With her 2007 boat not fitted with foils, her small budget of less than a million euros and, let’s face it, her 61 springs, many had put her aside. Fifteen days after the start of the Vendée Globe, the oldest solo round-the-world sailor without stopovers or assistance continues to impress with his science of navigation and his impeccable trajectories.
In the leading peloton from the start, long second behind favorite Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) even had the luxury of leading the race for nearly 24 hours between the Canaries and Cape Verde, before logically giving way to the Welshman and his pursuers, all equipped with flying boats, foils, advantaged in the ‘trade wind. The only monohull with daggerboards in the top 10, the Breton continued, this Sunday, its descent in the Atlantic towards the Great South.
A weather specialist who braves storms
In two weeks of racing, the Finistérien, who completed his military service at age 21 aboard the Pen Duick-VI Éric Tabarly during the Whitbread 1981 (crewed round-the-world trip with stopovers), showed that he still had it in his stomach. While the fleet turned its back after having endured two violent depressions, Jean Le Cam did not depart from his ease and his offbeat sense of humor. “We are still four days away from the race and I am at the same time as the group of foilers, he wondered on November 12. It just goes to show that we always plan a lot of things, we gargle, we do blah-blah in the newspapers… The other day, I was told: “Saying well makes you laugh, well silences.” I wanted to write it down in my boat. Behind, I will see them spinning, the foilers. But as long as we do, papi is resisting! “
I ate a cassoulet this morning, I found the cassoulet to go well with depression! This is our culture in Brittany.
A weather specialist, the three-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro did not hesitate to cross tropical storm Theta in its center with Alex Thomson, even if it means being shaken a little by hollows of 6 meters and gusts of 50 to 60 knots, while the fleet rounded the obstacle. “I ate a cassoulet this morning, I thought the cassoulet went well with depression! he says during his radio session with the race PC. It does not go with the high pressure but rather with the depression. This is our culture in Brittany. Otherwise, I have sweetbread to make but I will wait a bit… ” A winning weather option that allowed the man nicknamed “King John” to then head straight for Ecuador.
Asked the same day, Alex Thomson still couldn’t get over it: “Going through the depression like that is the best route, but as soon as you get into these kinds of conditions, it’s survival, explains the 2nd in the last Vendée Globe. Jean Le Cam comes closer to me. My God, he’s amazing. To be where he is with this boat and at his age is brilliant! “
Communication, foilers … innovations that worry
The skipper knows the route well, as they say. This is the fifth time that he has raced the Vendée Globe, a record in this area. Since his first participation in 2004-2005, where he missed victory by a hair after overtaking Cape Horn with 250 miles ahead of Vincent Riou, who will finally arrive 6 hours and 33 minutes before him at Les Sables-d ‘ Olonne, Jean Le Cam saw this race evolve. He who is never stingy with a good word has trouble with the regulations which now impose a quota of videos and images to be respected, otherwise the recalcitrant sailor will have to pay a fine of 5,000 euros. ” I do not understand that, He explained to us on the phone a few days before departure. We have more and more obligations. You don’t have to force people, it has to happen naturally. With each edition, we move more and more towards absurd penalties. The most incredible thing is that we are the ones who film, send the images and finance the communications… ” He fears a perverse effect. “Communication, OK, but after a while, if you have nothing to say, people are not going to be wrong, warns the winner of the Barcelona World Race 2014 (non-stop double-handed round the world). Communication is used to communicate and not to do anything … Today, you eat chewing gum on board, you have to let everyone know. “
Our boats are already complicated enough like that for solo sailing, we have a tipping keel, ballasts, etc. We are still all options. It’s a lot for one man.
The technical progress of the boats which now fly (19 foilers out of the 33 competitors) above the waves questions him. “The evolution has been very strong in recent years with arcuate foils, other horizontal ones, there are all the models … I think it still takes time to validate all that. For the moment, I am fine where I am with my daggerboard ”, underlines the one who, by lightening his sailboat of 500 kilos, aims for the podium of this “category”. And add: “Our boats are already complicated enough like that for solo sailing, we have a tipping keel, ballasts, etc. We are still all options. It’s a lot for one man. If in addition it becomes difficult to live on board, you have to ask yourself questions. The impacts of the hulls at high speed on the waves are violent. The skippers say: “We live with a helmet, knee pads, we crawl… “Oh my, my poor people! I wouldn’t like it. We would have to put things back on track if we decide within the Imoca class to go to foils. We will think better on arrival. “
“I’m going back because the desire is still there”
Jean Le Cam remains attached to this race and yet the Vendée Globe has not always been kind to him. In 2008, she capsized 200 miles from Cape Horn while in 3rd place. “I hit a growler, I think, a little ice cube, and the bulb separated from the keel. The boat lay down on the water. When Vincent (Riou) and Armel (Le Cléac’h) arrived to help me, I was upside down on the hull. ” When we ask him what he took away from this experience, the answer bursts. “Well, now, when I embark on a Vendée Globe, I put my passport and my credit card in my survival suit because when I arrived in Chile, I didn’t have a passport, nothing, I couldn’t land “, he laughs.
What will he look for in this race, he who is returning for the fifth time? “I’m going back because the desire is still there, he emphasizes. Each time it’s different. The definition of adventure is you don’t know. I like competition, but I also appreciate the human adventure with my team. And then there are people who follow you, carry you, it’s a positive energy, it’s pretty awesome. And in the complicated period we are going through, making people dream is a privilege. ”
Follow with us the incredible adventure of the Vendée Globe.