Vendee Globe Preview - Michel Desjoyeaux


The man the pundits reckon they've all got to beat, Ed Gorman reports
If either Mike Golding or Ellen MacArthur are to win the Vendee Globe single-handed round-the world race, they are going to have to beat some excellent sailors in what is indisputably the most competitive edition of this four-yearly classic. Among them are the French stars; Thomas Coville, Bernard Galley, Roland Jourdain and Yves Parlier, and the Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre. But the one almost all the pundits have picked as clear favourite is the man they call "le professeur" or the teacher. His subject is single-handed racing and Michel Desjoyeaux is regarded as the most complete exponent of this most extreme form of yacht racing. A good judge is the British single-hander Marcus Hutchinson, who has raced with Desjoyeaux in the two-handed Figaro class and knows exactly what he is capable of on the water. "He's a very, very talented sailor and a perfect single-hander in that he's an all-rounder," says Hutchinson. There's no part he can't do - he makes the best start, he trims brilliantly and he can do the tactics. Some people are born with something and Mich is one of them." That's a pretty awesome assessment, but it only reflects the general view, namely that Desjoyeaux is in a different class. In a pre-race interview for madforsailing - in the cockpit of his Finot-designed Open 60, PRB - at the crowded race village at Les Sables D'Olonne, the man himself came over as ominously relaxed as Sunday's start draws ever closer. He described the idea of himself as the favourite as 'a joke' but then he added, 'I have often been the favourite or one of the favourites when racing alone - it's not a problem for me. The important thing is just to be ready in your head and with your boat. My only objective is

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