Alexia Barrier on the way to her dream

Alexia Barrier will be one of the three women competing in the 2018 Route du Rhum in the IMOCA category on the oldest boat in the fleet, the legendary Pingouin, a Lombard designed boat from 1998 renamed 4myplanet2

One of the three women competing in the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in the IMOCA category, Alexia Barrier will not be forgetting her competitive nature, even if she is racing on the oldest boat in the fleet, the legendary Pingouin (a Lombard designed boat from 1998 renamed 4myplanet2). Based in Antibes in the Mediterranean, Alexia is continuing her preparation and recently obtained her qualification. We met up with a sailor, who is gradually edging towards the dream she has had since she was a child, the Vendée Globe. 

Alexia, how did your 1200-mile qualifier for the Route du Rhum go?

The weather was rough, but it all went well. I set off from Antibes on 22nd August and came back almost six days later after sailing in the Gulf of Lion, around Corsica and Sardinia, then close to Italy. I managed to check that my IMOCA was solid in these tricky conditions in amongst a lot of shipping. She’s a very physical boat. I took my time carrying out manoeuvres not to wear myself out. I wanted to remain cautious to ensure I got my qualification and made this big step forward towards the Route du Rhum.”

Previously, we saw you in the Monaco Globe Series, but you didn’t take part in the Dhream Cup. Why was that?

I don’t have the budget to be able to compete in all the races, so I favour those in theIMOCA Globe Series calendar, the new world championship for the class, which brings together the major races in the circuit for the period from 2018-2021 (editor’s note). That was the case for the new event in Monaco, which taught me a lot, as I had only just got my hands on the boat. With my co-skipper Pierre Quiroga, we were only just getting to know her. Aboard our old boat, we managed to sail cleanly and for three-quarters of the race were up with the other competitors, who had much better performing boats.”

How do you feel about the Route du Rhum? What are you aiming for on what is after all the oldest boat in the IMOCA fleet?

“TheRoute du Rhum will be something new for me, but also for the boat, as strangely, she has set off six times around the world (including four times in the Vendée Globe), but she has never taken part in the Route du Rhum. It’s going to be hard to keep up with the other competitors. I’ll be looking for other ways to work and giving it my all in any case, as I am a very competitive person. I’m lucky to be able to compete in this race, which is also a great opportunity to practice as we look forward to the 2020 Vendée Globe, which is the ultimate challenge for me.”

Going beyond the sporting performance, your project conveys a strong message…

Yes, the boat is a tool serving otherchallenges. My project has been developing since 2009 on various boats around four themes: sport, education, science and technology. During my sailing trips, I shall for example be collecting scientific data, such as the salinity and temperature of the water on the surface. I shall also be observing giant mammals and watching out for rubbish and plastic. We shall also be producing an educational kit about the oceans for schools and colleges. Around fifty classes across France will be following the project.”

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