Containment: advice from an old sea bass

Jean-Luc Van den Heede was left alone at sea for seven months on a small boat. Photo: Christophe Favreau

Text by: Thomas-Sean de Saint Leger Follow

With several solo world tours, two podiums on the Vendée Globe, one on the Route du Rhum and several records to his credit, the navigator Jean-Luc Van den Heede is an "expert" in containment. He even spent 212 days at sea winning the Golden Globe Race last year, an "old-fashioned" round-the-world race. And even if he is today on dry land, in Nantes, we wanted to ask him for some advice to support the current situation.


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RFI: Jean-Luc Van den Heede, what is the main difference between the confinement that you experience today, like all French people, and that which you are used to, at sea, on your boat ?

Jean-Luc Van den Heede: When you set off on a sailing trip around the world, it's voluntary and prepared. For example, before the Golden Globe Race, I had estimated that my trip would take 240 days. Everything was planned accordingly: food supplies, equipment in the event of damage, etc ... The current situation, on the contrary, was installed suddenly, unexpectedly, and in addition we are forced and forced. From a psychological point of view, it is also completely different when a solitude is chosen and when it is imposed.

What advice would you give to people who are wondering how to best live this situation ?

First, set goals and take advantage of free time to do what you can't usually do. On the sea, you have to take care of two things: the boat and the snowman. Here, it's exactly the same: if you have a house, you have to decorate it, put it away, if you have a garden, you have to maintain it, an apartment, the same. Then you have to take care of the body, that is, do physical exercises at home. Reading is also a good escape. And then we must especially take advantage of it to reflect, think. Our daily life "before" resembles a kind of washing machine drum. We are constantly under pressure, in an emergency. Now we can think more deeply about tomorrow, the after.

Some live alone in small areas. How to manage this face-to-face with yourself ?

You have to have a certain balance, be good with yourself, but also accept this situation and take it with optimism: if you do not tell yourself from the start that you are not going to get there, you will not get there! It also depends on the character of each. For example, this confinement does not bother me at all, on the contrary: I settle everything that I have not been able to do before. Finally, the advice of the old wolf is quite simple: take things positively and believe in a better world when we get out of this crisis. We must let the storm pass and wait for the good weather!

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