Published on 20 September 2021
Solo sailors showing solidarity
The desire to be useful and to take action to help others, to champion values, to pursue their dreams and share them with the widest possible audience are some of the multitude of motivations for the ten Mini Transat EuroChef skippers, who have chosen to associate their project with a special cause, whether it be connected to the environment, childhood or illness. Their goals: to unite people as well as shine a spotlight on various associations, foundations and institutes with the aim of furthering research, raising awareness or favouring social and professional integration.
“Though the Mini Transat is essentially a singlehanded, unassisted race, I couldn’t imagine doing it on my lonesome just for myself. Very early on, I was convinced of the usefulness of defending a cause and my decision naturally translated across to the Institut Bergonié, the regional centre in Nouvelle-Aquitaine set up to try to combat cancer. This disease caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells affects every one of us, directly or indirectly, since one in three people in France are currently living with it today”, explains Pierre Blanchot, who hopes that during his transatlantic passage, he can highlight the various actions of the centre, which has a mission of care, research and education. In so doing, he hopes to raise funds, which will then be divided up equally between the establishment and his own project. “It’s crucial for us to rally together to carry out further research. For those who are sick, the road to remission is far from easy. You often have to zigzag your way along, on seas which are not smooth and flat, with plenty of highs and lows along the way, a little like sailing at the end of the day”, notes the skipper from Bordeaux.
Committed Mini sailors
In the same way, Luca Del Zozo (Race=Care), Nicolas Guibal (Les œuvres de Pen Bron), Victor Eonnet (Fondation Arhtritis – Amiens Naturellement), Pierre Meilhat (Le Goût de la Vie), Tanguy Aulanier (La Chaîne de l’Espoir), Chloé Le Bars (Association MJ pour l’Enfance), Sophie Monnier (Gustave Roussy), Jean Marre (Sport dans la Ville – Time for the Planet) and Quentin Riché (Race for Pure Ocean) are equally committed sailors. All of them are hoping to benefit from the event’s impact in the media, on the social networks and at the heart of the three host venues of Les Sables d’Olonne, Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries, and Saint-François in Guadeloupe, to create a buzz around the associations, foundations and other structures which they’ve chosen to support.
Not all about self
“It’s fair to say that our projects are a little selfish, since their associated with our passion. A lot of people in our entourage pay the price for that and that’s why I was keen to open up my project to a group”, notes Jean Marre, who hopes to fly the flag of the insertion through sport association Sport dans ma Ville (Sport in my Town), as well as the Time for the Planet mission, which is active across France and overseas in its battle to combat climate change. “Long ago, I discovered that sport had a major impact on society in general. When I began this Mini Transat sporting adventure, I called myself into question. I wondered what I could do to pack a little more punch into my project and ultimately everything fell into place as a matter of course”, concludes the former rugby player, who is well aware that sport is a vehicle of strong values associated with pushing the envelope, fairness, teamwork, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance and respect.
Powerful actions and values
This is something that Pierre Meilhat knows all about too. In this way, he’s created the Le Goût de la Vie association (Zest for Life), which is designed to bring together associations, companies and people around his project. “Like Jean and other sailors, I wanted to avoid selfishly setting sail on my Mini Transat for me alone”, explains the sailor, who endeavours to lead by example in his race preparation by complementing the process with a whole series of actions like collecting up any waste on site, cleaning the Mini zone at the Base in Lorient and working in a community volunteering project. “The association gives me the energy I need for the Mini Transat and is helping me to be a better person generally. It makes me want to do things rather than have things, and that’s the message I hope to get across to everyone I cross tacks with”.