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news - Kito de Pavant: 3 days to the start of the Vendée Globe 2012-2013

Nov 07 2012

 

The Vendée Globe: a world of contrasts

According to the Vendée Globe organizers, more than half a million people have walked up and down Les Sables d'Olonne pontoon in these last two weeks. With family, friends, co-workers or even classroom mates, everyone is moving quietly alongside the boats in the hope of seeing these single-handed sailors about to set off on a round-the-world. Once again, this flood of people demonstrates the fascination people ashore have for this maritime challenge. Kito de Pavant, who will be setting off at the helm of Groupe Bel for the second time, likes this close contact with the public. The skipper puts his heart into the photos, autographs, and boat visiting sessions. At 13:02 on Saturday, he will leave the huge crowds in the wake of his beautiful red boat and will plunge into the adventure.

“On the pontoon, you can feel that the public wonders ‘what are they looking for over there?'. When you embark on a project as intense as the Vendée Globe, you don't necessarily know why. What we are sure about is that we really want to do it, with the conviction that we are ready to overcome the difficulties awaiting us.”

Confidence comes from wariness: “I have been sailing the oceans for more than 30 years and I know that there will always be things that go wrong. Together with my team, we have overcome difficult technical problems. We never lost confidence, but we learned how to be wary of anything that made us stronger. Experience of the boat brings confidence and experience of the sea brings wariness.”

The dream of the realistic: “You need to be optimistic. If you are not, you don't cast off. You also need to be realistic. We will be heading towards the most isolated places on earth and our dream requires many precautions. To sail the seas, you need to have your feet on ground.”

Freedom subject to constraints: “Single-handed sailors decide everything. They are the masters of their choices which they make in a hostile world jam-packed with constraints. Even if we live inside a few square meters of carbon in the middle of an unpredictable natural environment, for us, being alone at sea represents the ultimate form of freedom and I could not do without this.”

Stress and adrenalin: “The stress is continual and comes with some fine shots of adrenalin, as after an extreme maneuver, or when the boat hurtles down huge night waves. The moments of pleasure are rare and transitory but powerful. When the boat glides at 100% of its performance, this is quite simply beautiful. However, true satisfaction comes once it is over, when you cross the finishing line.”

Civilized savages: “At sea, we are capable of living like dogs, particularly since when solo, you don't need to pay attention to others. To avoid decline, you must not lose your self-respect. Sleeping a little, eating sufficiently, drinking before you are thirsty, moving about gently to avoid injury are things you learn with experience, so as never to go beyond the red line.”

Hypersensitive but tough: ''Our bodies feel the movements of the boat, we use our sensations of the wind on our skin, our sense of smell too, since there are smells at sea, our eyes, of course, to observe the light breezes, sky, clouds, and even moonless nights, as will be the case for the first days of the race. Although you need to be tough, I think that our hypersensitivity is a wonderful weapon.”

Alone in the pack: ''Even though I want to race my own race, I am interested in the other contenders, to keep the pace and enrich my decisions. But especially, I make sure everything is going well for the others, because we are the last ramparts in the event of a big problem. We know that we can be asked to reroute in order to rescue another sailor.”

To follow the race: Vendée Globe

© Gilles Martin-Raget / Groupe Bel

© Vincent Curutchet / Groupe Bel

© Windreport / Groupe Bel