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Figure skating: Bruno Massot, the battered course of a champion on ice



At the time of the European Championships, which begin this Wednesday, January 12 in Estonia, the French skaters are under no illusion: the podium hopes are almost non-existent in the absence of the star couple of ice dance Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who preferred to ignore the competition so as not to risk contamination with Covid-19 within a month of the Beijing Olympics.

→ ANALYSIS. Beijing Winter Olympics: athletes anticipate the Games under cover

This zero point on the medal table reflects the state of hexagonal skating under reconstruction. On the side of Normandy in particular, where, however, a beautiful story has been told in recent months: that of Bruno Massot, the native of the country who went to gild his reputation in Germany, Olympic champion under the Germanic flag in 2018 at the PyeongChang Games, back today in his club in Caen with a project in line with the desire for federal renovation. The realization of a dream, which took very devious ways to come true.

Olympic gold for Germany

First fork in 2014. Bruno Massot flies to Germany, to join the skater with whom he wants to relaunch, Aljona Savchenko. Leaving his long-standing club, the Caen sports and leisure artist (Acsel), was not the first idea. With his trainer Jean-François Ballester, Bruno Massot was thinking rather of bringing his future partner to France. Except that the French Ice Sports Federation is dragging its feet. On the contrary, his German counterpart offers the champion all the facilities to move. “The difference was huge, and I first thought about my career”, says the skater.

Bruno Massot settles across the Rhine. Jean-François Ballester, after twenty years of service in Caen, set out to found a high-level training center in Switzerland, while continuing to coach his foal. Four years later, the consecration. It was written ? Not really. “For eighteen months, the French Federation refused to release me, emphasizes Bruno Massot. I trained, but without the possibility of competing. I was living on € 200 per month. Obviously, it was not the ideal for skating serenely. When the situation was resolved, there were injuries, nothing was ever easy. So yes, the medal is beautiful, but what sacrifices! “

It does not appear on the 4 minutes and 30 minutes of the free development of the couple in PyeongChang. The tandem is weightless, succeeding in tricks and carried to perfection. At the time of the verdict of the judges, it is a torrent of tears. “I had enormous stress, I skated like a lion, with rage, Bruno Massot saw again. Twenty-three years of career that were played out there, in a few minutes. Afterwards, everything gave up. “

The return of the child prodigy

Bruno Massot finished in style, with a world title in stride. Time to put away the skates, to go train with Jean-François Ballester in Switzerland. But his mentor died six months later. “All my life, I never made a decision without his advice, loose the champion. I was lost, without landmarks. “ The Covid also complicates the situation. So with his wife, Bruno matures the idea of ​​returning home. At the turn of the year 2021, he called the president of Acsel in Caen.

→ ANALYSIS. French sports practice at half mast

“Bruno’s phone call presenting me his training center project was timely, indicates Ludovic Le Guennec. With the Covid, we had lost nearly 40% of our young people. We had to start from zero, on detection. Bruno was helping us to come out of a rather depressive period. “ It was still necessary to organize new occupancy slots for the ice rink, to obtain the support of local communities, of the federation. But this time, all the planets align. “I arrived in May 2021 on a red carpet, with a federation determined to rebuild by betting on new talents that I want to develop”, rejoices the gold medalist.

The center already has a dozen students. Bruno Massot is looking to recruit skaters and hopes to eventually have six couples. The structure must gain momentum, with a second training track that will have to be built by 2026, says the municipality. “In the meantime, we have to adapt and be patient, but we are on the right track”, assures the champion who already sees one of his young couples with astonishing progression skating in Milan in 2026. Bruno Massot believes in it. With determination. And also a lot of emotion: “I am in my ice rink, where it all began, and at the edge of the track in place of Jean-François Ballester who would have wanted so much to found a center here in Caen. It’s done. Let’s be up to it. “

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Reduced numbers at the European Championships

In Tallinn, the blue delegation will consist of three pairs, a skater and a skater. But getting a podium would be a miracle. The last time the Blues posted a virgin record at the Euro, it was in 2014, the first continental competition of the ice dance tandem Gabriella Papadakis-Guillaume Cizeron. Since then, the duo has always held its place. The Blues will still count on the two champions at the Beijing Games to win a medal. They will be accompanied by the two skaters Adam Siao Him Fa and Kevin Aymoz, to complete the weakest French delegation in the history of the Games.

