Le Professeur takes to three hulls


James Boyd met up with Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux to see his new tri
In French yachting Michel Desjoyeaux is an exceptional figure. He won the last Vendee Globe despite being chased vigorously by la Petite Anglaise. Three times he has won la Solitaire du Figaro, the effective world championship of singlehanded offshore racing and he has raced offshore multihulls and Formula 40s at the highest level for around 15 years. Although no Frenchman would dream of making the comparison, Desjoyeaux shares many of the ideals of the great Eric Tabarly with whom he and fellow Vendee competitor Roland Jourdain sailed the 1985/6 Whitbread aboard the maxi Cote d'Or. He has a diverse racing background and is nicknamed 'le professeur' (the teacher) less because he knows everything (which many feel he does - he is widely considered to be the guru within the Figaro class) but because, like Tabarly, he is very generous with his knowledge sharing it with others and helping young sailors. Another attribute of France's greatest sailor which Desjoyeaux shares is his interest in technical innovation. It was he who originally introduced the canting keel into the Mini class before it was later scaled up on Isabelle Autissier's Open 60 Ecureuil Poitou Charentes and subsequently became a must-have feature in the 60ft monohull class. It was he who introduced the basket used for spinnaker hoists and drops in the Figaro class - a small, but time saving technique whereby the spinnaker is dumped into a basket slung across the companionway and then spinnaker and basket are simply taken forward en masse and hooked on to the pulpit when the next hoist is needed. His Vendee Globe winner PRB (now racing in the Regata de Rubicon as Virbac) was also a hotbed of innovation. Not only was she built with a Groupe Finot hull and a Lombard deck but has twin transom-hung

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