Haro on the received ideas about the eating habits of our sailors of the Vendée Globe. No, we don’t go swordfish fishing aboard an Imoca, but yes, we still manage to have a little fun during a solo round the world nonstop. And we are not talking (only) about bottles of wine, champagne and other offerings to Neptune for the passage to the equator. The skippers’ menu is starting to expand, even if freeze-dried foods and their excellent onboard weight / nutritional intake ratio remain the norm.
This is notably the bet taken by the Briton Sam Davies (Initiatives Cœur), a little embarrassed to talk about gastronomy with us before the race “because in England, we are not known for having the best food. But since you ask, I have freeze-dried dishes that I like, I prefer that than canned food and then I’m happy like that, it’s less weight on board. “
But today, and although the Morbihan-based Lyophilise & Co supplies 30 of the 33 competing boats – proof that it is difficult to do without gunpowder – we sometimes come close to indigestion within the fleet. At Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée), it is completely assumed. “Me, I really took this fold, to draw a line over it. At the beginning I only sailed with freeze-dried and one fine day it ended up disgusting me. I leave with canned, cooked and vacuum packed dishes. I take only that, but more freeze-dried. “
Fill the stomach and nourish the mind
Less radical, Charlie Dalin keeps a freeze-dried base while also incorporating appetizer on board with a ratio of a vacuum-packed dish “a little richer in flavors and especially in micronutrients of prime importance” every four meals. “It is a real guarantee of performance over the duration of the race and a strong argument which compensates for the additional kilos conceded to this type of vacuum feed,” explains the Apivia team.
In a three-month race as intense as the Vendée Globe, the intrinsic nutritional contribution of a diet is not sufficient to guarantee the skipper’s good health over the long haul. The disadvantage of the freeze-dried resides in its blandness, an aggravating factor of weariness and enemy of the mind of any competitor, whatever his discipline. “It’s not just a question of calories! You also have to feel the urge to eat, ”says Sam Davies. In other words, food has a psychological dimension that should not be neglected in order to perform. Sébastien Simon, on Arkéa-Paprec:
“The conditions on board are increasingly harsh, so mentally it’s important to bring more comfort, whether material or food, to last for the duration of the race. “
“In his bags,” says Apivia, “Charlie Dalin will also find what the nutritionist calls“ food cuddly toys ”, which, thanks to the feeling of comfort they provide, allow the release of soothing enzymes and work as boosters. “And in the end, the current third in the race is not doing so badly with 160 kg of food for 75 days of the race (the average is around 150 kg).
Davies and the Chocolate Factory
Another advantage of “real” food is the staging. Completely secondary aspect of life on board, you will agree. But in an adventure that wants to be close to its audience, this is not entirely trivial. We were able to appreciate Louis Burton’s Top Chef moment, taking advantage of the heat of the trade winds to make a summer salad and its touch of truffle oil “while [nous] in France, [on mange] tartiflettes ”. Or the breakfast of Manuel Cousin (Groupe Sétin), caught stuffing himself with good old chocolate bread on board. For Dalin, we expect his unboxing of cashews, canned tuna and other “beef jerky”, which we find in the radius of his guilty pleasures on board.
6th of @VendeeGlobe, the skipper of @vallee 2 is heading towards the Doldrums at 18.2 knots on average over the last 4 hours. Sailor and boat are doing well. In “Top Chef” fashion and in a T-shirt, Louis Burton is preparing a summer salad, seasoned with his favorite olive oil! pic.twitter.com/olCye1soHU
— Louis Burton (@LouisBurtonOff) November 17, 2020
This is for the official part. Unofficially, it is not uncommon for those close to skippers to sneak in additional food bonuses for special occasions. Burton: “I find out and as I go. They always leave me stuff for the equator, Christmas, etc. It is a source of motivation when I discover them. ” Not bad. But in the game of cheat-meal, Sam Davies is definitely our winner: “I have wine, cheese, smoothies, but above all, I’m lucky to have a chocolate factory as a partner. So I have chocolate too. He’s a bit of the dream partner. “