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Sports

Charlie Dalin: “Thoroughly from the start of the Transat Jacques-Vabre”



No more slaloms on the pontoons trying to avoid meeting, taking a selfie with a childhood friend. At 10:18 am this Sunday, November 7, his boat must leave the pontoons for the open sea, while waiting for the cannon to fire at 1:27 pm Since winning the last edition of the Jacques-Vabre double-handed Transat and afterwards his arrival at the top of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d’Olonne last January (1), Le Havrais has become the local star.

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

“It’s tiring but fun, especially with the kids. When I was little, I never missed a departure from Jacques-Vabre, I went to school near the docks, my grandparents lived nearby ”, told, a few hours before boarding, the navigator now installed in Brittany.

When the line is cut, media concerns will be far away, because he and Paul Meilhat, his co-skipper (he refutes the term teammate, devaluing according to him) will not have to run out, otherwise they will take five hour penalty, according to a new provision of the regulations. When a finish is sometimes played down to the minute, no navigator takes the risk any more… Even if the game of starting in front, to be where the wind is most favorable, is worth the effort. “History shows that the race is already partly played out of the Channel: those who are in front at this time often remain so”, explains the navigator who will be able to push fully for two days, without or hardly sleeping, his dear “Apivia”.

The importance of calm winds

“In 2019, it was his very first race and we won, and in the Vendée, frankly, he was great, fast in the strong wind and especially in the calm. “ Because the navigator delivers the recipe for victory through a formula whose salt he savor: “You win by going quickly from time to time, but above all by going slowly for as little time as possible”, he smiles. In other words, a race is won first in calm winds, when the boat is dragging just a little less than those of the little comrades. This is how he won the Jacques-Vabre in 2019, negotiating better than the leader of the time, Jérémie Beyou, the “Doldrums of the doldrums”. Translate: the absence of wind in the southern tropical zone.

Winner of the last edition, he is “Fully motivated” for the double. “It’s my race, at home, he emphasizes. I know that there is a very tough competition, but I also know that I will be able to pull hard on the machine that I know perfectly and which will take me to the next objective, the Route du Rhum 2022. (alone). Then, his beautiful 18-meter yellow friend will pass into other hands, the sponsor preferring to build him a brand new ship for the Vendée Globe 2023. “The next one will use the same philosophy, but taking advantage of everything we have learned in sailing over the past five years where we have progressed by leaps and bounds. “

Human-sized machines

Still developed by Mer et Concept, the company of navigator-engineer François Gabart, racing in the Ultim category, the new “Apivia” will remain faithful to the philosophy common to both men: to use the best of technology for the benefit of performance, but also safety and ergonomics: “Apivia was one of the first with a closed cockpit. The idea is to have everything close at hand and to go out only when necessary. It’s less tiring and more productive in terms of performance and alertness. “

→ READ. “My son gave me the gift of joining as a teammate”

Far from the legend of sailors, hair in the wind wavering under the heavy sea, the success of the Imocas, monohulls of 18 m, cannot be denied. “The Ultims multihulls are very impressive boats, magnificent machines, which give an image of sailing in which many sailors or spectators do not find themselves., assures the browser. Imoca is performance and adventure on a human scale. ” The figures prove him right: forty are in the ports and eleven under construction. There will be a lot of people on the Sables d’Olonne quays in November 2023.

