Charlie Dalin, the Vendée Globe sailor-pilot-architect

The star of the Vendée Globe, it is not yet him, first in the class, but Jean Le Cam, dean of the race and lifeguard, on the night of Monday November 30 to Tuesday 1is December, of the castaway Kevin Escoffier.

→ READ. Kevin Escoffier rescued by Jean Le Cam, the castaway rescuer

A handsome player and above all a little reassured to have crossed the Cape of Good Hope without incident despite the dire weather, the Vendée Globe leader willingly bows out to King John. “Kudos to him and the others who got confused to pick up Kevin, it’s a huge relief. For my part, I now sail in the Indian Ocean, which has welcomed me ”, Charlie Dalin said a few hours after the announcement of Kevin Escoffier’s rescue.

After Cape Town, we can say that we have “done” the Vendée

Superstition of sailor, he had refused to comment, with a few hours in advance, the crossing of the Cape, during an interview with The cross organized in anticipation of this symbolic moment. It took him well, because he hung up just before the news of his colleague’s sinking. Charlie Dalin found himself deprived of a legitimate celebration. Because all the great sailors say, once you have crossed the Cape of Good Hope, you can claim to have “done” the Vendée Globe. Sailors who have stopped before, by choice or damage, cannot claim this virtual decoration, which Le Havre now displays in its buttonhole.

This distinction will allow him to reject the label of pilot of the seas that some old wolves of the oceans have stuck to him. The same people who treated with arrogance a few years ago François Gabart or Armel Le Cléac’h of engineers of the seas. “I do not even understand what we are talking about here, right now believe that it is my seaworthiness which is in action”, He explains from the cockpit of his monohull, tossed about by breaking waves in a 40 knot (75 km / h) wind. He leads him to the economy, hoping to escape the misadventures of his main competitors for the final victory, Jérémie Beyou, Thomas Rettant and Alex Thomson. And of course Kevin Escoffier, who was racing to snatch second place from Thomas Rettant at the time of his accident.

“I navigate in the sixth sense, listening to my boat”

At the beginning of the Indian Ocean, while the ice looms on the horizon, no more piloting. His talent as a coxswain-sailor-maker of the Formula 1 seas that contemporary monohulls have become is no longer of much use. “I navigate in the sixth sense, listening to my boat”, indicates the one who has chosen not to embark on distractions, in order to stay focused on his race.

→ READ. Vendée Globe foilers are already distancing themselves

No books on board, a USB stick lost somewhere with series or films, a soundtrack reduced to a minimum on his mobile phone. That’s all. “My only distraction is sleep, which is essential for recovery, and the dreams that I remember when I wake up and which have sometimes taken me on a trip very far from the Vendée Globe”, he recounts.

“When I start a race, it’s to win it”

Entirely focused on performance, this Havre graduate in naval architecture is, at the age of 36, the best student of recent years at the offshore racing training center of Port-la-Forêt (Finistère), which launched on the waves an armada of sailing celebrities. Armel Le Cléac’h, François Gabart or Jérémie Beyou all sat on the benches of this school of excellence directed by Christian Le Pape, father-in-law of… Charlie Dalin.

“Do not think that he gave me secrets about my competitors to give me an advantage, it is not in his values, but it is true that he taught me a lot, particularly in the way to set up a project ”, explains the skipper, without missing an opportunity to quote the name of his boat and the sponsor, the mutual Apivia, a newcomer to the world of ocean racing (1).

The job that comes in… Allied to the gnaque: “ I want to bring Apivia back to safe harbor in good condition, this is the priority, he said. But I remain a competitor, and when I start a race, it’s to win it. I want to come full circle first, and more if affinities. But with the “plums” that I’m going to take (a series of depressions is announced all week, Editor’s note), the road is still very long. “

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Kevin Escoffier, the Vendée Globe castaway will have to wait

According to Vendée Globe race director Jacques Caraës, who spoke on Tuesday 1is December, Kevin Escoffier could stay on board the boat of his rescuer Jean Le Cam for several days. No doubt until December 7, when it could be recovered by a French Navy boat, The Nivose. This hypothesis poses many technical and regulatory problems. Even if one can imagine a code of good conduct on the part of a Kevin Escoffier not participating in any maneuver and not giving any advice, Jean Le Cam is no longer alone on board. Likewise, it runs the risk of running out of food reserves in the long term. The race committee will have to address all these questions in the coming days.

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