Le Professeur

James Boyd looks at the making of Route du Rhum winner Michel Desjoyeaux
Michel Desjoyeaux's win in the Route du Rhum was interesting not because it was a feat of outright bravery or balls-to-the-wall sailing as we might have been writing if Steve Ravussin had won. Geant's victory does show just how shrewd the Vendee Globe winner is as a yachtsman. To have sailed north to avoid the worst of the weather, to have continued so conservatively in the powerful conditions and then to put into Madeira to reinforce the beams before continuing, showed great presence of mind. He stopped twice, once for 15 hours AND STILL WON! While Desjoyeaux has sailed a great deal on trimarans, this was his first ever event singlehanded on one and it was also the first race for his new boat. New 60ft trimarans tend not to fare well in their first events and it is testament to Desjoyeaux's ability and knowledge gained from his vast and diverse experience on the high sea from the Whitbread to inshore racing, that he pulled through. He is nicknamed 'Le Professeur', the teacher, a name given to him through his selfless propensity for helping novices in the Figaro class. 37 years old and with three children, Desjoyeaux heralds from compact Breton harbour of Port la Foret, known among the French sailing fraternity as "la vallee des fous" (the valley of the mad) because it has spawned so many nutter Figaro and trimaran sailors including Bonduelle skipper Jean le Cam and Sill skipper Roland Jourdain. Desjoyeaux has an unusual lineage with a mother from a French aristocratic family and a father who was a Resistance fighter during WW2 and later one of the founders of the influential Les Glenans sailing school. Aged 18 the young 'Mich Des' joined the famous Eric Tabarly on board the maxi Pen Duick VI to follow