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→ PODCAST. “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”

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Sports

Sailing: five flying and fragile giants on the Transat Jacques-Vabre



This 15e Transat Jacques-Vabre is the first round of a battle that will lead the Ultime class to their holy grail, solo round the world, in 2023. For the first time together over such a long distance (13,900 km), the five multihulls will compete in flying mode, since they will be out of the water between 50 and 70% of the time.

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

“In 2018, during the last Route du Rhum (single-handed transatlantic race), the Ultimes lifted themselves up on their boards at times but there they will spend most of the race completely in the air, and that changes everything”, explains Francis Le Goff, race director.

The disaster of the Route du Rhum 2018

The boss of the Jacques-Vabre is a little worried about having to monitor remotely, night and day, for two weeks, these boats, which are both overpowered and more vulnerable as the speed increases. The Ultimes now largely hold an average of 70 km / h with peaks approaching 100 km / h. At this rate, any incident can have serious consequences.

→ PORTRAIT. Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

In 2018, while they were not going so fast yet, four of the six boats entered on the Route du Rhum had suffered damage, including a dramatic sinking for the People’s Bank IX by Armel Le Cléac’h who had broken up. François Gabart had finished at low speed because of a piece of mushy hull.

Have the lessons been learned? For these two skippers engaged this time on brand new machines that are even more efficient, People’s Bank XI and SVR Lazartigue, the question mark is huge. Since the launch in the spring, neither of these two machines has sailed as much as it will have to do in this race. Suddenly, the two sailors planned not to shoot the beast too much. “Clearly we are not going to win”, slips François Gabart. “This race will be an initiation, we still have a lot to discover on the boat”, complete Armel Le Cléac’h.

The other three boyfriends will not have these questions. Franck Cammas will give the horses to Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, a mount damaged in 2018 but considerably improved and reinforced. The fourth, Actual, is super reliable, because it is the old one Macif by François Gabart, with whom the Charentais had broken in 2017 the record for the solo round the world in 42 days.

150 sensors and cameras

As for Thomas Coville, with his Sodebo 3, Launched two years ago, it is right in the middle of the class, between older boats and new ones, at the heart of the difficult equation that is eternally offered to sailors: performance versus reliability. “After my damage to the Route du Rhum, I told myself that the decision to maintain the pace or to slow down could no longer rest on the sole intuition or experience of the sailor, we needed serious decision aids that we did not have. “

→ PORTRAIT.Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer

On his new boat, as on those of its competitors, dozens of sensors or cameras have been placed on all the boat’s key points, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. “There is no such thing as zero risk, but we have made a giant leap in reliability, assures the skipper. As soon as something goes wrong, an indicator light comes on in the cockpit. It allows you to analyze, compare this information with others and take the time to think before deciding. “

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→ PODCAST. “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”

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Sports

Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind



Will we see a Class 40, a small 12.20m monohull, toasting politeness at the finish line on a 32m flying multihull? This is the big bet of this 15e edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre, known as the Coffee Route, between Le Havre and South America or the Caribbean, supposed to reproduce the course of black gold in grains.

→ PORTRAIT.Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer

“Until now the little ones arrived weeks after the big multihulls. The party was long over and they found themselves in front of an empty dock. However, they too had crossed the Atlantic ”, explains Francis Le Goff, new race director of this Transat Jacques-Vabre, who has long been thinking of this differentiated course, unprecedented in the world of ocean racing.

Fifteen to eighteen days at sea for everyone

To achieve this result, the organization has planned to send the fastest boats to turn around an island off the Brazilian coast, before sending them up due north towards Martinique. The intermediate classes will descend less low, while the small monohulls will take an almost direct route. In total, almost half the miles covered for the little ones, but between fifteen and eighteen days at sea for the best in each category.

Supported by a new general manager, Caroline Caron, trained at the best sports marketing school, Amaury sport organization (ASO), the organizing company of the Tour de France, this innovation has won over the title sponsor Jacques-Vabre. Which looked favorably on this group welcome, synonymous with a popular festival in a new coffee-growing area for him, Martinique, chosen for the first time as the land of arrival for the Transat.

