François Gouin from Pornic in France is the 35th entry in the Global Solo Challenge with his Pogo 40S Kawan3, a first generation Class40 (Finot-Conq) built in 2008 by Structures. For François, sailing is an incredible school of life: rigor, anticipation, discipline and, he believes, it is the most complete of discipline spanning from physical, technical, to emotional level. He wanted to participate in a round-the-world circumnavigation by the three great capes but the opportunity had never materialised until the announcement of the GSC, which represents a dream for the lovers of the open sea with yet requiring a budget that makes the project feasible. The moment to launch himself in this adventure has arrived for François. The organizers are delighted to welcome him as the 35th entry in the GSC, 11th among the French skippers, 3rd Class40 and 5th among the 40-foot racing boats.
Where does your passion for sailing come from?
Since childhood. I discovered sailing and dinghies with my parents and friends on vacation. When I was very young, my greatest pleasure as a city dweller was during the holidays to walk the pontoons to admire, examine and compare the sailboats. It made me dream. From adolescence we discovered with our friends the pleasure and pride of sailing alone from one point to another, day or night, sometimes with strong winds on the small family sailboat of 7m. Then very quickly I discovered how rich and fun it was to try to go faster than the sailboats around us and therefore to sail in a races. The story has never stopped since!
What lessons have you learnt from sailing?
Sailing is an incredible school of life: rigour, anticipation, discipline but also flexibility and adaptation to the external elements to which you have to submit. Despite all these apparent constraints, it is an immense space of freedom. We never finish to learn technically, or about our reactions hence the marine environment requires a lot of humility.
What brought you to like single-handed sailing?
I have always been fascinated by great solo ocean racers in France and abroad, and I waited 40 years to do my first solo transatlantic. Unsurprisingly, it was a revelation. Single-handed racing is the most complete of the activities on the physical, technical, emotional level. Everything is there and everything is concentrated, you have to manage the race, the route, the boat, yourself at all levels. Strong sensations.
What prompted you to sign up for this event?
There has always been more or less consciously a place for such a great adventure in my head. The opportunities are rare, complicated. But there the planets quickly aligned themselves with the announcement of the GSC, a course which is the dream of lovers of the open sea, which requires a budget that makes the project feasible for an amateur, a program compatible with preparation despite my professional activity. It’s the time to go for it, there won’t be many other opportunities for me!
How do you plan to prepare for this event?
My preparation will be centred on that of my boat. I want to sail with a boat with which I feel good, confident, that I know perfectly.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
I see 2 (at least!): gather the budget for a preparation as close as possible to my expectations today, to be on the starting line – navigate well to cross the finish line!
Tell us about your boat or the boat you would like to have.
I chose a sailboat of a size in relation to the means that I hope to be able to mobilise to prepare it as I wish, of a size which makes manoeuvres sufficiently easy, and a sailboat which surfs on the water as soon as we go downwind: I sailed on this type of sailboat in the range 9 to 12 m for about fifteen years, which for me combine safety and the pleasure of planing. So I chose a first generation Pogo 40S, a Class40 of good construction, Kawan3.
Do you intend to link this personal challenge with a social message?
The project was built from the outset with the support of Unicancer, which is the federation of French Cancer Control Centers; this project brings to the general public and to the federation of cancer hospitals, the message of the benefits of physical activity adapted for the prevention of cancer.
I mainly sailed in race and cruises on the Atlantic coast, in Brittany since the age of 18. I complete 7 crossings of the Atlantic, 6 in races including 4 in single-handed races (Transquadra), numerous participations in the Fastnet, and all the Atlantic races...