Amélie Grassi is only 26 years old, but she already has a fine CV in the world of ocean racing. And yet, even though she was immersed in the world of ocean racing as a child, she almost went in other directions.
Amélie Grassi grew up in La Rochelle, close to the sea, with parents who were passionate about sailing and regattas. Her mother, Sandrine Bertho, took part in the Mini Transat in 2009, while her father, Olivier Grassi, took part in the Route du Rhum 2010 and the Transat Jacques Vabre 2007. And that's just the beginning.
Young Amélie followed in their footsteps from an early age, first in the Optimist class, then discovering regattas as a teenager, before joining a sailing school in La Baule (Loire-Atlantique). Amélie then took a 'break' after her baccalauréat to study.
Between thesis and Mini-transat, my heart sways
She passionately completed a Master 2 in employment law between Nantes and Paris. "I hesitated about doing a thesis. I was really passionate about these studies", she assures us. But the call of the sea was stronger than anything and Amélie chose to prepare for the 2019 Mini-transat rather than embark on a long-term study. "I might do my thesis later, but I told myself that the Mini was now or never! At 25, life is so light, you don't have to throw everything away to embark on a project like this.
Full of enthusiasm, Amélie finished her studies in 2017 and threw herself heart and soul into her Mini-transat project. She bought a boat and enrolled at the Lorient training centre. Along the way, she came across a certain Loïck Peyron. "In fact, when I heard that he was looking for a youngster to sail the Figaro season with him, I got up the courage to give him a call.
A season with Loïck Peyron
To her great surprise, the famous sailor took her straight under his wing. "I did the Figaro season double-handed with him in 2019, in addition to the Mini circuit!" With her recent boat and intensive training, Amélie was aiming for a very good place in the 2019 Mini-transat.
"I finished 5th on the first leg to the Canaries, so I was really happy. Then, on the second leg, I went full blast under spinnaker and after an hour, a key part that holds the line outside exploded! I had to turn back...".
It was tragedy for the young woman who had invested two years of her life in this project. "I'd never been so sad. And it took me about ten hours to get back to port because the wind was up my nose...".
But luck smiled on Amélie Grassi when she arrived at the pontoon. "Hendrik Witzmann hadn't started the second leg because he'd broken a meniscus. He had already dismantled his front part and given it to me when I arrived. It was great, I went for a nap and my technical team fixed everything! I set off again straight away and crossed the start line just 14 hours after the others.
Amélie Grassi knew that she would have to give up her goal of competing, but she was only too happy to be able to race anyway. "I had a blast, I wasn't even stressed about the rankings! And I don't know how I managed it, but I still came 9th in the second leg!
Since 2021, she has been skipper of the Class40 La Boulangère Bio. During her winter refit, she was called upon by Paul Meilhat to take part in The Ocean Race, notably on several legs.