Some renowned skippers at the helm of large, fast boats have complained. ” I find it a pity. Sailing means going as quickly as possible from one point to another by choosing your route ”, proclaims Jérémie Beyou, winner of the 2011 edition and 3e in 2019 and 2013 in Imoca (the Vendée Globe monohulls). “Class 40 will not go into the Doldrums, this zone of turbulence which can make all the difference”, argues the skipper, leading in 2019 before finding himself stopped dead in the famous tropical zone.

→ PORTRAIT. Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

Obviously, on the class 40 side, we are happy. “It’s fairer, more motivating for us, explains Halvard Mabire, category president. It will also be much cheaper for ferrying or repatriating the return ships by freighter, that matters. “

A race that cultivates its difference

This innovation pushes this Transat Jacques-Vabre up one category in the ranking of major sailing races, dominated by the two essential solo races, Vendée Globe (round the world) and Route du Rhum (Saint-Malo – Guadeloupe) . “This race, the first edition of which, in 1993, took place alone, has always cultivated its difference. The main one is that it has been run since 1995 with two sailors per boat, explains Francis Le Goff. That changes everything, because the double crew makes it possible to push the boats to full capacity all the time, whereas on a single-handed, you have to moderate the pace while the sailor is sleeping. “

This dual control also allows young sailors to experience their first big transatlantic safely, under the control of seasoned old sea dogs. “For me, she will always be unique, testifies the star navigator François Gabart. It was my first transatlantic race in 2009. It is less known to the general public than the Route du Rhum, but it plays a very important role for sailors. “

Another originality, the race takes place every two years and not every four years, like the Vendée Globe or the Route du Rhum. “It allows new boats to run in and new sponsors to put a toe in the water”, explains Halvard Mabire. Class 40 has 45 crews at the start, a attendance record that can be found in all categories, since this 15e edition brings together 79 boats, twenty more than in 2019, where the Ultims multihulls were not present.

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

“It is a sign of good health for the Jacques-Vabre but also for the whole ocean racing which suffered less from the Covid-19 than other sports. The partners have found sailing to be a reliable sport ”, notes the director Francis Le Goff, delighted to see new sponsors on the sails and hulls of the boats moored until Sunday, November 7 on the quays of Le Havre.

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The big multihulls are back

Absent in 2019, the flying multihulls of the Ultim class will be at the start of the 15e Transat Jacques-Vabre. The opportunity for two brand new giants to test each other in a long distance race, the Banque Populaire XI by Armel Le Cléac’h and the SVR Lazartigue by François Gabart. These two developing boats are not favorites against the other three, which are much more seasoned: Sodebo (Thomas Coville), Actual (Yves Le Blévec) and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas). The Ultims will not participate in the next Transat Jacques-Vabre in 2023, because they will then be embarked on a great adventure: the solo multihull round the world.

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→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”

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Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer



First of all to evacuate the question that everyone has been asking him since he returned to dry land in December 2020, after his shipwreck in the Vendée Globe and his spectacular rescue by Jean Le Cam. “Yes it was stressful to be on the liferaft, he said. It’s been a long wait, but I never really doubted. Neither at the time, nor later. I never asked myself the question of stopping the sail. “

→ READ. Vendée Globe: Kevin Escoffier recovered by the French Navy

At 41, Kevin Escoffier does not want to drag this miracle status too long, a very heavy anchor to carry for any sailor. “This Vendée Globe is a failure and I want my revenge, especially since I am convinced that I did not make a false maneuver, on the contrary I was sailing cautiously”, explains the Malouin, who will have something to share with his skipper Armel Le Cléac’h, himself involved in a terrible accident during the Route du Rhum 2018.

