Christmas foie gras for French round-the-world adventurer

AFP - [email protected]
Christmas foie gras for French round-the-world adventurer

It will be Christmas foie gras for Armel Le Cléac'h after he safely passed Cape Horn leading the brutal Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race Friday while many of his rival thrill-seekers will tend their wounds for the festivities.


Le Cleac'h asked for the goose liver delicacy to be packed in his Christmas stocking which he has been keeping since the race started on November 6 in western France.
Having got his 18 metre (60 feet) boat Banque Populaire VIII safely around the perilous Cape Horn into the southern Atlantic, more than 700 nautical miles ahead of second-placed Briton Alex Thomson, Le Cleac'h is firm favourite to win the race and in a record time.
"We are going to try to celebrate Christmas," Le Cleach'h, who will speak to his family by satellite phone on Sunday, told AFP.
"There is a little packet with little things to decorate the boat, a little present for Christmas and a better meal. It is one of the things I will try to take advantage of, the conditions are good. Four years ago I couldn't do it."
Thomson, on Hugo Boss, is only expected to round Cape Horn after Christmas.
But organisers said the weather will be "complicated" for Le Cleac'h in the South Atlantic so the Briton could make ground.
"I don't necessarily feel lonely. I get sent messages from supporters everyday by my team. I can also contact my team and my family if the signal is good enough," Thomson told AFP by email when asked how he would spend Christmas.
"I do, however, feel isolated on the boat alone. It is worse during the night time or during a storm when the conditions are scary onboard."
"I have spotted a few presents which were hidden on the boat by my team," Thomson told AFP.
"I found a little bottle of champagne so I might have a little drink for everyone back home. For food I have a Christmas cake which I have been saving for Christmas day and a tinned burger."
The Christmas celebrations will be short-lived for competitors but they say they need the distraction.
"It is a bit difficult," said New Zealander Conrad Colman, who is in 10th place on Foresight Natural Energy and who has a small bottle of champagne ready for Sunday.
"The public think that solo sailors are there because they cannot handle their human relations. But I am a very sociable person."
Briton's Samantha Davies, who took part in the Vendee Globe four years ago, prepared the Christmas package for her French partner Romain Attanasio who is in 20th on Famille Mary-Etamine de Lys.
"It is the first time Romain has been at sea at Christmas," said Davies, who has a five-year-old son with Attanasio. She packed a small tin of foie gras for the Frenchman.
Davies said she and her son Ruben would not have a big Christmas "out of superstition".
"In 2012, Romain had planned for a Christmas without me but the mast came off and finally I was back before Christmas. I just did not want to celebrate at all. I was tired and sick. It was so tough to abandon."
Many of the Globe competitors have repairs to carry out or injuries to tend. Seventh-placed Paul Meilhat on SMA is waiting for a support team to help with a cracked keel ram.
In ninth, Hungarian ex-wrestler Nandor Fa is not celebrating after taking a mighty battering on Spirit of Hungary.
"I'm just over my most difficult night in the race so far," he said after a 40-knot gust knocked over the boat.
He was rolling a sail to stabilise his vessel after one gust, when a second briefly tipped the yacht over.
"I was in hell. A huge wave swamped us from the back which came into the cabin as one of the doors was open - luckily just one," he said.
Fa said he was getting his breath back on a beanbag when the boat was knocked over.
"Afterwards I crawled into the cabin, soaking wet, trying to change my sodden clothes. Then I sat next to the galley to eat something.
"As I was sitting there, the boat suddenly stopped in a wave and my flying in the boat was stopped by the chart table, having my ear smashed.
"My ear was throbbing like it was hanging off, just like back in the days when I was a wrestler. This was all I could take.
"I screamed out, swearing and cursing like a madman, I was so angry. But I pulled myself together. I ate something, hauled myself on to the beanbag and passed out."


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