Titouan Lamazou 27 years on
What does the Vendée Globe represent for you?
“My name remains associated with the race, so the Vendée Globe has belonged to me, if you like, for 26 years. At that time, the competitors were compared to gladiators. Everyone wondered where they were going and if they would come back. Today there are no longer the same questions. But with each edition, we know there will be damage and boats will be forced to retire. Since the start, there has been around the same percentage of boats finishing, around half of the fleet.”
What has been the biggest change?
“The first Vendée Globe was a surprise. No one could have imagined it would be done in 109 days. Now the bar is down to under 80 days after François Gabart’s performance. For me, the major change isn’t so much the technological evolution, as records are there to be broken, but more the change in terms of means of communication. Before we had the BLU radio, and it was easy not to reply, as it didn’t always work well. I tend to keep quiet anyway, so was quite happy with that. Now, we can see the skippers live on TV. I’d find that tough, but today’s competitors are used to that. The fact that there was so little info from out at sea meant that back ashore people’s imagination ran wild.”
What do you think about the foils?
“It’s the major new feature this year. We’ll wait and see. Eric Tabarly tried to fit foils to a Tornado back in 1976 and since then, people have been trying to get boats flying. So it’s no surprise that this is happening. It’s spectacular, but logical.”
What do you think about the line-up?
Over the past four years I have been in Mali, Niger, Mauritania, so far away from the world of sailing. For 26 years, it was my life. I don’t know many of the skippers, apart from Kito de Pavant and Jean Le Cam, who sailed with Eric Tabarly. I was pleased when he put my portrait of him on his bow.”
Is the Southern Ocean still something exceptional for you?
“There weren’t any compulsory waypoints, so we went a long way south. It was all rather crazy, but I think back then, there were fewer icebergs. There are more today because of global warming. It was extremely worrying to dive down in the Indian Ocean. Sailors were lost down there. We were scared and then there was the relief of rounding the Horn and getting out of there and back into the Atlantic. I love the Southern Ocean. Kersauson hated the Indian Ocean, but that is what I preferred. The seas can be huge, but there is always that special light. It’s fantastic.”
Do you miss sailing alone?
“I am often alone. You can be like that when you travel abroad. I like finding myself in places, where I don’t speak the language. Being an artist is a lonely life. The boat was a way for me to get from one place to another. I’m going to have a new boat built… The boat wil go around the world as slowly as possible, a floating workshop, which will moor up in bays and inlets. It will be a place to work and create.”