In early January, Port-la-Forêt is more or less asleep. Most of the IMOCAs are sheltered in the warmth of the sheds, where they are undergoing their winter refit before they tackle the final two races to prepare for the Vendée Globe. Romain Attanasio’s boat is no exception to the rule. Meanwhile, the skipper is trying to make the most of the time to convince new partners to join the adventure.
Vendée Globe: Romain, how is your project going?
Romain Attanasio: the boat went into the yard this week. I’ll be taking advantage of the month of January to try to win over some potential partners. I have got two thirds of the budget. One third is from Pure, my headline partner and the second from the business club that we set up with around fifty partners. So we are still missing the final third, which could come from a joint sponsor.
VG: Are you carrying out any major work this winter?
RA: Not really. The main thing is to slim the boat down by 600 kilos. We decided that was vital if we wanted to be up there with the best classic IMOCAs without foils. In general we can say that any weight savings lead to a cut in the elements offering comfort. We’ll be going towards something that is fairly spartan.
VG: That is a radical choice…
RA: It is the only way for us to rejuvenate the boat for so little money. I haven’t forgotten that during my first Vendée Globe, I was aboard Le Pingouin, a boat that was known for being far from comfortable. In some ways, you could say it was a good learning process. We decided to stick with a fairly traditional configuration and not go down the road of fitting foils. Apart from the fact that it costs a lot of money, I’m not convinced that adding foils will really change much in terms of the performance of the boat. It is going to be more efficient to slim her down.
VG: How do you feel about your second Vendée Globe?
RA: When you are a parachutist, people say the second jump is the scariest. It is a bit like that for us. On your second go, you can’t be reckless like the first time. You know how hard it is to go out there and sail in those parts of the world. It is not so much a physical problem as a mental one. You have the sword of Damocles hanging over your head all the time: it just takes a bit of damage, a collision with a UFO and the adventure is over. As we are so far from everything, it quickly becomes a real drama. You have to understand that in the Vendée Globe, you have one potential foul up each day. When you set off for the first time, you haven’t experienced that before. Now, we know what we are stepping into. That is why I decided I needed to get some help and work with someone to psych me up. Normally, it’s not something I go for, but having thought about it, I think now that it can bring me a lot. Deep down, I’m very much a loner. I love that. But in the Vendée Globe, what with being so far away, seeing how long it lasts and how stressful it is, there are times when things are harder than others.
VG: What are you aiming for with this second attempt?
RA: I don’t have any illusions. With the boat at my disposal (Jean Le Cam’s former Synerciel that became Newrest-Matmut in 2016), I cannot hope for anything more than getting to the Top 10. I have given myself a target in terms of the time it takes me. If it takes me 85 days (or three less than Jean Le Cam in 2012-2013), I’ll be happy. The rankings are very unpredictable as they will depend on how much damage there is in the fleet. Apart from the podium places, it doesn’t mean that much. I have been training a lot with Damien Seguin. He will be a good pace setter for me in the next Vendée Globe.
VG: How do you view the current fleet?
RA: The new foilers are exciting. I annot really conceive of what on board life will really be like for the sailors over long periods. I've had the chance to go sailing on Sam's boat and I can tell you the impacts, the slamming is pretty hard. On these new boats we are pretty much at the limit of physical requirement. In saying that if I had to choose I would tend to focus on one of the two Verdier plans (APIVIA and Advens for Cybersecurity) which seem to me more livable, less extreme. I'm also curious to see how Armel Tripon’s Manuard plan (L'Occitane en Provence) will go.
VG: Last question: Sam Davies, your partner, will also be competing on the next Vendée Globe. How is your family life organized?
RA: We are straight with each other. It is a bit of an additional layer of stress for sure. As a sailor, it is very comforting to be able to lean on your 'other half', the one who stays on shore, especially since our son is in school. We are currently thinking of solutions to make it as good and unsettle him as little as possible for him. But this is a new situation. We realized this during our Christmas holidays that the Vendée Globe is almost tomorrow. It was the last real moments that we could spend with family, we tried to enjoy it and switch off from everything.
With Sam, we never had the need to communicate much over the phone. Both of us have always needed to be 'in' our race. Usually we mostly corresponded by e-mail, this is a habit that we will keep. Writing requires you to step back and not be influenced by the immediate emotions. This will be all the more important since we will both also be at sea: there is no need to add pressure to what we are already experiencing.
© Copyright 2011-2020 - Nautica Report - Reg. Tribunale di Roma n.314 - 27-12-2013 - Editore Carlo Alessandrelli - Conc. Pubb. Wave Promotion srls - P.Iva: 12411241008