Since he crossed the finish line off Pointe de Pitre earlier this week, I’ve been trying to assimilate Loick Peyron’s win in the 2014 Route du Rhum. He is a sailor’s sailor – a consummate sportsman and gentle-man, confronting the wild ocean with a smile and a wave of his hand. He is an inspiration.
In the brutal first day of the race he kept BankPop on her feet, didnt break anything, kept her clear of shipping and then – at EXACTLY – the right moment, tacked over for the run South. Certainly, much of the credit goes to his shore routing team – and it was classy and typical of him to dedicate the win to them and to Arnel Le C’Leach in particular – but I can only believe Loick called the move and they concurred.
He was a bright star and leader on the Artemis Americas Cup challenge – sailed a foiling cat with Nathan Outerridge, sailed an AC72 on foils, took BankPop across the ocean solo – and all that in just the past few months! He says he will be back in four years with his beloved Happy and I cant wait to welcome him to Guadeloupe on THAT day.
Is there another skipper in the ocean racing world as talented and as innovative as Loick? Can you imagine any of the Americas Cup skippers taking on the Route Du Rhum with only two months training? No. Can you imagine any of the Volvo skippers taking BankPop offshore alone? Mich Desjoyeaux certainly could – but relegated to watch captain status on Iker’s Mapfre he never got the chance. But none of the others could or would, at least not with the same sang froid as Loick. What a race the Route might have been if Mich, Loick, Yann, Thomas and Franck Cammas had all been able to field Ultime Trimarans. As it was, the race between Loick and Yann was fascinating with Loick able to maneuver the smaller BankPop quicker and easier than the younger Yann Guichard on the larger Spindrift. Frequently in offshore sailboat racing it is the boat with the smoothest track that is the winner – take a look at Loick’s track for this race and compare it to the jittery and nervous tracks of his competitors – Jedi indeed.
I can only imagine what it must be like to pilot this spectacular racing machine across the immaculate ocean. As skipper, Loick is the intelligence and spirit that takes the technical ability and triumph of the designers, builder and routers, mixes it with his unique and gifted sea sense and soars an Ultimate sailing spaceship down the Route.
In all great sea stories, the ocean itself plays a part – is one of the characters. Some say the ocean is merciless, but to be merciless the ocean must have the ability to know mercy – which it doesn’t. It is worse than merciless – it is indifferent. Yet it can strike with a cold fury or reward with abundance and overwhelming beauty. It is infinite, majestic, powerful and beyond our understanding.
Loick Peyron knows that pelagic world well and shows us our humanity against the cold, dark sea – our mortality versus the dark, unknowable infinity – our fragile light against the ultimate darkness.
He inspires us with his skill and seamanship, his humor and balance, his respect for the ocean, his intelligence. We like him and want to BE like him. His character born of days and years spent riding the wind in the presence of the awesome power and beauty of the ocean. The ocean is in Loick’s veins, he can no more stay ashore than an albatross can stay grounded. He MUST soar the wild and lonely swells. With his gentle smile, his quick laugh and his remarkable exploits he shares the experience with us. Sailing the oceans has molded Loick – it is his gift, his art – and sharing it with us is his great joy.
He gives us reason to believe, does this Loick Peyron, Jedi master.
Below is a remarkable video made to celebrate Loick’s exploits during the 89/90 Vendee Globe – even then, a truly amazing sea-man.
Sail on Loick – fair winds and many thanks.