On Friday, May 3rd, while Paul Meilhat was sailing in third position in The Transat CIC, his IMOCA collided with an unidentified floating object (UFO). An event not without consequences, which damaged the foil and the port-side well of his IMOCA Biotherm, forcing the skipper to slow down. After three days of silence, he finally speaks out about this ordeal.

"Biotherm is sailing in 3rd position at the exit of the depression heading towards New York. It's tapping moderately, I'm in the cockpit and I'm not moving at all. I look behind, the two rudders are in place and haven't unhooked. I hope it's the keel because considering the weakness of the impact there shouldn't be any damage. Last option is the foil, I bear away to get it out of the water with the boat heeled over and I see that the outer casing has disappeared.

I go inside to check for damage to the trunk, noticing a slight leak. We'll have to take it very gently but we can sail. First, we analyze from a safety standpoint, then technically, it keeps us occupied.

What did you hit? I don't know, but maybe we'll see damage when inspecting.

Rather accustomed to technical and racing mishaps in recent years, we don't need to communicate much with the team to know what we have to do: we'll just "deal with it." Onshore they're getting organized and at sea, I ruminate or vice versa. I still have stays and even antennas that work, I'm not going to start complaining.

The first sensation that comes next is fatigue, linked to the release of pressure because if the race isn't officially over, it is in part in my head.

So, yes, we talk about values and all that, but the race is still made to win. There, that was the small parenthesis of the frustrated high-level athlete who will finish the race.

Then I think of the technical team, the sponsor, all those who follow the project. Months of work at the shipyard so that every detail gets closer to perfection. We were perfect in this race, not a single item on the job list. The pain is all the greater. Then come feelings that are more complex to express.

It's the same thing the rider must think when falling off a horse and knowing that if he doesn't get back up quickly, it will be complicated, except that he has the choice not to get back on, we don't, we have to keep going. Difficult and beneficial at the same time because time will do its work and this end of the race will undoubtedly serve as a gateway to digest this big blow to morale.

It's starting to accumulate quite a few experiences, frustrations.

We come back stronger, I once heard this comparison: with each trial in life, we add a brick to our backpack. The bag becoming heavier, we become stronger, but that's not necessarily my philosophy of life. I want to keep that carefreeness, ultimately to be more like a reed than an oak.

I came to find confidence in the sailor/boat duo on these transatlantic crossings. Let's say I gained confidence in myself because sports-wise it was going well and lost a bit of confidence in the boat, so I'll have to go back to have fun selfishly but especially to share it with as many people as possible.

I still love the sea and competition just as much, so it should work out.

I have 5 days to think about it..."

Paul Meilhat