Vive le Prof
Michel Desjoyeaux has reunited with his long term sponsor TBS to take part in this year's Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cashmere. This 44th edition of singlehanded offshore racing's unofficial world championship will make 23 years and 15 years since the first two of Desjoyeaux's three wins in La Solitaire when he was sponsored by French clothing and footwear manufacturer, TBS, a partnership that has lasted 20 years.
It will be the 12th time Desjoyeaux was competed in the race that made his name and he will be gunning to become the first person in the history of La Solitaire to win it for a fourth time (he, Jean le Cam and Philippe Poupon all have three Solitaire wins apiece).
TBS had only existed for one year when in 1979 when they first sponsored Pierre Follenfant in the Solitaire, then known as the 'L'Aurore'. Follenfant subsequently entered a TBS-backed IMOCA 60 in the first Vendee Globe, coming home in fifth place. Follenfant then handed the sponsorship on to the new kid on the block, Michel Desjoyeaux, who after his Solitaire victory in 1992 and again, this time in the colours of TBS, in 1998 that he earned the nickname 'Le Professeur'. Desjoyeaux has since gone on to become the most successful singlehanded offshore racer of all time - with victories in the OSTAR/Transat, Route du Rhum, and of course being the only person to have won the Vendee Globe two times.
Desjoyeaux's first race under the colours of TBS will take place next week when he competes in the Solo Arrimer, next Wednesday, 9 April from a port where he is well known - Les Sables d'Olonne.
Eric Lairet, Directeur General of TBS said: ""Between us and Michel, since 1995, we have had a long lasting relationship. Today this partnership makes sense in our shared history and gives us an opportunity to write our future, a future that is rooted in the 'original spirit' of our brand, namely: the sea, sailors and competition. The story is based on the TBS nautical world and was marked by the victories of Michel for almost 20 years."
Desjoyeaux added: "TBS and me - it's a tale of two linked destinies. They have given me a lot and I think they have quite a record. They have always supported me and when I went on more ambitious projects, they were always discreetly present. For almost 20 years between us, it has always been the win, win, win. But best of all has been the frank, honest, direct, simple and very human image of the company and its staff. So coming together in June for La Solitaire, 15 years after our last victory together, without ever having left - I think it's great! Such loyalty between a brand and an athlete is rare, almost unique. But for me and TBS, it is no time for nostalgia. The brand has evolved since 1998, but one thing has not changed, our common goal: 15 years ago, we were better for our association and it is the same today."