“I was his engineer, I was there with him when we brought the dislocated wreck back to La Coruña (Spain). Something binds us forever, even if we don’t talk about it. You don’t have to, he knows, I know. “

“It’s Armel the boss, but I give my opinion”

Before these shipwrecks, which could have turned out much worse for either side, Escoffier and Le Cléac’h, it was the two fingers of one hand on a mainsheet. Almost ten years of designing the hull together, tracking down the extra kilograms, imagining the little trick to make life easier on board, it creates links comparable to those of a Formula 1 driver and his racing engineer. “He’s the boss, it’s his project, he’s the one who leaves, but I’m not the type not to give me my opinion, anyway that’s why I’m hired “, continues the sailor who has a double experience.

→ PORTRAIT. Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

Mechanical engineer with much sought-after advice in the sailing industry, he has also dragged his bag a lot on the most beautiful racing boats, alongside the biggest names in ocean racing, Michel Desjoyeaux, Pascal Bidégorry, Vincent Riou . And so Armel Le Cléac’h, who called on him as a team member and advisor for the Transat Jacques-Vabre.

This race marks the first flight of People’s Bank XI in a transatlantic, after a satisfactory first race in the Bay of Biscay, the 24 heures Azimut, won by the duo at the end of September.Pop bank, it’s a bit like my home, and then we don’t often have the opportunity to be invited on a boat like this, and I need it, mentally and physically, by the sea ”, explains the sailor.

At the same time, he is finalizing the construction of a new boat, financed by the loyal partner PRB, who had already built the one that disappeared in the South Atlantic. “We will soon be launching it and it will be operational in March. So I had a little time. When Armel called me, I jumped at the chance ”, continues the luxury crew, determined to take full advantage of the opportunity to sail relieved of the responsibilities resting on the skipper alone. And what a skipper! Triple winner of the Solitaire du Figaro and first of the Vendée Globe 2012. “Everyone knows, Armel, it’s class. In addition he wins, which makes him a rare guy, by definition, since there is only one winner. “

The difference is made on the ground

The difference between a good sailor and a winning sailor? “She is also done a lot around a table chatting with partners or behind a computer screen”, explains Kevin Escoffier, who divides the performance pie into three parts. “There is the quality of the good man, that’s the main thing, because a good sailor on a bad boat will always go faster than a bad better endowed one. Then we are in a mechanical sport and the part of the material is very important. But I put at the same level as the first two points the ability of the sailor to manage the project on the financial, technical and human level. “

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

A third for the sailor, a third for the boat and a third for the management? “That’s about it, but we should add the weather, which is a fourth third even bigger”, smiles the sailor, who is delighted that his sport, so framed and modeled on land, keeps a part of chance at sea. “Too bad for the cliché, but the beauty of sport is also due to this element of uncertainty. The quality of the sailor also means being able to get out of unforeseen situations. Seen like this, there is something positive in my accident on the Vendée Globe. I think I reacted well and I came out stronger ”.

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His inspiration – My father, a fisherman

“I have worked with a lot of great sailors and noticed that depending on the country, the definition changes. In France, we swear by solo sailors, elsewhere we praise America’s racers or the bosses of crewed races. I remember a stopover in Cape Town, South Africa, where no one knew Michel Desjoyeaux, who nevertheless won two Vendée Globe. For me a true sailor is someone who lives for the sea, able to sail all year round for work and go on cruises on vacation. Like my father for example. Him, we do not talk about it, he managed a fleet of fishing catamarans in Saint-Malo, and that is strong. He taught me everything. “

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→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”

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Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind



Him it’s him, me it’s me. At 37 years old, Marie Tabarly does not live with the constant references to her father, who died in the Irish Sea in 1998, which is constantly brought up to her. She also makes any request for an interview with the condition that one speaks to her above all… of something else. The fact remains that this famous name stops passers-by on the quays of Le Havre, where is moored awaiting departure Kostum-Lantana landscape, the Imoca (18 m monohull) of which she will share a quarter with the skipper Louis Duc.

