“I remember…” by Loïck Peyron
A round the world, especially single-handed, is not insignificant!

On 26th November 1989, Loïck Peyron ranked among the thirteen pioneers of the first Vendée Globe. On 9th November 2008, 19 years on, he will be one of the most experienced sailors on the start line and above all the only one of the competitors to have participated in the first edition.

“This type of situation is a machine to shorten time! I still have very detailed memories of all the transatlantic races where I was the youngest in the race… and today I'm the last of the mohicans. I'm not bothered about this status, quite the contrary. Sailing is a sport which enables you to express yourself for a long time and I find longevity reassuring and pleasant.”

Every four years, the population's fervour floods the streets of Les Sables d'Olonne. Sailing enthusiasts or simple admirers of these men and women who take to the sea, these thousands of people come here in force.

“When Philippe Jeantot announced the creation of the Vendée Globe, I immediately told him I'd be at the start. I didn't have a boat but it was a dream… added to that first times in anything are always something I've been passionate about. I have a great number of memories from this first edition, including that of exiting the port. To make it out into open water, the solo sailors have to adopt the channel in Les Sables d'Olonne. It's a channel where thousands of people are massed together, just to greet us. It's a very powerful, moving moment but also a very difficult one. I remember wanting it to be the next morning.”

In 1989, a few weeks after the start of the first Vendée Globe, off the Cape of Good Hope, Philippe Poupon capsized. He found himself trapped, his boat broached over onto the side, and he requested assistance. Loïck being the closest competitor diverted his course following a request from the organiser to lend his companion a hand.

“The rescue is part of my history and I wouldn't change it for the world, just like my 2nd place behind Titouan Lamazou. The rescue of Philippe Poupon, prior to the Deep South was a fairly unsettling episode, but I think that he saved me in some way. Imagine seeing the favourite on the ground prior to attacking ‘hell'; it makes you think! But, in all probability, it enabled me to be more careful and more lucid. It was an important reality check for the remainder of my race.”

After some long months spent alone at sea, the sailors who have had the chance to participate in the Vendée Globe willingly admit that they come back different…

“A round the world and a single-handed one at that is not insignificant! You could compare the Vendée Globe to an ecclesiastical retreat. The sporting aspect can sometimes gloss over the interior ponderings but three months is a long time and it gives you thinking space. For me this race speaks volumes about personalities.”

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