The old man of the sea will soon touch the ground –


At 73, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is expected in a few days at Les Sables-d & Olonne, where he plans to complete the formidable Golden Globe adventure, a race around the world alone in the old sextant and without GPS, on small series boats. His overthrow in the South Pacific almost deprived him of his last dream sailor.

It was November 5th. While the sailing world was worried about the fate of Armel Le Cléac & I have Sébastien Josse – whose 5 million-euro multiple hulls were destroyed in the early hours of the Route du Rhum, part 4 of St. Malo -, a tragedy has been linked to 2,000 km from the Chilean coast in general indifference. After a reversal of his old 12m monohull, causing a crack at the head of the tree, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede saw his life's project flow, a victory in his last world tour the old man.

This eternal accustomed to the podiums of the greatest oceanic still see, at 73, his dream take flight for his last world tour? The question arose several hours, the time for him to consider a stop in Valparaiso that would have disqualified him from the race allowing him to continue in an unofficial classification, reserved for sailors who had stopped. Very little for him, the sextant man finally decided to climb the tree for a makeshift repair, which is still after two months of navigation, including a crossing of the fearsome Cape Horn.

If Neptune does not play him a new trick in his own way, VDH (his nickname in the sailing world) should win the race in a few days. The former math teacher Rock & roll will end one of the most amazing adventures of sailing. Two hundred and ten days of navigation if its arrival is confirmed around January 26, the old, the sextant and the map, without resorting to these GPS and computers that are the ordinary of the great modern races.

"This is proof that the human adventure remains possible at sea for those who have the courage to leave as sail pioneers, a man only seven months at sea in a series boat, hat not?"Enthusiasts Christophe Favreau, pillar of the small organizational team. A hat that was to be removed in his honor, the famous Robin Knox-Johnston, the only survivor of the previous edition of this non-stop world tour, in … 1968.

Sir Robin (ennobled after his undertaking) is expected to Sables-d & Olonne to pay tribute to his probable successor and his four companions still at sea, on the 17 sailors left by the Vendee on 1st July 2018. Five survivors, not so bad if we decide to see the glass half full. That could have been emptied immediately, and probably forever, if the sinking of the Indian Abhilash Tomy, saved in the middle of the Indian Ocean, had ended worse.

In the first drama edition of the Golden Globe in 1968, Robin Knox-Johnston was the only one of the nine beginners to face the challenge of this solitary tour around the world The Sunday Times. This adventure was made sad with the story of Donald Crowhurst, this novice sailor who lied about his position for weeks, before committing suicide at sea when he was confused … She also entered the legend Following the decision of one of the competitors, Bernard Moitessier, to snub the bet, to continue his journey to Tahiti, before writing The long road, history of this epic that has aroused many vocations as a sailor.

Including that of Antoine Cousot, cradled in the shooting of the adventures of Knox-Johnston, Moitessier or Tabarly. Nobody besides this manager of a multinational company, who has chosen to abandon his professional moorings to participate in the Golden Globe, is more able to measure the enterprise of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede. "It's nice for him, but until the end I can not believe it, Jean-Luc has lost so many races"says this good amateur sailor, he left him with dreams of the whole world full-headed. He was forced to retire after a few weeks of racing due to a bad shoulder injury that would have prevented him from sailing in the southern seas. "I have three children, adventure does not mean that we do something, even if my sponsor wanted me, but it will be a wonderful story"explains from Amiens, birthplace, is not invented, of VDH.

Half a dozen sailors were shipwrecked, others were abandoned for the damage, two surrendered very quickly because they realized that the oceans were too big for them. "Who will throw the stone to them? continues Antoine Cousot. Months of solitude, at the mercy of a time that we can not escape as on the great racing catamarans, we must be able to support it, I was ready, I think, other competitors, less, but they had the merit of trying. With a career behind him, Jean-Luc knew what to expect, he will be a great winner. "

Jean-François Fournel


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