france

Gabart: the record-breaking sailor who doesn’t like to swim

Driven by a desire to discover the world at full speed, the sailor completed his voyage in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds — and on his first attempt

AFP
18:17 December 17, 2017

Brest, France: He is affectionately known as “Excel spreadsheet” to his teammates, but Frenchman Francois Gabart’s precise planning has helped earn him a world record for the fastest non-stop solo navigation of the world.

Driven by a desire to discover the world at full speed, the sailor completed his voyage in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds — and on his first attempt.

“The job of a sailor is nothing more than managing problems and dealing with difficulties,” said Gabart, an engineer by trade.

The winner of the 2013 Vendee Globe and 2014 Route de Rhum yacht races, the 34-year-old father-of-two has been sailing for 20 years.

“He likes to be a pioneer, he is not an upstart but someone in a hurry to discover things, to demonstrate things to himself and others,” said Christian Le Pape, who has known Gabart for 10 years.

“I wouldn’t classify him as a genius in terms of ease at the helm but he has an ability to process information that is out of the ordinary like Michel Desjoyeaux or Armel Le Cleach.”

Desjoyeaux, a double winner of the Vendee Globe who mentored the engineer, said Gabart was given the name “Excel spreadsheet” by his team.

“At the arrival of the Vendee Globe, we found 74 markings on the boat, but the race had taken 78 days,” said Desjoyeaux.

“In fact, he had noted the number of times he had brushed his teeth. He’s not crazy but very rational.”

Gabart, the son of a dentist and brother to two sisters, happily recognises his square side: “I’m pretty reasonable and rational.

“I’ve been like that since I was 10-years-old!

“My parents tell me that when I was a kid, I was very good at certain things.”

A sailor who doesn’t like to swim, Gabart first dreamed of being a meteorologist as a child.

“At 10 I was reading books about the weather and knew things that no one understood at that age,” he said.

“I’m passionate about the weather. We can be wrong but we can almost see in to the future, I find it extraordinary to be able to know what will happen.

“There is a poetic side too, to watch a cloud is beautiful.”