Seb Josse profile
At 33 he already has a very impressive CV and has many times been under the spotlight on the international scene, but it doesn't seem to have affected his sense of reality. "I'm quite indifferent to the glitz of it, and if I wasn't a professional sailor, I'd be perfectly happy running a modest shipyard," comments Sébastien, who studied mechanics and is always keen to get involved with his technical team when the boat is in the shed.
Raised under the blue skies of the Côte d'Azur in southern France it did not take long for him to find his way onto adventures. "My family settled in Nice when I was very young. I've been a quiet child, until I discovered that there were a lot of things to see and do outside!" The sea came into the picture when Sébastien's father bought a sailboat which soon became the Josses' secondary home. Racing only came later, and Sébastien waited until he was 18 to take part in his first regattas.
Having met a local coach, he then started to train in Monaco, where an active J24 fleet was based. "Eventually, we entered some rather high-level competitions, and I became hooked. I then crewed on various boats, and after my "Bac" (A-Level), I was granted a sabbatical: my father dreamt of crossing the Atlantic with one of his sons, so we geared up for that expedition, which was our first ever real offshore adventure." After a memorable journey, Sébastien and the boat stayed in the French West Indies, enjoying complete freedom. "My father flew back to France due to his professional obligations, and trusted me with the boat. so basically, I cruised around on my own for 9 months." Needless to say this interlude dramatically sharpened the young Josse's singlehanded skills, and shortly after his return to France he took a shot at the Espoir Crédit Agricole Challenge, a Figaro One-Design competition for young guns.
"That year, I won the Challenge Espoir, which gave me access to two fully funded seasons on the Figaro circuit." The stepping-stone also meant relocating to Brittany, a region with which Sébastien quickly developed a strong bond. "I landed in that universe like a kid who can't believe his eyes - all the great names I used to read about in magazines were there, very accessible." He worked relentlessly, and his rivals quickly understood it wouldn't be long before he joined the ranks of the best in the class. Most of whom became close friends - like Yann Eliès, Jérémie Beyou or Vincent Riou. This gifted generation today finds itself among the natural favourites for this year's Vendée Globe.
In 2001, fresh from a brilliant second place overall in the Solitaire du Figaro, Sébastien became part of the Orange maxi-catamaran crew and went on to become co-holder of the Jules Verne Trophy with a record-breaking 64-days circumnavigation. The 2004 Vendée Globe soon followed and, despite a collision with an iceberg, the skipper managed to not only finish but also capture a very creditable fifth place. He was appointed skipper of an international crew for the 2005 Volvo Ocean Race and, to this day, Josse is the only sailor to have completed all three of these events, which represent the pinnacle of professional offshore racing. Yet, he remains very humble about those achievements: "I've worked hard, and yes I've come a long way in 10 years, but there is still a lot to be done and I have a massive hurdle in front of me. The 2008 Vendée Globe is exceptional in terms of lineup, all the greatest sailors are on the startline and there's an impressive number of new boats. The competition level never has been quite as high."
Last week the BT Open 60 was in Port la Forêt in Southern Brittany (France) taking part in a special training programme with some of the other top-runners for the Vendée Globe. "It has been really important to sail in Port la Foret as it's a great opportunity to line up against the big opponents and to compare BT with the other boats. I'm really happy with the boat speed and am feeling very confident onboard her now," commented Josse.
The team then sailed BT back to their base in Lorient (France) to continue working on the boat and will return again to Port la Forêt next week for the final training session.