Marc Guillemot, skipper of the SAFRAN boat

The skipper from La Trinité (Western France) came in 3rd in the 2008 Vendée Globe, after a round-the-world voyage marked by particularly intense events. The SAFRAN group is heavily involved in the construction and development of his monohull. We spoke to Marc Guillemot a few days after this epic event.

Which of the SAFRAN group's technical contributions was most useful during this race?

Generally speaking, the group's involvement is exceptional and everyone who participated in the construction of this boat - particularly the engineers - can be very proud.
During the race, the Unidentified Floating Object (UFO) detector was often in use in the South and this gave me great peace of mind. Happily, I didn't detect anything dangerous, even if the people who made the system would have liked me to detect things! In any case, it does work because I detected small objects floating on the surface, but to really test it I would have had to sail close to growlers (small icebergs)... It was fairly experimental and we need to continue the tests, and go into the Southern ocean for trials.

Are you satisfied with the SAFRAN boat after such an intense race?

I am very happy with my boat; together with SAFRAN, the architects and my team, we put in a lot of energy. We had to associate a lot of complementary skills and competence to create it and I hugely enjoy sailing it. It's a really good boat, even if it did suffer major damage during this race. The proof that the SAFRAN boat is very sound: I'd never have believed that it was possible to sail for six days without a keel....
I hope I will have other opportunities - single-handed, with a partner or fully crewed - to show everything it can do.

If you had to choose a single episode of “your” Vendée Globe, what would it be?

There were many powerful moments in this race, lots of images stored up over 97 days... The greatest moment of emotion for me was the rescue of Yann Eliès. I knew he was severely injured; not being able to intervene directly caused me quite a few psychological problems you don't really think about. You feel completely impotent in the face of another person's suffering. So, that causes you to suffer at the same time, and even more so in my case, as I had experienced a quite similar situation (when the multihulled Jet Services capsized in 1985) - the same pain in any case - so I understood how hard it was for him to endure.
It was highly charged with emotion. I think that even without being in physical contact with Yann, this episode will remain engraved in my memory for a very long time indeed. We both experienced something very powerful and this was even more so as Yann was at the arrival to reinforce this. That won't prevent us from competing against each other on the water in the future, but another real bond has been created between us.

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