Erwan Le Draoulec (Emile Henry)
“I brought a book with me, but I never thought to read it. I helmed, I ate, I slept, I answered the calls of nature, a real animal life. It was a nightmare. The boat was soaked the whole time. I never dumped any sails, I just went up forward to reinforce my bowsprit. To get to sleep when I was under autopilot, I put on my headphones with some audio books and I listened again to the whole of Harry Potter. It was the only way of preventing stress whilst the boat was powering along at 18 knots, sometimes under autopilot, but I never eased off the pace. It was only in the last two days where I dropped the large spinnaker in the squalls. I said to myself that it would be too silly to break everything so close to the goal. Prior to that though I really attacked hard. I knew I was risking a dismasting, but my line of thinking was that I was only twenty years old and that I’d have the opportunity to do another Mini-Transat. I didn’t make the most of it, I didn’t enjoy it. I’d like to the cross the Atlantic again, but gently so as to make the most of it. The key moment of the race was just after the Cape Verde passage. Together with Clarisse, we successfully negotiated the wind shadow created by the islands and at dusk I attacked like someone possessed, particularly given the fact that I knew Tanguy Bouroullec hadn’t come off so well in that section. That night, I had a peak speed of 23 knots. It’s incredible what you can put these boats through. From then on, tucked away in my little corner, I no longer called anyone up and focused solely on my race. I got the result I was after but I was under so much tension that I didn’t really get any pleasure from it.”
Clarisse Crémer (TBS)
“The first and second leg were worlds apart! I’m so happy I can’t take it all in yet. It’s a strange feeling to be here: you’re happy to be at sea and yet at the same time you’re keen to have the physical presence of other people. And when you get to the finish, it’s almost the reverse, you’re so happy to see everyone, but you know that it’s the end of a great adventure. I no longer knew where I was at. I must have cried for three hours as I approached the line. In fact, the minute I was racing, I stopped thinking about the communication around my project, about the responsibility I had on my shoulders, otherwise I’d have been done for. The plan was to cross the Atlantic. I threw myself into this project to learn and I’ve been lucky to have the two Tanguys among my entourage (Tanguy Le Turquais, her partner and Tanguy Leglatin her coach). I owe a lot to Tanguy Leglatin: he took me on even though I was rubbish at the start. He saw that I was motivated and that I applied myself and that was enough for him and look where I am now. The worry is that when you work with him, you feel like you can no longer see what you’re doing wrong as he is so demanding. However, that too is what makes you progress.
What am I going to do? I hoped the race would come up with the answer, but that’s not how it’s played out. It’s a catastrophe, I don’t know what I want to do. It was a great project, which has taken two years of my life, which is quite something. I’ll have to find something else now. Offshore racing is very special after all: you have a team, which rallies around one person and all these people give you so much energy only for you to then set off on your own. So, you need to put together a project for the right reasons and you have to find the right reasons.”
Benoît Sineau (Cachaca II)
“If someone had said to me that I’d end up on the podium, I’d have signed up straightaway. There were a lot of people in the production boat category and with my job I wasn’t able to really train. After that, you’re always keen to post a solid performance and as I’d already done a season in the Mini a few years ago, I felt as if it would be like riding a bike, you don’t really forget how to do it. Due to work commitments I set sail with very few hours of sailing under my belt and as such I felt like I was making progress every day. The first leg certainly gave me confidence and enabled me to sail the way I know how. I’d been waiting for this Mini-Transat La Boulangère for so long that I put my professional activity completely to one side to do the preparation for the race. It’s the only way of being able to do something and enjoy it. When you keep both parties sweet, you achieve nothing.”