Relaxed, happy, contented and relieved of stress, Romain Attanasio was forthcoming and informative, talking of his desire to have a foiling boat for his third Vendee Globe
What has changed compared to your previous race?
I bought a lot more data because the prices have dropped dramatically. Four years ago I was just taking my weather files from the internet and doing some communication with the organisation and mysponsors. I remember that last time I just went online to see the picture of Thomas Ruyant’s broken boat, but that was the only thing. On this edition we were chatting on whatsapp with my mates, and then I was going on the internet to watch the news a bit. We were a bit isolated. But hey, I still spent 3 months on my own. In the end, we talk more among the skippers at sea than with people ashore because with the land there is still a big gap. I talked a lot with Jérémie in recent days, because we were going through the same thing.
I uploaded more videos, it was much easier, I did it directly with my iphone. I would do a little editing right on my phone and send it over wifi to the organisation. Four years ago I had a video camera I had to remove the memory card compress the files, and the transfer took three hours!
There are quite a few skippers to do the Mer et Montagne trophy. An Olivette is used to climb up a pylon. I used it to go up the mast because my mainsail was blocked. But it was two damaged over two metres, it wasn't the same thing at all, it was horrible. I was terrible coming back down. I tried to convey everything: sometimes we laugh, but not always. I had to go up a second time and after that I still ended up with a reef in my mainsail. Four years ago I repaired my rudder near South Africa.
Compressions in the fleet
No one thought the competition would be so close towards the finish. Usually it always starts from the front. This time at the front the boats always came back from behind. For Yannick (Bestaven) it must have been hellish. It created this group that was always able to keep in touch. Unfortunately I stalled, my mainsail problem didn't help me. It looked very intense, it must have been great for them to experience because it was a real race but it must have been really exhausting because a Vendée Globe is long. And the end was really, really intense.
Personally I kind of thought it took away from the finish of the first skipper as they are usually far ahead. That felt more like a hard race than an incredible adventure around the world.
I have already spoken with my sponsors for the next stages. My partners are SMEs, it is because there are many of them that they succeed in doing the Vendée Globe. Each business could not do it alone. Everyone of them is important and of course I thank them. For the future I would like to have a foiling boat, I am not asking for a new boat. Foiling boats are the things of my dreams at the moment. They are fabulous.If other sponsors want to join us, so much the better. The hardest part in a Vendée Globe is being at the start, I have lots of fellow sailors who dream of competing in this race, but it's hard to put it all in place. I can see how lucky I am. In difficult times, I think of all the people and companies behind me.
About the evolution of technical rules
I am a big proponent of cost containment. I've never been on or have had a big team. With foils which are too large foils, we have realized that it was complicated in the deep south. I think we need to establish some rules with the IMOCA class to limit the size of the foils. The main thing is to keep it affordable. You cannot go racing on a boat when you are scared of the boat’s handling or performance. Currently, we are still in a trial period. You cannot use a foiler everywhere like you do on the bay of Port-La-Forêt. It is important that there are always several ways for a sponsor to get involved and that those on a smaller budget can continue to buy older boats.
Telling a Vendée Globe story with humour
I tried to tell my stories with humour. Telling what I was going through with humour helps you reduce some of the stress you feel in difficult situations. I wanted to tell the story of a skipper at sea, someone who is doing something extraordinary but normalise it a bit. I have told about the good times and the bad. The worst was off South Africa when three boats hit the Ofnis. I was at the bottom of my boat at 18 knots, in the dark. There, I knew that if I hit something, I would explode my head against the wall. And those moments, I filmed them too.
A story of self-sacrifice
I have one quality among my many flaws: when I want something, I don't give up. When i have i decided to go sailing I was dedicated. I was lucky to meet the right people, like the bank manager I went to see when I was 17 when I wanted to do the Mini-Transat. I could have been kicked out of banking. And it was a little bit thanks to him that I got into sailing.
My idea is also to show everyone and the children who follow the Vendée Globe that when you want to do something, you have to go for it and to do it properly, thoroughly. We can do whatever we want if we give ourselves the chances. It's kind of my life lesson as an ocean racer. "