Thirteenth on the last Vendée Globe, Jérémie Beyou is now well into his new programme with Charal building a new Sam Manuard designed boat which is expected in the water next June. In the meantime, he is making ready to start the Transat Jacques Vabre with Christopher Pratt. Tip & Shaft spoke with the 45-year-old Beyou.
► Did you actively take time to get over your Vendée Globe 2020?
The disappointment of not playing at the front of the race, I had digested little by little during the race. It is an event so all-consuming both mentally and physically, that you don’t really get over something like this overnight, it took me a few months before I felt ready wanted to get into it all again on a physical level and to feel that I had recovered in terms of fatigue. And the desire to race, the competitive urge came back hard during the summer: at the start of the Fastnet (2nd place), I really wanted to get back to racing.
► Even before the start of the Vendée Globe, you knew you were going to start a new campaign, did you have any doubts you would go on after what happened?
No in fact it is the opposite. Maybe if I had won, I might have wondered, then not having been competitive at the front left me very frustrated. I was very far from being satisfied. And of course when I go back I was straight into the design of the new boat, so I was very quickly into my next Vendée Globe.
► Did you change much as you were setting up this new campaign?
No, the methodology is the same, we try to prepare everything well in advance, that’s why we launched the project early. We left with the same overall itinerary with some differences, there will be no Figaro for me on this campaign, no Ocean Race either. The programme is focused almost 100% towards the Imoca. And thanks to Charal we had the chance to be able to strengthen the team. By being the first to launch the campaign, we were also able to be able to evaluate different designers, we had the best choice and focused on Sam Manuard. And we really don’t regret it, because he has an incredible talent, he’s someone who is full of ideas but really seems to know the constraints of sailing solo. He has only done one Imoca (L’Occitane now Bureau Vallée) and from the first it has been a success.
“We studied several
dozens of hulls”
► Will Charal 2 look more like L’Occitane than Charal 1?
It won’t be like one or the other! Really Sam arrived with his way of seeing things and of course his reference was L’Occitane, ours was Charal. Nico (Andrieu, engineer in the design office) – and me also by the way – wanted us to start with a very broad view, looking at all the hully concepts, we had to study several dozen. It taught us a lot about the pros and cons of the different hulls. We had to find compromises between those that are straighter and others that are more rounded in front and behind. It took a long time to get there and we were at the end of the dead-line before we saw the right one.
► How is the build going?
We have finished the outer skin and the structural inserts are on the hull and the deck, we have the bulkheads that are starting to be manufactured. The design of the foils has been completed two weeks ago and they are going into production, the rudders will follow. We started to work on the of sails, we made a final point on the modelling for the final definition of the coachroof. We are still on a launch date of June 30, 2022 knowing that we will race with Charal 1 pre-season on the Bermudes 1000 Race and the Vendée Arctic.
► Is Charal 1 already sold?
We have had a lot of calls, but we don’t communicate much on this subject. We would like to sail the two boats together a bit, but nothing is set yet and Charal will have the final say.
“I think we have
all every chance”
► Has Charal 1 changed a lot compared to the boat that completed the Vendée Globe?
We switched to the new rules so the 6-degree mast, a major change in the direction of setting up the boat as much as possible for downwind, we hope there will be a lot on the Jacques Vabre! And we changed the bow to incorporate a bustle like we saw on the AC75s in the America’s Cup. In this case, it’s a scaled down bustle because we didn’t want to change the structure of the boat, so we cut everything we could under the crashbox. We find that there is a gain when the bow drops onto the water, it has a better ability to come out when the hull touches down.
► And so to the Jacques Vabre, you were the big favorites two years ago, this year it feels like the label is more stuck to Apivia, which won the Fastnet and the Défi Azimut would you agree?
They are having a great season, they’re fast, the partnership is working well, they’ve made no mistakes in terms of strategy, it looks like they are the big favourite. But we had heard all that with Charal last time, we had this status two years ago and it was not Charal who won (3rd after being stuck in the Doldrums)…….
► Your preparation has been a bit disrupted in recent weeks, can you tell us more?
During the Fastnet we hit something with the rudder and with the bow, which we only realized when we had finished it was completely delaminated with water inside, it had to be completely redone, which took us out for more than a month. And we broke the bowsprit, which forced us to stop last week for five days. We are desperate to get going and I am very motivated by the idea of racing with Chris! We also have a bit of a spirit of revenge compared to the scenario of the previous edition, I think we have all every chance. But we are not alone, there is Apivia, the first 11th Hour, which has evolved well, with Justine (Mettraux), a super sailor, and Simon (Fisher), an outstanding sailor. There is also 11th Hour 2 which has enormous potential, LinkedOut is also a favorite, Arkéa Paprec has made good progress with duo Yann and Seb (Eliès / Simon) and they are working well, Corum… It will be a super interesting transatlantic race.
Photo: Gautier Lebec / Charal Sailing Team