Do you know Oliver Heer? This Swiss sailor, with a broad smile, boasts significant experience in offshore racing as the former boat captain of Alex Thomson. Since then, he has become the skipper of his own IMOCA and is registered for the upcoming Vendée Globe.

His previous season ended on a difficult note, with an abandonment during the Transat Jacques Vabre due to damage on the port side D1 of his standing rigging, which detached from the mast of his IMOCA just a day after the start.

We contacted him to get an update before a year filled with miles, as he'll be participating in both transatlantic races on the program, with the Vendée Globe in sight.


First of all, how are you?

I'm doing very well, but it's really time to go sailing! The winter has been intense at the shipyard. It's been a long time since I've been on the water, and I really need to get back out there. I think that'll be the moment when I'll feel even more fulfilled!

Last year, you had to leave your boat in Spain during the Transat Jacques Vabre. How did you arrange for its return to Port-la-Forêt?

The abandonment during the Transat Jacques Vabre was extremely frustrating. We sought refuge in Spain to escape difficult weather conditions, and we had to wait for a while before we had a favorable weather window to resume sailing. We then decided to restart cautiously, considering the condition of our boat. Once ashore, we quickly hauled the boat out of the water for necessary repairs...

How did you overcome this event?

In those moments, it's easy to see everything in a negative light. In offshore racing, we always encounter issues. The challenge is to find the positive in these negative situations. Personally, I really tried to make the most of what was happening to us. For me, it was an opportunity to put our boat in the shipyard earlier than planned, to prepare for the next season!

By the way, how did the winter shipyard work go?

We spent the winter at Mer Agitée in Port-la-Forêt. We had a lot of work: updating electronics with Pixel Sur Mer, installing new solar panels for onboard energy production, acquiring new sails from Quantum... We also rebuilt a cap because the old one was no longer watertight. Instead of trying to repair it, we decided to make a new one. In anticipation of the Transat CIC, where cold and humidity will be prevalent, it was crucial to have at least one dry spot on board.

When is the boat scheduled to be launched?

It's scheduled for Monday! We left Mer Agitée today. On Monday, we'll launch the boat and then set it up on its cradle. We hope to set sail at the end of next week!

Do you feel ready for the season?

More than ready! I think I've never been better prepared mentally and physically. The boat itself is in excellent condition! I'm really looking forward to crossing the Atlantic twice. Although the two races follow almost the same course, they will be very different.

What are your goals?

If my boat and I manage to finish both transatlantic races in the spring without any major incidents, I'll be extremely confident for the Vendée Globe. Last year, we achieved good results in the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Défi Azimut. Now, I want to prove to myself and others that I can sail effectively on longer routes. That's my main goal for The Transat CIC and the New-York Vendée - Les Sables d'Olonne.

I also want to learn not to always sail at 110%, but at 90% when necessary to protect myself and the boat. The two spring transats will be an excellent test for that!

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