Vendee Globe - 1230 - 23/2/01
Thomas Coville missed the tide to get into Les Sables last night, and so he gave his press conference this morning. This is some of what he had to say, courtesy of the Race Office. "When my idea to do the Vendée Globe came to fruition, it represented a professional resolution. A race such as this is considered to be a solo affair, but you don’t do it alone. I have a formidable shore team behind me. I love to share what I’m doing, and these guys allowed me to do exactly that, to share something magical.
"Even with Sodebo, my sponsor, we’ve passed the stage where they are just partners. The Vendée Globe, it’s a human synthesis of everything worthy you have inside of you. You are curious to go and see what it’s worth, what it’s all about. And you only see when it gets tough, when the conditions are beyond normal.
"The Vendée Globe, it’s a mini-life. You have no repose, neither in the space you live, which is constrained, nor in the time, because it’s permanent life, 24/24, everything to give the whole time. You can’t cut up the course into sections. The good and the bad moments - I just don’t know, the race is one whole. It’s a life spent servicing the needs of your boat, it becomes an obsession.
"Meteorologically speaking, it was a really hard race. I think about those still racing, those who have abandoned, like Thierry Dubois. Guys like that have had a much tougher time!
"The boats ahead of me were much better. Michel (Desjoyeaux), whom I have named ‘The Emperor’. Ellen, well, it was the perfect Anglo-Saxon project. Not a single hiccup, and at the centre of that project was a little sweetheart, poetry amongst brutes! Bilou’s (Jourdain) project was partly down to the architect, Marc Lombard, and also down to Bilou, one got the impression that he had caught his braces in Mich’s door: he stopped, he revved back up, then stopped, revved up again! As for Marc and Dominique, we were all in the same boat: we were all running behind the top three!
"What I’m saying is off the tip of my tongue, and it’s hard to express it all. But I’m not looking for an excuse! Your boat is an extension of you. You feel her pain - I didn’t know how to anticipate in my project. But what I lost from a technical point of view, I won in the 105 days I spent close to those who followed me. I didn’t lose the race on 2nd December 2000 when I hit the whale, but the 2nd December 1999, when I refused to have a rotating mast. Then, we lost all our chances to win the Vendée Globe.
"The winner is not the guy who has the hardest race, nor the loser the one who has the easy time. There are no rules to this course. When I passed Cape Horn, the ‘Cape of Deliverance’ as we call it, it was awesome. It stood as an exit from the cold, the icebergs, sailing along past Terra del Fuego, behind Cape Horn island, there was a myriad of other islands.
"When the dawn rose, the sun came out from behind one of the islands, with an extraordinary luminescence. At that point I was really not happy with myself or my race, and yet I was just enchanted at this incredible sight! Mid-crisis, when the waves are tossing you around, and you’re sick of it all, kicking your feet, at the same time you are telling yourself that this same sea is wonderful, you are in awe of it. You have to be slightly crackpot to do that, but I’d have to say that I am a little mad!
"I want to stress three things: I got the boat home, I gave my all in this race to be worthy of the confidence every one of my supporters has had in me, I wanted to be free and to hold to my choices right to the end. And that’s what I’ve done!"
continued on page two