Pressure relief for Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe skippers as new start date set Wednesday
With the rescheduled start of the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination now confirmed as on Wednesday 9th November at 1415hrs local time, the 138 skippers in six classes, have been able to relax today, Sunday.
The release of the mental pressure built up over the last week or so – especially knowing how bad the forecast has been – really was palpable today. Those sailors who had start-day guests – sponsors and partners – to entertain did so with big smiles and no obvious stress. Others, who could, headed home to spend time with family and friends, especially catching up with quality deep sleep.
“Sailors are used to adapting to circumstances,” smiled Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ V) the Vendée Globe winner this morning. François Gabart added, “Being able to adapt and reorganise is part of the game.”
And so while the skippers took some time to unwind, sleep, do sport, eat Sunday lunch and undertake their commercial commitments, behind the scenes the support teams are reshuffling logistics, accommodation and flights to Guadeloupe.
Among those heading home to south Brittany to spend some final moments with their family was Ultim 32/23 favourite Maxi Edmond de Rothschild skipper Charles Caudrelier.
“Charles (Caudrelier) has been to his home but we have to stay in race mode and we are continuing to look at the routing possibilities with the new start time. In terms of logistics, we had to extend our stay at the hotel and flats in Saint-Malo, and postpone our reservations in Guadeloupe. It involves quite a bit of work, but we are getting there,” explained Cyril Dardashti, Director of the Gitana team.
For some, the idea of setting off but then returning to Saint-Malo was already planned, as Fabrice Payen (Ille-et-Vilaine Cap vers l’inclusion) in the Rhum Multi category reported, “I had prepared for that. The weather situation would have been disastrous for everyone. We had already decided to come back into Saint-Malo after the start and had planned to set off again on Wednesday when conditions looked easier to deal with.”
Quentin Vlamynck, the young skipper of the Ocean Fifty Arkema announced, “I’ve just had an incredible deep sleep as the pressure of the start suddenly vanished,”
For the skippers, the postponement was in general a huge relief after all the pressure of the past few days. Isabelle Joschke (MASCF) explained, “The postponement changes a lot of things in our heads. The idea of setting off in such violent conditions drained so much of our energy. The pressure suddenly evaporated when the postponement was announced. I was relieved, but it’s not easy transitioning to a different mode. I’m now looking ahead. But it no longer the same Route du Rhum looming over us.”
Also in the IMOCA fleet Maxime Sorel and his team quickly adapted to the new situation. “This morning I still ate the breakfast we had prepared for the start. I felt a bit lost in some sort of odd time warp or different space dimension like in the film, Back to the Future.”
It was following a press conference this morning that the skippers learned of the start being confirmed as on Wednesday at 1415hrs
“Now it is good to know when we are going to start. That enables us to take care of our itinerary and do our weather analysis. I’m back in an analysis phase with other skippers from Lorient Grand Large. We regularly talk things over with the weather expert, Christian Dumard,” explained Conrad Colman (Imagine). Joschke confirmed, “We now have a clear goal – 1415hrs on Wednesday. That gives us something to work on. We can run our routing programmes and see what is going to happen in the race.”
Ambrogio Beccaria ITALY (Alla Grande – Pirelli, Class40): “With a brand new boat which was launched less than two months ago, I have quite a big team around me. We didn’t have much time, so we needed a lot of people if we wanted to succeed. I have already been though this type of situation in the Mini-Transat (in 2019). The hardest thing for a solo sailor setting off in a transatlantic race is having to leave friends and family behind. It’s easier if they are not there. That avoids being overwhelmed by emotions. When the postponement was announced, the pressure dropped off. It’s what I call the Sunday effect, when you can forget everything. Now, I’m slipping back into the routine getting some rest, looking at the weather, doing some cooking, as I get stressed out in restaurants. I’m easing into the situation.”
Isabelle Joschke (MACSF) – IMOCA: “It’s a regular occurrence for us to adapt to circumstances. It’s the principle of ocean racing I didn’t want to go back home, but keep busy here right up to the start on Wednesday. My team is well used to dealing with unexpected events. During the race they can be contacted day and night. They are ready to hop aboard a plane the next day. Everyone is able to adapt and reorganise, so it’s not a problem at all.”
Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) – Class40: “We reorganised calmly. Yesterday evening the whole team got together for a meal. Most went away this afternoon and I’m going too to spend some time with my daughters. On Monday, I’ll pop into the yard in Vannes to see how things are going with my future IMOCA before returning to Saint-Malo late in the day. Only Donatien, who has been preparing the boat, will stay here with the boat until Monday evening.”
Ollie Heer: “I know that I can always keep the boat going.”
Ollie Heer is probably unique among the aspiring IMOCA skippers who will shortly start their first ever Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. Whilst many of his young counterparts are setting off on their race with many unknown elements, as past boat captain for Alex Thomson, the young Swiss skipper already has tens of thousands of ocean miles on IMOCAs under his belt and possesses a correspondingly comprehensive range of technical skills.
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Experience and skills aside Heer is also armed with a quick mind and clear, pragmatic determination. Multilingual – German, French, English and Chinese spoken here – he has a business management degree and gave up a real world business career to pursue his dream of racing the Vendée Globe and pursuing a legacy for his sailing mad businessman father who died suddenly aged 52 in 2014.
“Life is too short and you have to do what you really, really enjoy and not work in a job you don’t love, hoping to just tick things off on your work list every day.” Volunteers Heer who started sailing at five years old in an Optimist on his native Lake Zurich, “My dad passed away at 52 and he was a very passionate sailor and that is where I got the passion from. He wanted to do Transatlantics and things and so I feel like I am carrying on his love.”
Heer sailed over 40,000 miles on Thomson’s IMOCA and was first on the scene in Cape Town when the British solo racer retired from the last Vendée Globe. It was on the passage home that Thomson advised him to leave and pursue his dream.
“Alex told me to quit. In January 2021 when we sailed home from Cape Town that was when he told me. He did not really tell us he would retire but I know him well and that was a subliminal message I was feeling. He said ‘Ollie if you want to do this, now this is the time. And so I had a good think, I thought ‘I am young, have good technical knowledge and I enjoy speaking to people’. I think I am a good communicator, I am not introverted. I asked my wife and my mum and they both said yes straight away. My wife Therese worked for the Boss team and so has been at Vendée starts too and so she knows what this is all about. She said ‘Ollie, let’s do this’. We have had a professional approach since the very start.”
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