée Globe winner who runs Sensation Ocean and promoter-manager of sailing projects, editor's note) and Generali together offered me the Vendée Globe 2020."

Joschke did not race in Generali colours in 2020-2021. The general management of Generali changed and so did their sponsorship projects. But on the recommendation of Eric Lombard, the former Managing Director of Generali, Joschke and Gautier contacted MACSF at the start of 2018. In the meantime Joschke raced in the colours of Monin a client of Gautier's who coached Olivier Monin on the water. At the end of 2018 they have a second meeting with MACSF.

"With Alain, we presented ourselves to MACSF as we are not promising the moon and stars. That is not our way of being. Honestly I had already pretty much turned the page. But on their part, during those long months, MACSF had given careful thought to the project and to the identity that the company wanted to give to the adventure. Alain had really worked it all out well."

For Benjamin Dutreux, the Vendée Globe was "probably a long held dream that I grew up with but I always kind of thought it was a bit too inaccessible for me. The idea solidified after my fourth Solitaire du Figaro, it was then that I felt credible. I then asked the big question to my brother (Marcel-Junior, president of Eole Performance, the boatyard of the Dutreux brothers, editor's note), and to Alice (Potiron, communications and sponsorship project coordinator, editor's note)

'Me and the Vendée Globe is it a weird idea or not?"

Benjamin Dutreux's course to the Vendée Globe was swift

As soon as his brother and long time friend Potiron had embraced the idea of the project, they got straight down to looking for partners.

"We wondered who we should partner with and we started by talking to my sponsors from the Figaro just keeping them informed and to take advantage of their advice. We already knew that they might not be our main partners for the Vendée Globe. But they encouraged us, made sure we were pitching the right ideas and messages and offered contacts. We continued with the production of proposals and fine tuning our positioning and strategy. For me that meant stopping my sailing career: when you're looking for big sponsors, you don't have time to race the Solitaire. We quickly noticed that to be taken seriously we needed to have a boat. I contacted Kojiro Shiraishi, who was selling his."

Surrounded by a small team of three to four multiskilled hard-core individuals, "Operation Dutreux" took shape and in this case the skipper was the jack of all trades. "Like any entrepreneur, we have to look after everything: technical stuff, communication, finding partners, boatwork. It's a real tough business getting started whilst at the same time you are the face, the figurehead of the project as well as being the real day to day manager. Dutreux remembers the "entrepreneurial stress" from this period, the real financial stress of risk-taking (buying the boat as much as the risk leading the the team). "I like adrenaline, but living that kind of tension every day is not easy."

His first main partner suddenly withdrew because of the first stage of the health crisis but Dutreux found Omia as a new sponsor. His project for the Vendée Globe mobilized between thirty and forty people, between the yard, relatives, supporters who lend a hand and suppliers.


Episode 2: The CEO Who Has the Final Say
Episode 3: Team Manager, what a job
Episode 4: Business Provider
Episode 5: The banker, only money talks

Related Articles

Dalin: "The year couldn't have started better"
With victory in the IMOCA Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race Charlie Dalin (Apivia) won the third edition of the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race which in fact is his first solo victory in IMOCA and his fourth overall IMOCA race win since 2019 in all different formats combined. Posted on 22 May
25 skippers for Vendée Arctic-Les Sables d'Olonne
A race of discovery to the northern waters of the Arctic Circle Alain Leboeuf, President of SAEM Vendée and the Department of Vendée has just presented the skippers of the second edition of the Vendée Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne, more than 2 years from the 10th edition of the Vendée Globe. Posted on 20 May
2020 Vendée Globe skippers grand parade
Taking place on the Remblai in Les Sables d'Olonne on Friday 3rd June To launch the summer season, the festivities will begin on Friday 3rd June 2022 with the Grand Parade of the 2020 Vendée Globe Skippers, to celebrate these men and women of the sea. Posted on 14 May
The dream makers - Episode 4
Marrying up skippers and sponsors It is a long and mostly difficult path to the start line of the Vendée Globe and not everyone makes it. Here is number four in our series of those team members who work behind the curtain in a while variety of different roles Posted on 21 Apr
Vendée Arctique: Two months to go
Skippers will leave Les Sables d'Olonne and head north towards icy waters of the Arctic Circle At 5:00 pm on Sunday 12th June 2022 will be given the start of the Vendée Arctique, the first chapter of the Vendée Globe 2024 adventure. Posted on 13 Apr
The vanguard of a new generation
Harayda sets his course for the 2024 Vendée Globe In a few days time young British skipper James Harayda will take over his new IMOCA 60, Stéphane Le Diraison's 2007Groupe Finot designed and built A Time For Oceans, and his ambition of taking on the 2024 Vendée Globe takes one enormous step forward. Posted on 3 Apr
Twice as many cellulose fibres as microplastics
Fabrice Amedeo collected 53 samples using the microplastics sensor fitted aboard his sailboat A study by three French institutes: Ifremer, the University of Bordeaux and the IRD (a public research institution), reveals that the surface water of the Atlantic Ocean is twice as polluted by cellulose fibres as it is by microplastics. Posted on 2 Apr
Éric Bellion creating thefirst Vendée Globe “team”
One of the best rookies of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe returns Now, just these past days having turned 46, Eric Bellion - who was one of the best rookies of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe - is is off and running again. Posted on 21 Mar
NOR for Vendée Arctique 2022 is published
IMOCA skippers will leave from Port Olona on June 12th The President of SAEM Vendée, the organisers of the Vendée Arctique and the Vendée Globe, publish the Notice of Race detailing the rules for participation in the Vendée Arctique - the first qualifying race for the Vendée Globe 2024 Posted on 18 Mar
Rodolphe Sepho on the long course to Vendée Globe
From growing up on his native Guadeloupe Rodolphe Sepho is 36 year old sailor from Guadeloupe who has Vendée Globe as his next major target, a big step up from solo Route du Rhum which he has completed 3 times now a mythical race which of course links Saint Malo with his native Caribbean island. Posted on 5 Mar
Hyde Sails 2021 - Basic FOOTERABC Recruiting BTMHenri-Lloyd M-PRO FOOTER SW