The Transat CIC : News from onboard - Day 7


It must be the open sea air that makes me want to write. There was a time, not so long ago, when I had a notebook, a pen and I was in a 2000 IMOCA where I could write in the depths of my living cell. I was 23 and had no pretensions, I just wanted to make my dream come true: to do the Vendée Globe, the famous single-handed round-the-world sailing race. 

Today, I can barely sit still, our boats have become such war machines. But, despite the noise-cancelling headphones, I haven't forgotten the pleasure of feeling the water slide under the hull. In the background, I listen to music to remind me of certain phases of my life. As I write this message, Jacques Brel is singing, reminding me that another of my dreams was to visit his grave in the Marquesas. A dream I was also lucky enough to realize in my youth. But in life, you can't rest on your laurels, you have to look further ahead.

So, after two Vendée Globes, I wanted to go back. To prove to myself that I was capable of achieving the feat once again, because that's what it's all about. But in a different way, with a high-performance boat, to learn how to use and become the person I've always been deep down inside, but without school to learn, as a total autodidact. 

I surrounded myself, I worked, I gained self-confidence. I took some beatings... Oh, I've taken some over the last few years! I couldn't sail for myself any more, I kept thinking about other people and the way they think of me. I shut myself off. I was afraid of disappointing people. And that only gave me the opposite of what I wanted. 

Today, The Transat is more than just a race in my mind. It has to be earned as much as a Vendée Globe, just look at the number of retirements after 6 days of racing. This time, I set off without putting any pressure on myself. I wanted to sail for myself, trust myself, enjoy myself and thank those who helped me to get there. 

When you take over the helm of a boat that isn't yours, you have to be imaginative, try things out, and sometimes get out the chainsaw. That means challenging the previous skipper choices, who in my case is an ocean racing legend. And sometimes you think: “But who do you think you are, Alan, to modify this boat?” But in the end, I'm just a sailor who knows what he wants and refuses to take the easy way out. 

Tonight I'm 11th in the race, and just talking about it brings a tear to my eye. Looking at those in front, I'd have signed up for that right away at the start. The race is far from over, anything can still happen. But deep down, whatever the result, I know that I've climbed a rung up the ladder, as a man and as a sailor. I've proved to myself that I'm here. That I've got my place, that I've still got work to do, and that I'm not going to give up until the Vendée Globe. 

We remember the “Alex is Back” video: today, it's “Alan is here!"

- - Translated online

Photo © Jean-Louis Carli / Aléa