March 2, 2021

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Vendée Globe, two “anachronistic” heroines

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Seized on the phone between two maneuvers, in the middle of a last weather depression, the voice cracked, while their arrival became clearer, on February 23 and 24. Isabelle Joschke and Samantha Davies remember the arrival of the first sailors at Les Sables d’Olonne, when both had the means to slip into the top 5 of this Vendée Globe, or even higher. “I had just passed Cape Horn, I told myself that I should have been fighting with them and I still had a month at sea before I hug my son”, explains Samantha Davies.

→ PORTRAIT. Samantha Davies, the more than solitary of the Vendée Globe

She is still not done with the troubles, a stone’s throw from an arrival that she refuses to anticipate. “I broke my forestay (the rope connecting the mast to the front of the boat), I had to climb at the head of the mast, get bruised everywhere for a makeshift repair with another cable, I’m missing sails, it’s still dangerous ”, warns the one who moved the world of sailing by choosing to return to sea out of the race, after a stopover following a violent collision in the South Atlantic.

The Franco-German Isabelle Joschke, who precedes her by a few tens of miles, was close to Brazil when the first made landfall. After sailing with a very high risk of overturning due to the keel damage which forced her to take a break, she was disappointed not to be part of the Vendée festival. While being focused on deciding whether or not to leave. “ I wanted to send everything for a walk and take the plane back to Paris, she admits, but it was in anger. JI quickly told myself that I couldn’t leave my boat like that, he and I had left together for a world tour, we had to finish it together. “

A lot of men wouldn’t have left

Finish what has been started, take the boat to port, like a good sailor. Obviously for the sailors of the first editions of the Vendée Globe, such as the two pioneers of women’s ocean racing, Isabelle Autissier and Catherine Chabaud, who had also chosen to join Les Sables d’Olonne outside the ranking, with their injured boat. But the use has been lost in recent editions, which are more focused on performance than adventure. “A lot of guys got back on the plane when they could have continued after a damage. They were annoyed not to have played for the win ”, says the man who probably knows the most racing secrets, Doctor Chauve, Vendée Globe doctor.

“Samantha suffered her damage when she had not even passed the Cape of Good Hope, she had two months alone at sea with her disappointment, I have less merit because I was able to pass the Cape Horn during the race, that nobody will take it away from me ”, specifies Isabelle Joschke who has not lost a crumb in the race of her colleagues thanks to a 100% female WhatsApp group which has crackled since the start on November 8. ” We, the girls, there were six of us at the start and each had an extraordinary race, she continues. Take Pip Hare, she’s 19e with the oldest boat in the fleet ”,

We must look at the inner path

“It’s a strong enough symbol to see that the two fastest girls on paper, with the best boats, Isabelle and I, are out of the race, Samantha Davies continues. I will not go so far as to say that it is more beautiful like that, it would be too easy because I already have the finisher trophy on my shelf (she finished 4e of the Vendée Globe 2007-2008). But the human experience has been extraordinary, she confides. I was afraid of dying after my collision, then the fear when leaving, that made me stronger, I think ”.

A serenity shared by Isabelle Joschke. “Of course, I still have heart pangs thinking about the standings, she agrees. It will last a bit after the finish, but it will fade over time. A good place would have rewarded years of work, but you have to look at the inner path, glides the navigator. I now know who I am, I know my faults and my qualities and basically, all this damage puts us in our place. That of very small human beings facing nature. “

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They sailed hand in hand

One had a keel repaired but not necessarily very safe, the other almost dismasted… Isabelle Joschke and Samantha Davies went up the Atlantic side to side, a few tens of miles away, in case one should have had to. help the other. For a while, the project of a group arrival on Tuesday 23 February was abandoned, because Samantha Davies’ disabled boat is much slower. In addition, the sponsor of the Briton, Mécénat Surgery Cardiac, preferred to organize a separate event during its scheduled arrival on Wednesday 24, around the children operated on thanks to the money collected along the way.

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