Among them are François Gabart, Alain Gautier, Armel Le Cléac'h, Michel Desjoyeaux and Vincent Riou. The common theme is that they are all Vendée Globe winners who have become coaches, advising and mentoring new talent as they pursue their own successes.
Gautier Giving Back.
Alain Gautier, winner of the 1996 Vendée Globe, went on to work closely with Ellen MacArthur and was instrumental in her second place in the 2000-1 race. He has now been working with Isabelle Joschke for three years, since they worked closely as competitors on La Solitaire du Figaro, both racing under the colours of the Generali group. He was impressed by her drive and her talent and
“I have always retained strong memories of working with Ellen. The idea of passing on knowledge and expertise fascinates me, because it is not just about the transmission of the information but it is the knowledge they will bank it and use it according to their personality and their needs. And I enjoy working with a woman again. For me it was obvious straight away that Isabelle has a real talent offshore. When she told me about her desire to do the Vendée Globe, we decided to set up a project together.”
In fact Alain is also project manager but shares all his experience and ideas to help fast track Joschke to her highest possible level.
"Today, projects have become so complex that you can very quickly get bogged down in the technological, management and administration aspects. I take the weight there and Isabelle can focus on the things that she needs to. She has some excellent characteristics, she is very clear about the defined pathways she wants to take to get where she wants to be. I am here to take on the role of the team owner, if you like, the main responsibilities which saves time and effort for Isabelle.”
But does that render Joschke as simply the ‘race driver in training?’.
“With Alain we are in step with each other and what the roles and responsibilities are. He helps me structure the project, he brings all his technical expertise and his accumulated knowledge of the race and ocean racing as a whole. But I am the master of my approach.”
Armel Le Cléac'h, a new kind of enjoyment
For Armel Le Cléac'h the brilliant winner of the last edition, the Vendée Globe adventure has taken a new direction as he works with the young French woman Clarisse Crémer who has had something of rapid rise into the spotlight since 2016. Hard working and talented she took second in the series division in the 2017 Mini Transat and now is being guided along the path to Vendée Globe by Le Cléac’h, a challenge which he is enjoying immensely.
“This is a very different kind of project but the processes require the same logical approach. The main goal Clarisse can finish her Vendée Globe and she proves she is worthy of her place in the fleet. We have gone for a proven, reliable boat (in the former SMA, which as Banque Populaire was second in 2012 to Francois Gabart’s Macif). We will help Clarisse in all the technical choices. And with the experience of my experience of three Vendée Globe we can make fast progress. He has already helped others as mentor/coach on the Figaro circuit, but this is Armel’s first experience in the IMOCA.
"Yes it's clear that we are working on a bigger scale. But we have time, almost two years to build up. At first, we will focus on the techniques and mastery of the boat itself, the IMOCA. I work on the complementary aspects like project management and then we look to the race itself. Clarisse is conscious and motivated, she is hungry to do well. So, in the end I really don’t have too many worries.”
Clarisse Crémer says she feels she is not really into the mindset of the Vendée Globe. "When I was contacted by the team, I already had my project to take part in La Solitaire du Figaro. And my sponsor is happy to go with this project. And the Figaro gives me a bit more valuable experience before taking on the IMOCA project. From my first contact with the team, I realised what a great team we have, very professional. It's fascinating to see how everything is measured, calibrated, logged. And then it is exciting to know I will learn so much from them. But there is a long way to go, a long way. I can’t yet see myself racing in the Southern Ocean, but I will.”
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