Between his new full-time job as a newly qualified father and the monitoring of the refit to his other baby, the Class40 #159 Banque de Léman, Valentin Gautier is a pretty busy man! Valentin and his co-skipper Simon Koster have been hard at work, optimising their already powerful Class40! “The objective is to make the structure of the boat a little stronger, just as they’ve done with the second and third version of our Mach40.4, the engine position has been slightly set back and the ballast system is being overhauled!” explains Valentin. “We’re aiming for a mid-February launch. By then, a good part of the Vendée Globe fleet will have arrived in Les Sables d’Olonne.” The Swiss skipper says to The Race Around’s Emmanuel Versace as he shares his feelings about the unprecedented finish about to unfold!
“It’s just amazing to see so many boats together, competing for the podium, competing for first! I don’t think this has ever happened in a Vendée Globe. On a more general note, I find that the placement of skippers throughout the fleet is about where each project should be. Of course there are skippers like Pip Hare who has raced an amazing race. We’re seeing that most are very well prepared and have the ability to achieve the goals they’ve set themselves. Alan Roura (La Fabrique) has shown a lot of courage and resilience. Perhaps he’s not where he should be but he’s giving everything he can to counter the seemingly endless bad luck he’s had.
Another note is that a lot of the projects that were perhaps lesser known to the general public are taking centre stage. This is exciting. I am of course thinking of Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2). I don’t think anyone would have had him fighting for first. With a controlled budget and a good team, we’re seeing we’re able to do great things in the Vendée and this is rather good news for the IMOCA class and sailing in general.
Louis has made the right choices at the right time. Already in the St-Hélène high, his choice to head southwest to get some wind had paid off. And not many of them did the same. His repair off Macquarie Island was truly impressive. No one expected him there, he sails uninhibited, relaxed while others are under more pressure to make a result.
I don't know him personally, but those who do describe him as someone who is always super positive. He must have a hell of a mind. His repair at Macquarie must have galvanized him because everything could have stopped. He's really on an upward spiral.
It’s very interesting to see how the skippers choose the options based on the condition of their boat at this end of the race. We can see that Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is having a hard time controlling Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2). Everyone hides their technical concerns, we try to guess their problems according to their strategy. We will have the answers at the finish when they reveal the details of their race. There are still 5-6 boats that can claim the podium. They will give everything in this last part of the race. With this big depression that some will encounter in the North Atlantic, I hope that all will manage to return to Les Sables d'Olonne without any problem."
Photo 1: Roesti Sailing Team
Photo 2: Louis Burton Autour du Monde