Offshore sailing is way different than sailing in general. When floating offshore, sailors are tested for their skill and endurance because they don’t get to see or experience dry land for several days at a time. This arduous task of sailing offshore on competitions is a mission for the experienced sailor and for amateurs not to attempt. Several counties participate in offshore sailing races and hope to get the winning gold prize. However, the French have firmly stayed at the top position in offshore races for a long time. When it comes to the French and offshore sailing, they are insanely good at it, that there is entirely no chance for other countries.
This year, the Volvo Ocean Race saw a newcomer with a Chinese sailor taking the top spot. However, he did have a French lad for a skipper. The race team was called the Dongfeng Race Team, and the French skipper Charles Caudrelier was the lucky French charm to bring it home for the Chinese. There is no age or ability bar when it comes to abled sailors in France. The current leader of the Golen Globe Race is a 73-year-old Frenchman. Other favorite races where the French held the crown are:
- Transat Race aka OSTAR
- Vendee Globe, and
- Route du Rhum
The Men Behind the Wins
Loick Peyron, Francois Gabart and Sebastien Josse are three of the top skippers who have held the records for a while. Sailing across the oceans with boats that go by the name ‘Happy,’ ‘Macif,’ ‘Pen Duick VI’ etc., these sailors know all the ins and outs that are required to win offshore sailing races.
The French skippers win single-handed races around the transatlantic and the world. Some of them have sailed for over 30 years and have been some of the active participants that took sailing by the storm to the media. They have seen the rise of sponsorships for sailors and the rise in audiences who come to France to view the races. In the 60s, Eric Tabarly a veteran sailor won the infamous English track, and since then offshore sailing has garnered a lot of media attention. Sailors speak of Eric and his passion for sailing with reverence and believe that he was the sole reason for millions of fans around the world, who have taken to offshore sailing.
The passion for sails has not been a one-person thing in the Tabarly household. Eric’s wife and daughter make bags out of good sails and make quite a profit catering to avid sailors. As a family, they raise awareness toward global environmental issues that are a significant cause for concern. The family is modest in their approach toward sailing, and whatever the media attention they garner, they never forget their roots.
When sailing hails from a country where people like Eric hail from, there is no wonder that their top position in races is a given. From worldwide competitions to local ones, the Frenchmen give more than just their time and passion for sailing. They dedicate their family time and keep things simple without allowing the fame to get to their heads. They enjoy the waters and encourage their children to take to the sport as well with passion.