Le Professeur speaks

We talk to Michel Desjoyeaux about the Vendee, his company Mer Agitee and Geant's 700,000 Euro refit
Aside from being the only man to have won singlehanded offshore sailing's 'triple crown' - the Vendee Globe, the Route du Rhum and the Transat (as well as the Solitaire du Figaro on two occasions) Michel Desjoyeaux also runs the French equivalent of Offshore Challenges, called Mer Agitee which managed the campaigns of both 2004-5 Vendee Globe race winner Vincent Riou's PRB and that of VMI for fifth placed Sebastien Josse. Neither PRB nor VMI was new for the Vendee (read all about them here) but both boats and their skippers put in exceptional performances, Riou taking line honours, while Josse looked certain of at least fourth had he not collided with an iceberg. Four years on from Desjoyeaux's race, the pace of the latest Vendee Globe proved more furious, the boats making it around the world non-stop in 88 days compared to his time of 93 days. "I think they were faster for three main reasons," says Desjoyeaux in typically analytical form. "The boat speed is obviously better than four years ago and a boat like PRB is also about 500kg lighter plus all the materials carried were about 350-400kg lighter - things like spare parts and lots of things you don’t use but you carry because you don’t know if you'll need them. This is one of the main reasons and also because on all these boats they have added a lot more central ballast which doesn’t make the boat heavier when you are downwind but makes them much more powerful upwind. "The second reason is for sure, the rhythm of the race, because there was always a fight between the two or three boats at the front. In the Southern Ocean downwind if you are pushed you go faster than if you just want to cross the ocean.