Lagravière’s look at the race (part 3)
Seven skippers have been victims of collisions with UFOs so far. Five of them, including you, have been forced to abandon. What do you think about that?
I've noticed the frequency and the scale of the impacts. Some boats, like that of Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine) were severely damaged. It's a long race, so the risks are magnified. If our Earth is polluted it stands to reason our oceans will be too. It's sad...We'll have to find solutions for it. In terms of the IMOCA races, the element of luck is becoming too important. The boats are well prepared, we're sailing well. Some pass through the cracks, others do not. But it doesn't reflect any inadequacies in our commitment or preparation.
Is it possible to find solutions to avoid these risks?
We'll obviously ask ourselves that question after the Vendée Globe because this accumulated experience is important and involves a lot of boats. Could you have a system for identifying floating objects? Something to sense potential threats or a way of cushioning the leading edges of appendages like the rudders against impacts? Damage is not related to speed. It doesn't make much difference if you hit an object at 15 knots or 18 knots. But you can't create a slow-motion Vendée Globe just because of the fear of hitting a UFO. For collisions with animals, it's a little different. The faster the boat, the less time the animal has to see and avoid it. We really have to look at this issue again because often, when we hit a marine animal, we kill it.
Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine) was the victim of a major leak following a collision with a UFO. Paul Meilhat (SMA) suffered serious damage to his keel actuator. Are you going to form a trio?
Yes. I was very affected by those two abandonments because we were the three rookies from Le Figaro. Thomas's damage was serious, he was really in danger. For Paul, there is no risk for his life for now, but he's very far from land. It's quite sad because we're the same generation, we have the same culture of offshore racing and we'd sailed well. We would have liked to show what we are capable of...