Transat Jacques-Vabre: Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben, first to arrive in Martinique

Their nerves put to the test for two weeks, Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques-Vabre on the night of Monday to Tuesday, November 23 at Fort-de-France in Martinique, to win. in the 15m multihull category, ahead of the racing superstars, the Ultimes, whose course is longer.

The tandem, associated for the second time in the doubles race, burst into joy after being the first of the 75 boats still in the race (out of 79 at the start) to cross the line in the bay of Fort-de-France, at 9:54 p.m. Monday local time (2:54 a.m. Paris time).

→ READ. Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind

They thus won the race in the Ocean Fifty category (15m multihulls), one of the four classes of sailboats entered in the race. The organizers have set up three different routes depending on the class of the boat to allow a relatively grouped arrival.

The first Ultimes expected at midday

“It’s a lot of happiness, we are happy with the efforts we have made over a fortnight. It’s awesome ! These are rare moments in a lifetime, and that is priceless ”, launched with a broad smile on his face Sébastien Rogues, who answered journalists from his boat moored to the pontoon lit by the full moon and in the absence of the public due to the curfew in force in Martinique.

The two sailors arrived before the fastest boats in the world, the Ultimes (32 m long flying maxi-trimarans), which have a course a third longer than the Ocean Fifty, and whose current leader, the tandem Franck Cammas-Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) is expected from midday Tuesday (Paris time).

“It’s always a pleasure to arrive before the Ultimes, it must be said! They really didn’t have the same course as us and, anyway, they’re the most beautiful boats in the world with the best sailors in the world. That won’t change. But there is little chance in life when you can win the Jacques-Vabre and even less win it in front of the Ultimes, so maybe this one will be the only one in our life ”, rejoiced Sébastien Rogues, at the end of a grueling race. “This Transat Jacques-Vabre was longer than expected, we were all a little surprised, it was a lot of psychological commitment”, summarized Matthieu Souben.



Matthieu Jalibert, the boss size lining

Everything could have started from there, from that day in February 2018 when he donned the blue jersey for the first time against Ireland. If he had unveiled his talent in the eyes of all, struck the spirits, who knows then? Perhaps today he would be the irremovable opener of the XV of France, Matthieu Jalibert. But no. For his first selection, at barely 19, against the gang at Jonathan Sexton, he only remained on the field for half an hour, victim of a serious knee injury. Three years later, this Sunday February 14th against the same Irish fellows for the second match of the XV of France in the Tournament of VI Nations, will the nasty memory trot in the head of the man?

→ THE FACTS. Rugby: France outclasses Italy (50-10)

This is not the kind of Matthieu Jalibert. That a twist of fate disrupts its trajectory, and it prefers to resume its course as quickly as possible by looking at the horizon rather than the rearview mirror. And the horizon is the 2023 World Cup for which he intends to make himself indispensable, in interchangeable complement of Romain Ntamack, the opening opener of the Blues until his double fracture in the jaw at the end of 2020. No need to ask to Matthieu Jalibert if the role of understudy suits him. The important thing for him is to offer a credible alternative. He applies himself to it.

A laborious journey

Application has been his trademark since the time when, as a kid in New Caledonia, he accompanied his military father and rugby player to all training sessions. At six, he began to tease leather. When he returned to mainland France, at the age of 9, he necessarily enrolled in the Bègles-Bordeaux rugby school. He says it pretty quickly, he wants to be professional. It is not really cut out for it. At the end of the third, he measures less than one meter sixty and displays a puffy face. His size does not appeal to the hopes of Talence. So what ? It applies even more.

He strengthens himself, sharpens his intelligence of the game. In a club, he passes the categories with fierce determination. The dubbing in blue comes late, among those under 19. The course is not that of the first of the class Romain Ntamack which makes the heyday of the Bleuets. But Matthieu Jalibert received the reward for his efforts by starting in Top 14 in the fall of 2017 with Union Bordeaux-Bègles (UBB), only to find himself propelled among the Blues just four months later. Thank you Jacques Brunel, then new coach of the XV of France and former manager of the UBB.

First selection, injury. Four months away from the field, a recovery then a relapse, an operation and six months still in rehabilitation. This is how we miss the 2019 World Cup and watch Romain Ntamack don Fabien Galthié’s master playing suit for the Blues. All the more reason to apply again.

Channeling the soloist’s enthusiasm

The return is dazzling. Matthieu Jalibert becomes an essential part of the UBB. What he loves above all: playing elusive soloists. “I need a playful state of mind where I am given a lot of free rein”, he confides to the team in fall 2020. He is creative, and proud to be: “I love feeling the domination over the opponent, this feeling that he will not be able to do anything. “ As he is also a bit of a lodger and a strong conversationalist on social networks, he soon carves out a reputation for being pretentious.

→ ANALYSIS. Six Nations Tournament: Act II of the XV of France starts well

From now on, the mad horse is trying in any case to better channel his enthusiasm, in particular by finding the France team where his room for maneuver is more limited. Playing more at the foot, knowing how to be patient and impose his tempo on the collective, he knows his margins of progress. He turned a corner in the fall for the Nations Cup, particularly in the final against England where he was decisive.

After the injury of Romain Ntamack, he can take the keys today with more confidence. But without blazing. Against Italy at the opening of the Tournament, he was serious. He complies with the requirements of Fabien Galthié, curbs his desires of wide field to put himself at the service of the group. Proof of intelligence, if needed. This time it is not to miss the boat. If he confirms in the momentum of his last performances – he will barely celebrate his tenth selection on Sunday – he promises a beautiful puzzle to Fabien Galthié in the future. Or a supreme luxury: having two great talents at the opening. Abundance of goods …


Romain Ntamack soon available

Victim of a double jaw fracture on December 27, 2020, Romain Ntamack should soon return to training with his teammates from the Toulouse Stadium, club manager Ugo Mola has just announced. It is therefore no longer impossible that the opener is available for the end of the VI Nations Tournament, the last two matches for the Blues taking place on March 13 (against England) and March 20 (against Wales).