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Return to the news 29 September 2016

For the members of Gitana team, it's time to pack to their bags!

Vendée Globe 2016-2017 Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild Sébastien Josse

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.

To discover what will be aboard the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, Gitana Team has photographed and itemised the inventory for you. View it and read all about it below!


Lifebuoy, fire extinguishers, flares and GPS distress beacons, wetsuit and liferaft, satellite telephone, harness, self-inflating lifejacket, personal flashlight…, safety-related gear is a constant for the solo sailor, who keeps everything within arm's length. 


During the Vendée Globe the skipper can carry a maximum of 9 sails (1 mainsail and 8 headsails), or a total of 1,460m2 weighing 500 kilos.


All the bags containing the food, clothing, tools, etc. are gathered together on a carbon sledge, which Sébastien moves from one side of the boat to the other with the help of ropes, so as to optimise the boat's trim according to the point of sail and the weather.


The lines are the throttle lever, which enables the sails to be trimmed. They are made of Dyneema, a very high resistance fibre. A line measuring 8mm in diameter can withstand a 9.85-tonne load! Aboard the boat, Sébastien keeps a constant eye on any wear and ensures he has the necessary equipment to effect repairs.


He boasts a classic toolkit with all the necessary equipment to make up a little composite (resin, fabric) and do small amounts of electronic soldering, as well as gear to maintain the deck hardware (e.g. grease for the winches), repair the sails (battens, adhesive fabric) and work on the engine, etc.


99% of the navigation is managed using a computer and all the course data is accessible from the chart table down below and on a remote screen in the cockpit, with a spare in the event that the system fails. It's compulsory to have a nautical almanac aboard (book of references about all the beacons and approaches to ports and places to take shelter) and paper charts of all the zones traversed.


One drone, one I-pad and one I-phone to take photos and videos (even aerial shots!) of the round the world journey, as well as to listen to music (with a portable bluetooth speaker) and some audio books. An antenna allows access to the internet, via satellite, and the telephone, so as to call land or another competitor.


It's hard to get any sleep in this moving, wet, loud environment. Sébastien primarily sleeps in foulies on his beanbag, which he moves around the boat, but when he can really stretch out, he has a memory foam mattress, a sleeping bag and an active noise reduction helmet.


Showers are taken using sea water, or rainwater on occasion in the tropics, using organic soap; failing that, baby wipes are used to have a wash. Suncream, healing cream, toothbrush, toothpaste and stuff for shaving once a week round off this most refined of requirements!


The contents of the First Aid kit are studied and controlled by the French Sailing Federation (FFVoile) and the international sailing federation (ISAF) with a list of products and compulsory training in the treatment of certain pathologies and how to handle tools like the stapler for wounds and the like. All the competitors have the same kits and the race doctors, who are on stand-by back on land, know exactly what kit the solo sailor has to hand.


This element is very minimalist and amounts to a Jet Boil: an aluminium mug mounted on a blowtorch, which can boil water in 1 minute. 90% of the dishes are dehydrated and accompanied by other long-life foodstuffs, which are then divided up into day bags and then week bags. Ship's bonus: The meals have been conjured up by Michelin-starred chef Julien Gatillon (Le 1920 restaurant - Megève) and two bottles of Baron de Rothschild champagne are carried on the boat to celebrate the key passages along the way.


Sébastien carries two sets of foulies aboard (salopettes and jacket), one light and one warmer, as well as a drysuit for rough weather conditions. He then carries ten or so sub-layers made of Merino wool and anti-impact Lycra. He has a lifejacket with a harness and a tether attached to the boat for when he has to go up forward to carry out manoeuvres and may use a helmet to scale the mast.

Imagine yourself on a boat for over 75 days, 24/7, with no fridge or freshwater on tap, with 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's 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 tasted crouched down in foulies 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

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