Vendée Globe: Jérémie Beyou: « I think I can do well »
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
One day, one skipper – Jérémie Beyou was unable to finish the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe and he is back this year as a serious contender for the final victory on Maître CoQ and determined to do well.
érémie Beyou, tell us more about your background.
I sailed a lot on dinghies, mostly solo, and also optimist boats. I was also a crew member on pleasure boats but I eventually came back to single-handed sailing with the Solitaire du Figaro when I was 20 years old, I really focused on that for 9 years before I eventually won it. In 2003, I started sailing on bigger boats, I competed in the Jacques Vabre Transat with Vincent Riou on PRB but also on multihulls with Banque Pop’. That really got me started, it was a very important approach to me, it taught me a lot. Eventually, I never changed anything in thre way I worked, i’ve always came back to solo sailing.
Where does your passion for sailing come from?
There have been three key people. My father, first, who took me sailing on the small family boat. He is the person who made me love the sea so much. As for my passion for competition, I owe it to Bruno Jourdren, who really pushed me when he was my first coach in Optimist boats competitions. He is a champion. He was a World champion, a European champion and he was at the Olympic Games, you can’t do better than that. He gave me his fighting spirit and his taste for competition. And then there is also Gainber, who coached me when I was in Carantec. All these people made me love competition.
How do you manage to still spend enough time with your family?
I try to be around in the morning to help my children get ready for school, and I also try to be back by 7 or 7.30PM so I can have dinner with them or at least read them a bedtime story. But now I sometimes get to practice at night, and there are the pre-season races too so eventually, it’s true I’m not around that often, and unfortunately not only because of races. I’m gone pretty much half of the time, that’s what our life is like. S you really want to enjoy family time when it’s possible.
What made you want to participate in the Vendée Globe for the second time?
I’m attracted in the sports challenge and I knew this 2012 Vendée Globe was going to be athletically tough with many top skippers at the start. I just couldn’t imagine not being part of it, especially since I think I can do well.
Are you looking forward to leaving or do you feel a little stressed out?
I feel good, I know the planned preparation has been completed and we’re on schedule. Now is the beginning of a more relaxed period because we have pushed the yacht hard during navigations and training sessions but I’ve pushed myself hard too. No this is more of a recovery phase before the last ten days in les Sables d’Olonne, where there will be so many people and so many things I’ll have to do that I know I will feel more stress. But so far so good, we’ve done a good job and I’m relaxed.
« Preparation is easier when you get right to the point »
Have you changed anything compared to the way you prepared in 2008?
Many things have changed because we are on a different project. We had out yacht a little less than a year ago while last time, we had built the boat. The way the technical team works and our goals are therefore drastically different. This time around, we are relying on a boat that has been around, with great performances, and barely any issues. We have tried to sail on the boat more than last time and we tried not to develop or change her too much. We had a timing that wouldn’t have allowed us to do so anyway but it was a good thing, it gave us a direction. Preparation is easier when you get right to the point.
What is your goal in this Vendée Globe?
As a competitor at heart, I wouldn’t have decided to participate in the Vendée Globe if I didn’t know I have a chance to win the race. I’m not here for fun but we all know things can come to an end sooner than expected, like when you hit something for instance. We know there will be tough competition against us and that even when trying to make the best choices, sometimes it just doesn’t pay off. We are preparing so we can sail among the first five skippers.
What is your best memory at sea?
Wow, that is tough to say. It’s hard to think of one because there are so many (he laughs). You tend to remember victories better so I would say the finishes of the Solitaire du Figaro legs last year. And finishing the Jacques Vabre with Jean-Pierre (Dick) in Costa Rica, also last year, but you know there are really a lot of good moments.
And your worst?
The human brain is pretty good at forgetting those. The toughest times are not necessarily the ones you experience yourself, it can be when other skippers around you have issues because you don’t really know how serious it is for them or their boats. In the 1998 Figaro, if I remember well, Jourdain was sailing in an extremely thick fog by night, off the Welsh coast and I hadn’t received any news from him for a while. I wasn’t even sure he was still on his boat, we were feeling terrible because we thought he had gone down. That was a really scary moment and I do remember that quite well.
« In order to appreciate other people’s company, I need to be alone sometimes »
You’re going to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day at sea. Isn’t it too hard to be away from your family then?
Not for me, it is not. I think it’s more difficult for the one who stay on dry land. These are special days for my wife and kids but as for me, I can’t complain because I chose to be where I am. But when I think about my children, of course, I know they’d prefer to be with their dad. But things like that happen…
How do you deal with loneliness when spending three months at sea?
I’m not worried about that. Even when I’m not at sea I spend a lot of time alone, I need that in order to be able to appreciate other people’s company. So it’s not really something I’m afraid of. I feel comfortable when sailing alone, it’s like a second nature to me. I could almost say I’m actually looking forward to it (he laughs)
Many yachtsmen insist on how noisy yachts can be. Does the noise bother you?
Well, you have to deal with it, even though at times it more difficult to stand the noise because the boat is sailing so fast. That’s when you’re happy when you can be away from all that noise with a noice-reduction device, which helps a little bit. But it’s a good thing to hear noises too because you don’t want to be cut off from reality. Noise usually doesn’t bother me that much.
« I really want to keep sailing in the IMOCA class »
As a skipper, are you involved in the protection of the environment and sustainable development?
Yes, as a skipper, I am. But nowadays, I think everybody is, and yachtsmen are not necessarily more concerned than the rest of the population. People just don’t throw away things in the sea when sailing but to be honest, I never saw anyone do it in the past either. Sustainable development has become a second nature, also because the lighter the yacht, especially because if the fuel you carry, the better the performance so it’s not necessarily about the protection of the environment but also about the efficiency and the performance. We use less fuel on board than we would if we stayed home with our cars and heaters…
Have you already thought about what you’ll do when you’re back?
I really want to keep sailing in the IMOCA class and to participate in the 2013 Jacques Vabre. But I also know I’ll be back in the Solitaire du Figaro at one point. I want to sail on MOD 70s too because I had such a great experience doing so with Michel (Desjoyeaux) so if I get a chance, I won’t hesitate because I know I can learn a lot. And I’m also interested in the Volvo (Ocean Race).
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 October 2012 )