Last Saturday morning, Morgan Lagravière completed the solo 1,500-mile voyage required to qualify for the Vendée Globe.
The greatest satisfaction was that his boat, Safran, is in perfect condition, despite the sometimes rough conditions. His voyage has been validated by the Vendée Globe race office, meaning the skipper of Safran has qualified officially.
To guarantee qualification for the Vendée Globe, a skipper must meet two requirements. Firstly, they must be able to prove they have done a solo race on board an IMOCA, which Lagravière accomplished during the Transat Saint-Barth – Port-la-Forêt on Nicolas Boidevezi’s boat. Secondly, the skipper and their boat must have an accredited solo voyage of ??1,500 miles together, either in a race or as a delivery. It is this journey that Lagravière just completed last week.
“This qualification will give me a lot more confidence for the programme to come, including the Transat New York – Vendée,” Lagravière said. “It’s easier to give your all when the sword of Damocles is not hanging over your head.”
A complicated journey
However, the qualifier was no cruise round the coast: “I chose to leave in pretty rough conditions (25 to 30 knots) to allow me test things and see how the boat behaved,” Lagravière said. “To begin with, I dove south in the Bay of Biscay, before climbing back up to Ireland at the entrance to St George’s Channel. For the whole trip I had close to a 20-knot average.” As he arrived in Ireland, the wind eased sharply and the weather conditions changed dramatically. “The wind vanished completely offshore. In order to keep moving, I had to stay in a strip of about 50 miles along the British coast and then off the coast of Brittany.” But if you go coastal sailing you also have do the traffic management between fishing boats and commercial shipping. “Suddenly, the rhythm was more like a Solitaire du Figaro, with naps of 20 minutes, at best,” he said.
Satisfaction and an exciting programme to come
Being back with the boat in perfect condition is the greatest of the many satisfactions for Lagravière. In addition, the skipper of Safran believes he has taken another step forward in the understanding of his boat and realising its potential. The delivery for the New York – Vendée race is scheduled for the first week of May, as part of the Voyage Transatlantic sponsored by Les Éditions Gallimard. Lagravière will sail with Gildas Mahé, fresh from the Transat AG2R, Gwénolé Gahinet and, of course, Roland Jourdain.
“I’m looking forward to this delivery,” Lagravière said. “They’re all top-level sailors, who I feel very close to. Gwéno and Gildas are real friends and I’m getting to know Bilou (Jourdain) better and better. Besides the obvious technical input from them, I hope they give me their joy of living at sea that they always have. That’s another thing I have to work on. I still feel that I always need a competition to get the best out of myself at sea. But I know that during the Vendée Globe, there will be periods of varying intensity in terms of competing with other boats. So, I still have to work on keeping a constant level of motivation.”
Surrounded by sailors accustomed to long-distance voyages, Lagravière is bound to get some good lessons before a Transat New York – Vendée that will not want for intensity, with 18 boats registered for the start. That will be enough to satisfy his competitive temperament.
by Safran Sailing Team