Georges Kick, 64 years old, an anesthesiologist from Tarn-et-Garonne. Violette Dorange, 18 years old, high-performance athlete from La Rochelle. One got into sailing late in his life while the other started dinghy sailing at 7 and has already established herself as a capable sailor. Everything seems to set these two sailors apart and yet here they are, both about to cross the start line of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in a few days’ time. We compare the portraits of the oldest sailor in the fleet and the youngest.
By sailing in her first Mini-Transat at only 18 years of age, Violette will be the youngest sailor in this 22nd edition of the race. A status that she embraces without pressure. “I’m quite proud of being the youngest in the race. I consider that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain” declares the local sailor, member of the Société des Régates Rochelaise yacht club. It’s a similar scenario for Georges, who is just as philosophical about his status as the most senior skipper. “On the one hand I’m proud of being the race’s elder, but on the other hand it’s not making me any younger… (laughs). I think that to do what I’m about to do you also have to be young of mind which is my case.”
Hailing from a family of sailors, Violette is doing her first Mini-Transat to enjoy herself above all else. “My goal is to get to the finish and to enjoy it as much as possible”, she says, but her competitive nature remains evident. “If I can get a Top 10 finish I’ll take it!” says the 2016 French National Champion in the 420. For Georges, most of his professional career is behind him. The Mini-Transat La Boulangère is an opportunity for him to get some alone time and be in contact with the elements. “I love being offshore and the solitude that comes with it. I hope that it will be a beautiful voyage into my inner self and a pleasant sail. I intend to make the most of the sunrises and sunsets, the starlit sky at night and hopefully the lack of problems!”
A mutual respect
Though they benefit from a certain benevolence from the rest of the fleet, between Violette and Georges the primary sentiment is one of respect and admiration for one another. “I feel great respect seeing Violette in the Mini-Transat at such a young age. You need a strong mindset to take part in this adventure so young because there can be very stressful situations,” admits the skipper of the robust Pogo 2 No.529. “However, she has already proven that she can face tough challenges like her English Channel and Straits of Gibraltar passages in an Optimist.” As for Violette, she admits that she’s very impressed by what Georges is about to go through. “I can’t imagine my grandparents sailing the Mini-Transat, so when I see what Georges is getting ready to do, I think it’s crazy, it’s brilliant! He’s giving his all. I hope that when I’m his age I’ll be able to do what he’s doing and be the most senior member of the fleet… (laughs)”
A personal challenge
They both view their participation in this common adventure at their respective ages as a personal challenge. “It was the right moment for me to do it. I see it as a fresh challenge to be the youngest skipper to compete in the Mini-Transat” explains Violette, a feeling echoed by Georges. “My age has never been an obstacle in participating in the Mini-Transat. On the contrary, it’s added motivation to prove that there are no age limits for competing in this race.” This blending of the generations is also the opportunity to learn from one another. “What is good on the Mini-Transat is that it’s open to everyone, there are people of all ages, and everyone shares their experience!” says Violette. “To sail against sailors with such pedigrees is a great opportunity. For someone such as myself who learned how to sail late in life, I can only benefit from the experience Violette has acquired throughout her years of competitive sailing,” Georges concludes.