This has always been the case for the one who shares with her father – he offered himself as soon as he had had three cents on an old baptized cutter Pen Duick – the taste of… old boats. Like this Kostum-Lantana landscape which burned down in 2019 on the same Le Havre quay, just before the start of the previous edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre. “Louis and I have known each other for a long time, I find it courageous to embark on the adventure of rearming a boat that was abandoned, she says, it is a beautiful story of man and sea. Sailboats deserve to live a long time, more than the time of a few races. “

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

On board, she will lend him a hand and her long sailing experience to bring the boat to port. “I’m here to help Louis bring him to the other side and take him in hand, with the aim for him to participate in the Vendée Globe in 2024”, explains the one who sailed for a long time in the early 2000s aboard Geronimo, the fastest multihull of its time, with the best pupil of his father, Olivier de Kersauson, at the helm.

“We are not the type to feel sorry for in the family”

Marie Tabarly also used her oilskin bottoms on Pen Duick which she inherited with her mother Jacqueline, in particular the first one, recently restored thanks to a fundraising campaign led by the heiress. And also the famous Pen Duick VI, large ketch designed for the first crewed round the world race of 1973, which returned to service with Captain Marie at the helm.

During the year 2019, the “VI”, as the insiders say, had started a world tour with stopovers and distinguished guests to reflect on the future of the planet, under the flag of the Elemen’Terre Project association that it launched in 2017. Cruel irony, the trip of this “Sailing think tank” was stopped by the Covid pandemic, the result of globalization that the Elemen’Terre project is trying to denounce. “Not easy to live with at the time, does she agree, but we are not the type to feel sorry for in the family. It is perhaps a bad for a good, because we were understanding that the connections by plane of our guests were not in phase with our project. “

→ PORTRAIT. Sailing: Violette Dorange, the offshore princess of the Apprentis d’Auteuil

A new tack will bring back Pen Duick VI to its glorious past through participation in 2023 in the Golden Globe Race, an old-fashioned round-the-world crewed race. “It’s a great challenge, and in addition we will try to recruit the crew in accordance with our values ​​on the basis of sailor skills but also a project in connection with our association”, explains the one who claims the freedom to jump from one horse to another.

“I never wanted one at the sea and I never left it”

Marie Tabarly put her career as an equine behaviorist on hold five years ago to embark on these adventures. And do not ask him if this return to the sea which took his father from him corresponds to the completion of mourning. “That is a journalist’s vision (and knock), she retorts. I never wanted it at the sea and I never left it. Two weeks after my father died, I was sailing on Pen Duick. I gave up riding because my horse got injured. “

Today the equine spends happy days as a father in the Breton meadows. “He gave me a foal. But when I stopped riding, I wanted to sail and I felt that my boat (Pen Duick VI) wanted to too. I’m 37 years old, no kid, at some point you have to go, we only have one life ”, underlines this pure Breton woman despite her mother’s half-Martinican ancestry.

“I like the cold, the rain, the wind, but I also have the hot blood of the fire of rum”, says the one who claims the right to live from her passion, even if it means facing skepticism vis-à-vis the multiple projects combining the veil of pleasure and the environment. “All are useful, and you spend more time on land behind your computer or phone, to get money, pay the crews, run the shop, than with your nose in the wind breathing the sea air. So yes, we live off what we love but it’s not alwayseasy days. “

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Her inspiration – Florence Arthaud

Among her models, there is her father Eric Tabarly, of course, on whom she spends as little as possible, but many others whose wake she admires. All have in common to have defended the two most precious goods according to her: the happiness of fulfilling her dreams and freedom. In the world of sailing, two personalities float: Olivier de Kersauson, with whom she has sailed quite a bit, and “the magnificent” Florence Arthaud, winner of the 1990 Route du Rhum who died in 2015 in a helicopter accident.

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→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”

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