“I went to the North lying in my bed! “

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© Action Images
The Groupama team led by Franck Cammas, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 (image of illustration).

More than 100,000 internet users set sail between La Rochelle and Curacao for a 4,000 mile (7,400 km) crossing. Among them, the professional sailors Franck Cammas, Armel Le Cleac’h, Jeremie Beyou or Samantha Davies…

We will not change it! Franck Cammas may well dispute his first virtual deckchair from his house in the middle of the fields of Morbihan, he is obsessed with one thing, the first places, and therefore does not hesitate to get up in the middle of the night to change the settings of his virtual multihull. “I run weather routings like when I am at sea. If I had been racing for real, I would have taken the South option much less daredevils … but as there, there is no risk of capsize, I went north lying in my bed! ” recounts, hilariously, the one who won almost everything in solo double and crew. On Virtual Regatta, there are more than 100,000 to challenge Cammas and the other champions, whether they are “veiled” on Sunday or addicted to online games having never set foot on a sailboat …

Automatic pilot

You can choose your boat class, from the 9-meter Figaro 3 monotype to the giant trimaran of more than 31 meters, the color of the hull and sails, and offer yourself certain options (fees apply) so that you can entrust your toy to the pilot. automatic at night… It is also rumored that a number of competitors isolate themselves in the toilets to play cuddly and escape confinement for a few moments, but do not beat the best professional skippers! If Virtual Regatta is enjoying worldwide success, being modeled on all “real” races like the Vendee Globe, the Route du Rhum or the Transat Jacques-Vabre, this “Great Escape”, between La Rochelle and Curacao in the north of Venezuela, was invented from scratch during this health crisis, since all nautical events are obviously canceled or postponed sine die. Online game designer for almost twenty years, Philippe Guigne has had a nose. Himself an amateur racer, he has specialized in sailing since the 2006 Route du Rhum, surrounding himself with top flight engineers, and surfing on the rise of broadband and then the explosion of smartphones. For this “topical” race, he decided, in view of the revenue from the game, to offer 10,000 euros to the work of the Breton sailor, who helps seafarers in difficulty.

While the construction site Charal, the foiler on which he is to take the start of the Vendee Globe in November is stopped, Jeremie Beyou is also trying out the virtual regatta … with his 16-year-old son. “He already knows the game and masters the controls, and I am more focused on the strategic part. Lots of people send me messages and ask me if I am the real Jeremie Beyou, has fun the champion, three times winner of the famous Solitaire du Figaro. We talk about the weather, I show him how we route, but we don’t spend our day there either. There are much more assiduous guys who clearly do night shifts. And then Achilles is in first, he also has his lessons every day on the web. ”

“You quickly lost 50 places”

Armel Le Cleac’h, Beyou’s childhood friend, also discovered the game. The winner of the last Vendee Globe armed an Ultim trimaran almost similar to the one currently under construction. “I do a bit like a boat. As soon as the weather model arrives at around 8 a.m., I load the data, run a few routes and see a bit of the route to follow during the day. I do not do that because I am well occupied between my two children and their homework, teleworking, household chores. At night, no I don’t get up. You must not exaggerate ! There is a function to program your route. I enter a few waypoints so that the boat changes course or even turns while I sleep. As there are 33,000 of us in Ultim, you quickly lose 50 to 100 spots as soon as a weather option appears, but I’m having fun. ”

Briton Samantha Davies has not really started and has even challenged Francois Gabart with her 8 year old son Ruben in a previous virtual race. “He regularly follows us on the computer when we are in real race with his father [Romain Attanasio, conjoint de Samantha Davies, ndlr]. It’s more for the pictures than for the game! But it’s also a way to explain the races to him, to show him what we usually do, to share in an educational way. In fact, he feels involved, monitors my ranking, and does not hesitate to tell me: “But what the fuck did you do mom!” It is certain that in real life, a question of marine sense, I would not have taken the North option, too risky for the boat … but as it is virtual, you can afford it! “

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