What's Sébastien Josse up to before he sets sail on the Vendée Globe?
On 6 November, Sébastien Josse will take the start of the Vendée Globe for the third time. In so doing, the skipper of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild is also setting sail on his fifth round the world in 14 years. As such, the sailor can rely on a vast amount of experience, bolstered by all the expertise of Gitana Team, the offshore racing stable founded in 2000 by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild. However, how do you best prepare for such an adventure? It's a question that can be answered in a thousand ways given how complex these boats have become and how much pressure the sailors will be under for over 75 days. With two weeks to go until the boat has to be delivered to Les Sables d'Olonne the competitors compelled to be moored in Port Olona by 14 October at the latest -, the skipper and his team are putting into action what is essentially over three years' work. Every one of them is ticking off their respective jobs list and though technically the die is cast, there are still a few last decisions to make, notably with regards to what Sébastien will carry aboard.
Before heading out to the open ocean, the skipper has his feet firmly on the ground. His schedule is meticulous but it respects the needs of the sailor, who is keen not to tire himself out before time. He kicked off this week with a final visit to the Multiplast yard in Vannes where the GitanaMaxi a 33m trimaran due for launch in the summer of 2017 is currently in build. The central hull has just been sealed, along with the aft beam. All the large carbon parts will soon be complete. The assembly of the platform and the mast (at Lorima) will be done over the winter, whilst Sébastien races around the planet. I feel very lucky, the sailor admits. It makes me want to loop the loop even quicker! It's added motivation for the Vendée Globe knowing that, back on shore, another boat is being created, that a project is taking shape and that the whole of Gitana Team is working so passionately towards this latest technological challenge.
In sailing terms, Sébastien has been participating in the training sessions organised by the Pôle Finistère Course au Large in Brittany's Port-la-Forêtwith a number of his future rivals. A venue for competition and the honing of skills, these days of racing, complemented by several nights at sea, warm up the machines a little. The rhythm of the manœuvres for example is higher than that which awaits us on the scale of a round the world. We're setting off on a marathon not a sprint. Nevertheless, it's good to see during these training sessions that things are working well aboard, says the skipper, who's been sailing at the Pôle since his first tacks on a Figaro in the late nineties. Next up, in the Défi Azimut (an Imoca race organised in Lorient last weekend), we got a chance to see that the foilers' are able to make better headway upwind than they did a few months ago. As such, we've managed to make up the gap in performance, but we mustn't get ahead of ourselves as these shore sprints are a far cry from what awaits us on a day-to-day basis in a Vendée Globe.
Finally, the future solo sailor will share a few flights in crewed configuration aboard thefive-arrow stable's GC32 at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Indeed, Edmond de Rothschild Group is partnering the event for the fourth consecutive year. Within this idyllic setting, the foiling catamaran is capable of flying in less than 10 knots of breeze and is the only craft of its kind in the bay of Pampelonne. A great opportunity then for Gitana Team to promote this innovative sailing, which now extends to offshore racing as well as inshore. Sébastien Josse will be at Les Voiles for two days from tomorrow, Friday 30 September.
- 30 September-1 October: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez with the GC32 Edmond de Rothschild
- 13-14 October: arrival of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild in Les Sables d'Olonne.
- 15 October: opening of the Gitana, entering into the legend exhibition, at the heart of the Vendée Globe race village in Les Sables d'Olonne.
- 5 November: 09:00 GMT: skippers' briefing
- 6 November: 12:02 GMT, start of the Vendée Globe