Sébastien Josse’s lead up to the Vendée Globe
On 6th November, Sébastien Josse will start the Vendée Globe for the third time. In doing so, 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 the 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 is 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 14th 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 the respective jobs on their list and though technically the dice is cast, there are still a few last decisions to make, notably with regards to what Sébastien will take on board.
Sébastien Josse has both feet on solid ground, before setting out to sea. His schedule is meticulous yet tailored to the needs of a sailor who is keen not to tire himself out before the race. Sébastien kicked off this week with a final visit to the Multiplast yard in Vannes where the Gitana Maxi – 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 of 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,” admits the sailor. “It makes me want to get round the world 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 the 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-Forêt with a number of his future rivals. A venue for competition and the honing of skills, 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 race. We’re setting off on a marathon not a sprint. However it’s good to see on these training sessions that things are working well on board,” says the skipper, who’s been sailing at the “Pôle” since his first tacks on a Figaro in the late nineties.
“Next, on 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 a result we have managed to make up the gap in performance, but we must not get ahead of ourselves as these inshore 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 the five-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.
FOCUS: for the members of Gitana team, it’s time to pack their bags!
With five weeks until kick-off, it’s time to load up the boat’s living space… but not too much. It’s important to choose the right gear – around 300kg in addition to the sails – which will enable Sébastien to take care of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild and be self-sufficient in the most isolated places on the planet. With an eye on safety and daily life, packing your bag is not a simple affair for the skipper. “You need to find the right balance between wanting to prevent any potential issues and playing to win,” the sailor explains. “We’re striving to make light boats so we can’t then overload them because we’re setting off around the world. What’s complicated to handle is the ‘you never know’ scenario. With experience, you manage to make choices, but it’s never easy.”
The longer the board: frozen dishes but certainly good quality!
Imagine yourself on a boat for over 75 days, 24/7, with no fridge or freshwater on tap, with only a kettle for a kitchen… Feeding yourself inevitably becomes more of a necessity than a pleasure. However, for his meals, the skipper of Gitana 16 is lucky enough to have a ‘secret weapon’: he has been able to benefit from the talents of Julien Gatillon, the 2-star chef at Le 1920, the Chalet du Mont d’Arbois’ gourmet restaurant, one of the jewels of the Rothschild domain in Megève. In his hands, a squid à l’Armoricaine, a lentil soup or a semolina pudding become something special, even freeze-dried and even savoured crouched down in wet weather gear inside what constantly feels like a drum! The two men have set out the menus and everything’s been trialled at sea, notably during the year’s transatlantic crossings. With a view to keeping the weight down, 90% of Sébastien’s meals will be dehydrated but he will keep a few sachets of fresh dishes, particularly for the first few days of racing.