float Magazine

Clarisse Cremer © Vincent Curuchet/Alea #VG2020
Vendée Globe 2020

„Nothing is different because I am a woman“

🇬🇧 Clarisse Cremer talks about her race and her ambitions as the fastest woman to sail solo around the world.

4 Minuten

Clarisse Cremer aka “ClaCla” is the female star of this Vendée Globe. The young Frenchwoman was also the first woman to make history. With only 87 days of sailing time, she broke the record held for over 20 years by Ellen MacArthur, who sailed solo around the world in 94 days. Ellen MacArthur congratulated Clarisse Cremer on her impressive race. We bring excerpts from the interview ClaCla gave yesterday right after her arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Your relationship with the boat

“There is nothing to replace spending so much time solo on the boat in demanding race conditions. When I started sailing with this boat in July 2019 I did not have much time to learn this boat but many other sailors on this Vendée Globe did not really know their boats much better than I did.

Clarisse crossing the finish line on Banque Populaire X © Adrien Francois / Alea #VG2020

At the start I would not say that myself and the boat were in any kind of fusion, I was quite scared of this big machine, but now sometimes I feel it is not that big any more, you get accustomed to it and find your marks. But technically I still have a lot to learn and that was what required the most psychological work for me accept I could not master everything.”

Get to the finish line

“The finish is filled with so many emotions because you are always worried about not finishing, all the time it is in your mind. When it is finished and when you succeed it I a lot of pressure gone away. And the Channel, well it was a big shock!”

Clarisse Cremer
Clarisse is thrilled after crossing the finish line © Adrien Francois / Alea #VG2020

When she masters her boat…

“Yes I am proud to have managed to look after the boat from the beginning and to finish. But now I am realising with three months of experience now I realise how I did not know how to do everything on board at the start, even if I was prepared. It is a pleasant feeling to know you have mastered the subject, that you mastered your boat but I am still fascinated by these boats.

This morning I was in 40 kts and I was nor even afraid, these beasts are made to go around the world, they are fascinating machines, objects and so there is a pride in having brought it and myself back safely and correctly.”

Clarisse Cremer
Clarisse Cremer interview yesterday © Olivier Blanchet / Alea #VG2020

Fastest female sailor around the world in a monohull

“It is true that I beat her record, but the record was 20 years ago and they are two completely different editions of the Vendée Globe the boats are completely different, the length of the race we saw this time is not representative of the intensity of the race and what skippers are able to do.

And so yes I am happy, it is fun this sentence ‘the fastest woman around the world on a monohull in solo sailing’ but it is an additional thing which is fun, but to have a message from Ellen MacArthur that is really something big for me.”

Dame Ellen MacArthur made sailing history in 2005 when she became the fastest female solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe. To this day, she is the most successful British ocean sailor of all time and received the accolade for it: She is a “Dame” today.

Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur founded the environmental foundation named after her © Bryan Ledgard / CC BY 2.0

“The number 12th is not that important, the goal was to finish the Vendée Globe. Having finished in full race mode and having sailed well and the fact of being the first woman that is just the cherry on the top. We are not very numerous and yes people speak about us more because as the first woman it highlights the project.”

Being a woman does not influence

“But on the water I never tell myself anything is different because I am a woman. I have a boat and if competitors are men or women I don’t think about it on the water, yes it is a subject we end up talking about a lot, but it does not affect the way I race at all.”

On the water, women and men are equal, finds Clarisse Cremer © Clarisse Cremer / Banque Populaire X

“Being the first woman is good, but it was never my first objective and my thoughts are still with the women who are still on the water and others who we expected great positions from, Sam and Isa who were not lucky and had damage, but to have the courage to set sail again and finish the course.”

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