For 34-year-old Corentin Horeau the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre will be his first race in the IMOCA Class, as he begins his journey to what he hopes will be his first Vendée Globe in 2028.

The winner of this year’s La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec on board Banque Populaire, Horeau is regarded as one of the brightest young stars in French solo racing and he’s looking forward to learning all he can on board Guyot Environnement - Water Family from its well-travelled skipper Benjamin Dutreux.

We caught up with Horeau at the race village in Le Havre as he prepared for his debut in the Class. And the sailor from Trinité-sur-Mer, who also has plenty of big boat experience in the Ultim class, was in ebullient mood as he prepared to take on the Atlantic on a 60ft foiling monohull for the first time. 

Corentin, you must be feeling very confident and with a real sense of momentum as you come into IMOCA on the back of your big Figaro win?

Yeah, yeah…it is very important to win the Figaro. There are not too many people who have won it and it’s good for me on my way to the Vendée Globe. 

He pauses and laughs: I have my baccalaureat now!

You have come into the Class straight from your Figaro campaign. Why did you choose Guyot environnement - Water Family ?

I had a lot of choice for the Transat Jacques Vabre. Guyot environnement - Water family was a good option because during The Ocean Race they had a lot of work to do on the boat and it was good timing for me because they put it back in the water as I finished my Figaro. But Benjamin and I have only had seven days sailing together so far, including our qualification.

How did you find it?

It was very interesting for me. There are a lot of things to trim – the keel, the foils and a lot of sail configurations to try. I did a lot of Ultim sailing on Sodebo, Spindrift and a little on Banque Populaire, but the IMOCA is easier, so it’s good for me.


Could you sense how the boat wanted to sail – when it was performing at its best?

For the moment I am focusing on the numbers. But, step-by-step, I will improve my skills on board because seven days is not enough time to do that yet....

What is that boat like to sail – even in light winds?

Well, it is very wet even in light conditions because, at the back of the cockpit, there is no barrier so the waves come back from the rudders…it’s very strange but Benjamin tells me it’s OK, it’s normal…

How will you cope with sleeping and eating and looking after yourself on board as you cross the Atlantic?

It will be difficult because when the boat is flying sometimes there are big crashes. But on the delivery to Le Havre we had 50 knots and I was in the bunk and it was OK.

Like many people you can get seasick, I understand?

Yeah, I use a patch because I get sick sometimes, but so far only on an Ultim. In the big Ultimes it’s like being on the Metro hanging onto the rail above your head…

Tell us about sailing with Benjamin and the Guyot environnement - Water family team?

Well it’s great for me because I can ask Benjamin how to do this and that, so I can learn. Last year, with The Ocean Race, Guyot Environnement - Water family achieved a lot. Each time they had a problem, they said ‘OK, we have a solution and we come back.’ And now, fingers crossed, the boat is OK. It is ready and all the team are very smart and very focused on the Transat Jacques Vabre with a boat that is in very good condition.

Has Benjamin learned a lot from the experience he went through in The Ocean Race?

Yes, but not just Benjamin, all the team. Because it is a very young group and they all want to improve, so there is a great spirit there.

What would be a good result for you in this Transat Jacques Vabre ?

It’s important to understand the potential of the boat because maybe we have six or seven boats in league one. On Guyot environnement - Water family, maybe if we finished 10th, that would be good. Top-five would be amazing. Top-three, I can’t speak about that. But top-10 would be good for the team. With all the bad stuff in The Ocean Race, it is very important to make a good race now.

Tell us about your own long-term goals – is it all about IMOCA for you now?

Yes, maybe – my IMOCA…

Do you have a route planned out to the Vendée Globe, or not yet?

You have to ask God – hahaha – yeah, the 2028 Vendée Globe would be a good objective.

And what about The Ocean Race – does that interest you too?

If I find a sponsor for the Vendée Globe, maybe The Ocean Race could be part of the programme. At the beginning for me, The Ocean Race was about old boats with 10 people on board – ‘Life at the Extreme’ – but now, in IMOCA, we are inside the boats, not with water in our faces, and it could be a real option because a lot of IMOCA teams are interested in being part of the next edition. Maybe there will be 10 or 15 boats and it can be good.

Apart from big-boat sailing Corentin, what else do you enjoy?

Wing surfing and cycling. I do a lot of road cycling and before that mountain biking. I follow the Tour de France and I like going in the mountains in summer and climbing the same hills as the Tour guys. I also enjoy Moth sailing and I have a WASZP – foiling is the future and all the time I am on the water I use foils, which will be useful for the future in IMOCA.

And who would you say has been the most influential person in your career so far?

Ah, that’s a difficult question. Perhaps Thomas Coville because he gave me a chance on the big boat and I did a Jules Verne attempt with him in 2020 on Sodebo. Thomas is a good person with very big experience and I think he wanted to give a chance to young people for which I am very grateful.

Thanks Corentin and good luck in the race.

Ed Gorman