Tired but all smiles… Dressed in a navy blue army jumpsuit, Kevin Escoffier set foot ashore this Thursday morning at 9.45am at the dock of the military port of Réunion, on the west coast of the island of France. Indian Ocean. Ten days after his spectacular shipwreck southwest of the Cape of Good Hope, off the coast of South Africa, the Vendée Globe skipper was greeted by the Prefect, around twenty sailing enthusiasts and a stream of local journalists.
“I come out of ten complicated days, with a feeling of disappointment and nostalgia to have given up the race, for which I had put a lot of energy for two years. But it is also the joy of finding the mainland and soon my family, said the navigator alone, from the bridge of the surveillance frigate that picked him up four days ago. Thank you to the French Navy, which carried out beautiful and not trivial maneuvers in these southern seas. ” In 2016, the Marion Dufresne, a supply ship for the French Southern Antarctic Territories, based in Réunion, had already diverted to save another competitor, Kito de Pavant.
“It was Verdun on the water”
This time, the Nivôse, a ship of the Armed Forces of the southern Indian Ocean area, which was in operation in the Kerguelen area, headed for the Crozet archipelago, more than 3,000 km south of Réunion. It is there, off Ile aux Cochons and Ile de la Possession, that the junction with the YesWeCam! by Jean Le Cam has come true. The latter, also participating in the Vendée Globe, had found Kevin Escoffier at the beginning of last week, while the castaway was drifting on his liferaft. His monohull literally broke in two following a breaking wave. “I never doubted a happy outcome. But it was necessary to be in good physical shape, because it was not easy to get on board YesWeCam! It was Verdun on the water, picture the survivor of the southern seas. Thanks to Jean; we already knew each other, today we have become intimate. ”
Read alsoIn the Vendée Globe, Escoffier leaves Le Cam: “Kiss my quail!”
More seriously, he evokes his accident. “It’s surreal what happened, the boat folded in two!” And look for an explanation: “Today, foiling boats have a very long contact surface and length, we hit a little more than before…” But the survivor knows that “The Vendée Globe is a long and demanding race, where there is always a significant number of breakages. We will see on arrival… ”
In the meantime, Kevin Escoffier savored the applause of a small score of supporters who came to welcome him. Tutelage de rigueur … “You’ll see, in four years, the sponsors will eat you out of your hand”, promises him a wife. “It suits you well, the military outfit”, throws him another … Everyone laughs, let’s go for the selfies, while the browser claims to have “Want to go back” and participate in the next edition of the round the world race. When his monohull Imoca sank, he was in third place.
Friday, Kevin Escoffier must tour the Reunionese customers of PRB, its official sponsor (construction materials), before taking the plane on Saturday for the metropolis. On Tuesday he will join his family in. Before going back to sea, as soon as possible, of course …
Laurent Decloitre corresponding to Réunion