The 38-year-old Breton skipper will live alone at sea for 200 days in the Golden Globe Race 2022, a 30,000 nautical mile round-the-world trip through the three capes, without stopovers, without assistance and without modern means of communication.
The skipper, trained in Olympic sailing (Optimist, Laser, 49er) and Figaro is familiar with modern monohulls, in particular the Imoca PRB on which Kevin Escoffier raced the last Vendée Globe.
It is he, as the boat captain of PRB, who took care of this carbon boat until the last minutes before the start… But in the Golden Globe Race, Damien Guillou will start on a boat of only 11 meters, and without any electronic instrument.
Paper maps and sextant will be his only tools on board, for this competition which defies all the codes of modern navigation (no computers or satellite navigation aid, no automatic pilot, etc.).
It was in the Vendée Globe, last October, that the project began to germinate. So a member of the Imoca technical team PRB, Damien Guillou discusses with Jean-Jacques Laurent, President of the Vendée SME on the mythical pontoon of Sables d’Olonne.
The latter lets Damien know that he wants to realign a PRB boat on the Golden Globe Race and that he is looking for a skipper. Concentrated on the preparation of the 60 feet, the Breton hears but does not project himself immediately.
” When Jean-Jacques Laurent told me that, we were in the home stretch to prepare for the Imoca so I didn’t really react, even though this proposal obviously appealed to me. Following this discussion, I took the time to find out about the dates of the race and the idea gradually gained momentum. I was at this stage still in personal reflection. Afterwards I took the step to talk about it to my wife and I also discussed it with Paul Meilhat and Anthony Marchand, two childhood friends who know me well. It was only after having had their points of view that I returned to Jean-Jacques Laurent to inform him that I really wanted to embark on this project, he then replied Go! “
“ All the criteria are met for this Golden Globe Race! The racing aspect, my love of boats and the sea, my taste for technical preparation and adventure! Even if it may seem surprising, I find myself fully in this ordeal! I had carefully followed the 2018 edition, telling myself that it was both interesting and daring, but without imagining that I would one day take the start of this race. And doing it under the PRB colors really means something to me, I’m very proud of it! The story continues in a different way in a way and I’m very happy to have Kevin’s support in this project as well. His seamanship and his advice are very precious! “.
Total refit site
Supported in his approach by skipper Kevin Escoffier, Damien Guillou benefits from a whole PRB dynamic; Vincent Riou, former winner of the Vendée Globe under the colors of PRB in 2004, will notably take delivery of the boat in its structure to repair it. This Rustler 36, bought in February in Italy, will join Port-La-Forêt at the end of April.
This monohull, which perfectly meets the strict criteria of the Golden Globe Race, was manufactured on plans drawn before 1988 (1980). The sailboat will undergo a construction site of approximately two months: “ We are still awaiting the Italian authorizations for the exceptional transport which will be done by road. The health context complicates things a bit, but this should unblock soon. As soon as we have received the boat, it will go into the yard for a total refit. For the moment, it is in cruise configuration. The objective will be to put it in race mode and that requires significant changes. We are planning a relaunch at the end of June so that I will sail all summer to take it in hand and start qualifying for 2000 miles at the beginning of September.. “
While waiting for the deadline, Damien Guillou has started learning the sextant, essential on this race without electronic navigation instruments. ” I went two days for training in Toulouse with a person passionate about sextant who has made it his job. This allowed me to acquire the basics and since then I have been doing arithmetic exercises almost every day. When it’s sunny, I also go to the edge of the coast to do some surveys. The sextant can be frightening at first, but that’s not overwhelming! In no time, I managed to get by! I can’t wait to put it all into practice on the boat this summer! “
For Jean-Jacques Laurent, this project is the continuation of a beautiful meeting: “ I really wanted to return to this race. We took part in the first edition with Philippe Péché. And we discovered a universe totally different from the Vendée Globe. In the Vendée Globe, we are in a technological dimension and things have to go quickly. It is exciting. We have seen the enthusiasm generated by the edition which has just ended. On the Golden Globe Race, we maintain a relationship with the long term! It’s a whole different challenge, but it’s just as fascinating. It’s fantastic that Damien is wearing our colors. He was already in the PRB family. He’s a great sailor. He is very enthusiastic and has a very serious approach. I think it is very respectful to be part of the history of PRB with the tours of the world. He has our full confidence and also Kevin’s support, which is obviously important to us. It’s a very beautiful story that begins in view of this extremely difficult race.. “
The Golden Globe Race, created in 2018 to celebrate Robin Knox-Johnston’s round the world trip, is a 30,000 nautical mile round-the-world race, non-stop, unassisted and without modern means of communication, open to yachts from 32 to 36 feet built before 1988.
It was won in 2019 by Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, in 211 days and 23 hours; the 2nde edition of the Golden Globe Race will start on September 4, 2022 from Les Sables d’Olonne.
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Damien Guillou engages with PRB on the Golden Globe Race 2022! – ActuNautique.com