Clarisse Crémer et Tanguy Le Turquais

Clarisse Crémer/Tanguy Le Turquais: “It was a tsunami”

The international jury set up to rule on Clarisse Crémer ‘s suspected routing by her companion Tanguy Le Turquais in the last Vendée Globe delivered its verdict on Monday: it is “entirely convinced that there was no misconduct from either Clarisse Crémer or Tanguy Le Turquais. Relieved by this decision, the two sailors agreed to talk to Tip & Shaft about the story .

▶︎ How did this story start for you?
Clarisse Crémer:
 Almost at the same time as everyone else, when we received the famous screen shots this Monday (February 12); on the other hand, ten days before that, we had had exchanges with the Imoca class, who had received a call from a skipper saying that we would soon be accused of cheating in the newspapers. At the time, I wondered what they were talking about, I was a bit hallucinated, but we understood better when we received the screenshots…

▶︎ The word “cheating” was immediately mentioned, and many people commented the screenshots. How did you deal with the media frenzy?
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 It was like a tsunami, really hard. The fact that everything was taken up and amplified in the media hurt us enormously. I remember hearing my name and Clarisse’s associated with the word “cheater” on France Info in the morning when I was going to work. The shock was monstrous and what was terrible was that everyone was giving their opinion, taking it out of context, it was black and white, nothing was nuanced. What really touched me, and disappointed me a little, was that so many people spoke out, but not one called us to try and understand. It’s true that the screen shots, taken out of context, seemed incriminating, but it was very easy to call us to find out more before responding to journalists.

▶︎ You were also defended by other people…
Clarisse Crémer:
 Yes, and what’s important is that the people who took a step back and, in a way, defended us, were those with a more global vision of sailing.
Tanguy Le Turquais: It’s true that during this storm, hearing people like Jacques Caraës, Christian Dumard and some of our sailing friends say that they didn’t see us as cheaters and that they believed in us, gave us enormous strength and enabled us to hold on, because I must admit that at one point, we were on the brink of a precipice. The problem was that our detractors made more noise than our supporters in the media.


“These captures were carefully
selected to hurt as much as possible”


▶︎ How did your sponsors react to the storm?
Clarisse Crémer:
 Personally, I received a lot of support from my team and my partners, they never doubted us, that was very precious, I don’t know how I would have done without that.
Tanguy Le Turquais: Same thing, I’ve had unwavering support. After that, we’re in a period where we’re still looking for funding; personally, my winter was dedicated to that, and now that part has fallen apart a bit, with some prospects disappearing. It’s a bit complicated, because it represents weeks, if not months, of work, but on the other hand, the partners already involved, and Lazare in particular, have put their blind trust in me.

▶︎ Do you have any idea who took the photos and who sent the anonymous e-mails?
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 For the e-mails, we have some ideas, but no certainties. As for the photos, all we know is that it’s on the Banque Populaire trimaran, but we don’t know who it is. And I confess we haven’t concentrated on that.
Clarisse Crémer: The only important thing to remember is that these shots were carefully selected to cause as much harm as possible.

▶︎ How did you prepare your defense?
Clarisse Crémer:
 Everything had to come from us, the analysis of the captures and all the documents we had in our possession, and in front of the jury, it was only Tanguy and I who spoke, but we were helped by a law firm. Given the violence of the thing and the stakes for both our projects, we couldn’t take it lightly. That’s also why we asked for a bit more time to prepare our defense, because we wanted to be ultra-prepared and have all the elements with us. When the going gets tough, you’re glad you’ve got the brains to help you think straight and stand firm for you. Alan Roberts (Clarisse Crémer’s co-skipper on the last Jacques Vabre) also helped us a lot, and Christian Dumard (weather routing specialist) and Jacques Caraës (race director on the last Vendée Globe) also came to testify.


“This sentence taken out of context,
doesn’t make sense”


▶︎ Let’s talk about this defense. Can you explain the context of these famous screenshots, particularly those showing route diagrams?
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 If we’re talking about the five screenshots of routes that I send to Clarisse, these are key moments in her Vendée Globe, during which I’m extremely busy with journalists, friends and family, who ask me how Clarisse plans to get through the Theta storm, when she’ll reach Cape Horn, the equator… What you have to understand is that in our exchanges, she’s the one who has the lead, who talks to me whenever she wants, about anything or nothing. So as not to annoy her, when I get these questions from outsiders, I take these screenshots to find out if that’s more or less what she’s planning to do, she answers yes or no, and then, with my own information, I can answer the questions I’m asked in a credible way. At no point does Clarisse ask me a question, the only time she does is when she says: “What do you think of Wednesday’s little depression?”
Clarisse Crémer: We’re talking about Wednesday February 3rd. At the moment I’m asking the question, I’m still hesitating between arriving on the 2nd or the 3rd, given the very complicated conditions. I’m discussing the weather with the race management and my team via a specially created WhatsApp group. This is purely for logistical and safety reasons linked to exceptional circumstances, as authorized by the Vendée Globe rules. It happened to other sailors. So this sentence taken out of context doesn’t make sense.
Tanguy Le Turquais: The only time Clarisse comments on a route screenshot is to tell me she doesn’t want to discuss it with me, because I don’t have all the information…
Clarisse Crémer: And between the question Tanguy asks me and the route I take, there’s absolutely nothing to see! What’s more, to explain ourselves better, we had to give the jury all our intimacy. For example, on three of Tanguy’s five screenshots, where we’re talking about the ETA at Cape Horn, he’s in a tent in Tarifa on a kite trip with twenty or so friends who have drawn up certificates to explain that he wasn’t really following my race and that he was spending five minutes on his computer watching it. This has nothing to do with what may have been insinuated, namely that Clarisse was routed by Tanguy. During my Vendée Globe, I spent 5 to 6 hours a day on my computer, constantly updating my routing, and there was never the slightest intention of helping me. Christian Dumard made it clear to the jury: “What I see here is not routing in the sense of the Vendée Globe rules”.


“The fight goes on”


▶︎ How did you feel after almost four hours on the jury?
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 We were both exhausted and extremely relieved, because we’d finally been able to tell our side of the story, and put it in context, in front of extremely attentive people who had all the facts.

▶︎ How did you learn of the decision and what was your reaction?
Clarisse Crémer:
 We had a visio scheduled for 11am on Monday morning with the jury, who read us the whole note. It was obviously a liberation for us, especially as the jury made sure that the final note was clear. The only negative words used were that it was neither wise nor useful, and we all agree that it was clumsy.
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 It was a huge relief, but at the same time, we realize that the fight goes on, because there are always people who don’t understand. We want the sailing world to understand this decision, so that we can stop being seen as cheaters, as some people still say, which hurts a lot. Neither Clarisse nor I want to go out on the pontoons looking at our feet. We love this sport, we don’t want to be treated like pariahs who have done harm to sailing.

▶︎ What’s next for you?
Tanguy Le Turquais:
 We’re both lucky enough to have structured projects with teams that have continued to work. Our respective launches are scheduled for two weeks from now, but first we need to get back to the surface, as we’re still at the bottom of the bucket. We’re going to take five days to get a change of scenery and attack the coming season with as much energy as possible, trying to put this behind us and with the desire to do this Vendée Globe.
Clarisse Crémer: There’s obviously a part of me that’s been damaged by all this, and I’ve had to mourn the loss of ideal preparation. We’ve lost a lot of time, and a Vendée Globe year is hyper-demanding, as I’ll be doing two solo transatlantic races in a row. So, in my head, I’m currently more into a policy of small steps, with each day having its own objective.

Photo: Anne Beaugé

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