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A podium finish in this year’s Vendée Globe is the goal of Frenchman Sébastien Josse. Sailing aboard his Farr-designed Open 60 BT, Seb earned his racing stripes in 2001 with a second place finish in the Solitaire du Figaro. Since then, he has never looked back, quickly rising through the ranks to become one of the world’s most competitive ocean racers.

A member of Bruno Peyron’s crew aboard Orange (helmsman/mechanic), Seb finished the 2002 Jules Verne in a record-breaking 64 days. He overcame obstacles that nearly sank his boat in the 2005 Vendée Globe to earn a hard-fought fifth place finish. In his third circumnavigation, Seb earned the lasting respect of the fleet in the 2005 Volvo Ocean Race fleet when, as skipper of ABN AMRO TWO, he led the team to a new 24-hour monohull record, and then went on to rescue the movistar crew as they abandoned their sinking ship in storm-tossed seas.

Thirty of the world's best skippers will compete in the 2008 edition of the Vendée and Sébastien Josse is among the best of the best.

Sébastien Josse

Vendée Globe Challenge

Harken: With a Vendée Globe, Volvo Ocean Race and Jules Verne aboard Bruno Peyron’s Orange 1under your belt, do you prefer crewed or solo racing?

Sébastien Josse: I like all of styles of sailing. Each race is different, with different responsibilities, different needs. I regularly change my preferences. If I do a lot of solo racing one year, I looking forward to crewed racing the next.

What inspired you to pursue offshore solo racing?

SJ: I think that solo racing is the most complete discipline. You must be strong, know your limits, and possess a variety of skills. For example, you’ve got to be a good helmsman, but also understand. meteorology. You don’t have to be the best at any one thing, but good at everything!

As the youngest skipper in your first Vendée (2004), you were in contention for much of the race, but eventually suffered serious setbacks: satellite knocked out, generator failure and a bowsprit demolished by an iceberg. Still you finished in an incredible 5th place! What did you learn from this? 

SJ: The most important thing I learned is that it’s not over as long as there’s not a major problem (mast, keel, etc.). Vendée racers always try to find a solution to continue and most of the time we realize we can do without all the technology, and simply get back to the basics.

During the last Volvo Ocean Race, you and your team on ABN AMRO TWO experienced many highs and lows. What is the most important thing you took away from this race?

SJ: We should all remember that our playground is uncertain and that security onboard is a top priority. We must never forget that the ocean can’t be controlled!

Is the Volvo something you would consider doing again?

SJ: Yes, absolutely

IMOCA 60s seem to be split between rotating wing masts and fixed masts. You have chosen to go with a fixed mast. Why?

SJ: I think that the length of time we had to prepare for this project was really too short to try a wing mast. Wing masts are really efficient, but it takes time to learn how they work. We chose a mast we were more familiar with! My BT Open 60 is equipped with a fixed mast and I have full confidence in it!

How have you trained for the Vendée?

SJ: I’'ve done a lot of cardio training: cycling, swimming—sports in general; however, I’m not really a gym addict, but prefer open-air sports. I don’t prepare mentally! When you really want to go, you don’t need to be prepared psychologically. 

When racing around the world, what is your favorite part of the race? 

SJ: The start and finish are the best moments! The start because you’re finally leaving for something you have worked a long time to prepare for. The finish because it’s magic! Your friends and families are waiting for you! It can be sad as well, because the race is over and you always feel that it was too short.

Where is your favorite place to sail?

SJ: The west part of Brittany is absolute heaven for sailors! There are tides, currents, rocks—really interesting for training!

What is your favorite thing to eat?

SJ: I eat everything! I like everything! I have a soft spot for sweets!

How is your Moth sailing going? Did you go to Worlds?

SJ: Yes I did and it was a great experience. I learned a lot of things and I finished 23rd overall. Not too bad for a “beginner”. 
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