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Vendée Globe: Alexia Barrier's press conference

by Vendée Globe 1 Mar 09:32 GMT 01 March 2021
Alexia Barrier's press conference - Vendée Globe © Jean-Louis Carli / Alea

Alexia Barrier's press conference was lively and informative as she told the media, friends, sponsors and sailors about her Vendee Globe while pledging to be back in 2024 with a faster boat.

On her back injury

The support from the race doctor Jean-Yves Chauve was remarkable and I had so many messages, a lot of people were worried. There were so many kids who communicated with me they were really worried and I sent them messages to reassure them, and the whole organisation did a big job on this and so I realised that more than ever the mind and the human body are incredible and they can hold out together until the finish line.

On finding money

Before the start, having to find the money to buy the boat and we fitted the keel just one month before leaving and I had to replace some sails, it was a big battle to be there at the start and I was thinking during the race that even if anything can happen, I was so happy to just be there in the race, that is what made me smile, these simple things to be still in the race all the time.

I remember that nothing is impossible, you need strong will, you need to work hard and you need to always be optimistic and then you can get through all the challenges, all the problems you face.

On the adventure

This Vendée Globe was an extraordinary adventure, it was my first but I am determined it will not be my last. As soon as the first boat finished this race I was already thinking what boat I want for the next one. I still have to find some money to buy it. That search is continuing but I have some sponsors who will continue with us. That is already a great support. Having their trust is worth everything.

Sponsors

I have to thank TSE who came on board in August. They came in at the last moment. Although we were locked down. For once I had told myself to calm down and stop looking, that was amazing. Someone called and offered us a partnership and that was really important to us. That enabled us to change the keel one month before leaving. We went to Michel Desjoyeaux's company, no one believed in us, just me and the team. I achieved this Vendée Globe thanks to my partners and this incredible team. And Catherine Chabaud is here and the Penguin which was built for her is the oldest boat in the fleet, she is 22 years old and has just completed her seventh circumnavigation is going to retire now because I think it is time now and deserves it. Maybe she will now be used for nice voyages but not another Vendée Globe. It is an incredible adventure and the think I take most from this Vendée Globe is that nothing is impossible.

On the six female skippers encouraging women for the future

We were six female skippers at the start and inside or outside the race we all finished the course, all had the will even to restart it was very courageous to re-start for Isa and Sam. I think it is the beginning of something that should be the norm, that is having many more female skippers on the Vendée Globe. When I realised that Clarisse had beaten the record of Ellen MacArthur I was very happy for her but it is a shame it took us 20 years to break that record. Girls we have to get budgets together and keep at it. Yes, this year there were more budget and more female projects but it has to continue because it is incredibly positive to have these six female skippers finished and back here. It is inspiring for all the young girls who maybe want to start sailing or whatever it is they want to do, they have to tell themselves nothing is a question of gender it is all a question of will and motivation and determination just as for everything else.

The dream realised

I knew this Vendée Globe would be difficult for me with this boat because I am used to competing at a very high level and competing for podiums but knowing I was leaving with an adventure project was fulfilling a childhood dream, that is what it was about, that is what I focused on even if I knew I could not win it. Finishing was the objective and also to meet the other science and educational objectives which I did with 4-MyPlanet contributing to UNESCO's programme and over 10,000 kids in France followed our programme. I was thinking through the race, what would I be doing, how would I be with a better performing boat. What would have happened. I thought about it and when the first boat crossed I was thinking what boat I would like for the next race. So I want a new, more competitive project without losing the values of our partners and the values of biodiversity, education and health and continuing to share great adventures with many people.

Time spent in harmony with nature

I feel like a spent a long time on the water because there was no beginning, not seeing land, not seeing anyone. It was a very particular adventure on this extreme race, the most extreme on the planet, you realise that your body and your mind can do amazing things, you are always pushing your limits but living in harmony with nature and wilderness.

Is optimism your engine?

"I always take things on the bright side. When you've decided to be strong and believe it's going to work, it works. When you go to the Vendée Globe, you know it's one challenge every day. You know you're going to be under a cloud and so it's better to laugh about it because you have to move forward. I tried to cry, it doesn't solve the problems! We had to take probelms head on ".

What is your program in the coming weeks?

"I'm going to start by going for some tests for my back... I'll start there but if I listened to myself, I would do something else. Then I'm going to get back to physical preparation, do some foiling moth and go shopping, buy a new IMOCA, and watch the race program until 2025 (laughs)!

Find out more...

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