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the day Jean Le Cam saved Kevin Escoffier

INTERVIEWIt’s a legendary competition, a solo, non-stop sailing round the world, which has its share of twists and turns every year. 33 skippers had taken the start of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d’Olonne in mid-November. They ended the race drip between January 23 and March 6. Among them was Jean Le Cam, dean of the competition, who came fourth in his fifth edition. Invited on Sunday from Europe 1, he returned to a particularly high point of his round the world trip in 81 days: the impressive rescue of skipper Kevin Escoffier. “A situation of total distress”, he remembers, cold, at the microphone of Pascale Clark.

That Monday, the sea was rough off the Cape of Good Hope. In the afternoon, the skipper Kevin Escoffier activated his distress beacon after having signaled a major waterway. The call was sent to Jean Le Cam, the competitor closest to the sinking. “Kevin had overtaken me the day before,” he remembers at the microphone of Europe 1. In the middle of the night, he tacked to help Kevin Escoffier.

“I imagined the time when I would not find Kevin”

At this time, Jean Le Cam is worried. “I imagined the moment when I would not find Kevin. I imagined the moment when the organization of the race would tell me that we were stopping the research, that I was going to continue my race with that weight on my shoulders for a month and a half. When you imagine this situation there, it’s a situation of total distress. And then you go from this distress to absolute happiness when Kevin gets on the boat. ”

To get Kevin Escoffier on board, however, Le Cam has to do it several times. The skipper must maneuver in the middle of a raging ocean to get as close as possible to the raft on which Escoffier is waiting for him. He finally succeeds in the early hours of the morning, “after 12 hours of uncertainty”. “These very strong contrasts between distress and happiness, the Vendée Globe is full of them. We would have liked to avoid it, but it ended well.”

“The saved thinks he will be rescued, the doubtful savior is still in doubt”

Twelve years earlier, Jean Le Cam had played the other role. During the 2008-2009 edition, when it capsized off Cape Horn, it was Vincent Riou who came to his aid. “I’ve been asked many times if I had that memory in mind when I rescued Kevin. The answer is no. At that point my only goal was to get Kevin back, my mind was completely on that.” Especially since during a rescue, the perspective of the saved and the savior is not at all the same, he explains. “For Kevin, there was no problem, he was going to be rescued. It is the saved who speaks, it was also my case in 2008-2009. The savior, me in this case on this one, is in total doubt. ”

But his doubts vanished when he finally saw Kevin Escoffier. He remembers it today with philosophy: “The human being always sees things a little too dark. On average, we always imagine the worst while it always goes better than what we imagine.”

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