For nearly seven weeks Sébastien Josse onboard BT was a major contender in the world’s toughest solo sporting challenge, the Vendée Globe. Sébastien played it wise tactically, making the most of the boat’s potential, assuring the vast majority of observers who had put him amongst the top 3 favourites that they had been right to do so.
Sébastien Josse has been with the frontrunners from day one and BT led the Vendée Globe fleet seven times over the first 40 days of the race, enjoying an immense close tactical battle with race favourite Loick Peyron as they headed at speed through the South Atlantic. As BT headed into the hostile Southern Ocean, Sébastien chose to sail a ‘fast but reasonable’ race holding on to the leading group as preservation of the boat was utmost in his mind as many of those around him fell victim to the South – Loick Peyron, Mike Golding, Dominique Wavre, Bernard Stamm, Yann Eliés, Jean-Pierre Dick. The roll call was getting longer and the BT team knew that at any time they could receive one of those heart-stopping phonecalls from their skipper.
Sadly, that day came on the 48th day of the race, when BT was knocked-down in 60-knot winds and towering seas. The capsize caused substantial and severe damage to the rudder system and the sheer force of water was enough to cause cracks to appear in the coach roof and central bulkhead. It was impossible to repair the damage and the only viable option was to head for New Zealand: “The Vendée Globe is one of the hardest challenges in the world, sometimes it lets you pass, sometimes it breaks you. I am just very sorry we can’t go to the end this time.”
Now only 15 of the 30 boats that started the Vendée Globe remain in the race and only time will tell how many of the solo skippers will make it to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne. But there is little doubt that many more exciting chapters have yet to be written about this incredible race. Disappointingly for Sébastien his Vendée story is over but already he is looking ahead to the IMOCA 2009 season of racing and the challenges the BT team will face together in the coming months!
BT is expected to reach New Zealand between Monday and Wednesday next week, dependent on the weather, and his shore team have already left Europe to meet him on his arrival.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016