Vendée Globe - Safran Sailing Team prepare food supplies

Safran Sailing Team - Vendée Globe 2012
© Jean-Marie Liot
Vendée Globe 2012-2013, an around the world race for single handed sailors, will start from Les Sables d’Olonne on Saturday 10th November 2012.

Eighty days of sailing around the world, or in other words about twelve weeks where the skipper has to be completely independent. The food taken aboard is a vital element for the sailor taking part in a race. So planning and preparing the meals is equally important. We met up with Patricia Brault, who is in charge of logistics and supplies in the Safran Sailing Team.

How many kilos of food will be taken aboard the Safran monohull for the Vendée Globe?
Patricia Brault: We are planning around 150 kilos, divided up into six watertight bags. Each bag contains a fortnight’s worth of food. Marc takes what he wants, what he thinks he requires, what is most practical for him at each stage of the race. The goal is to come up with something that is varied, tastes good, is light, but offers enough calories, and above all, it has to be well organised.

What exactly is in the bags and how are the menus prepared?
P.B.: Marc prefers ready-prepared meals, sealed in plastic, which can be heated up in hot water in the bag or in the pan, rather than dehydrated or freeze-dried products. Having said that, the suppliers have made a lot of progress over the past four years and so we have a mixture of prepared and freeze-dried meals. I am always looking out for the latest ideas from three companies, who work with nutritionists. I then get Marc to taste these dishes when at home or out sailing. He then tells me what he thinks and ticks on a chart what he wants. For the Vendée Globe, he will be able to choose between around fifty different dishes, including thirty ready-prepared meals. For example, classic meals like pork in a mustard sauce, stewed pork with lentils, cottage pie… But there are also finer dishes, such as a seafood stew or monkfish with diced vegetables.

He won’t be eating the same sort of food in the tropical heat as in the icy cold conditions in the southern ocean. How do you deal with that?
P.B.: The six bags of supplies are numbered according to the type of weather. When sailing off Brazil, there will be more bulgur wheat salads and 'fresh' produce than in the Indian or Pacific Ocean, where he will require more calories. Of course, after that, Marc takes what he wants out of the bags. We must remember too that Marc is not a keen dessert eater, but has a special bag on board for breakfast with dried fruits and a special sea bread made in l'Aber Wrac'h in NW Brittany: in the last Vendée Globe, the bread was still good right down to the Kerguelen Islands!'

The skipper of Safran pays close attention to what he needs to feed himself and therefore to what he eats: 'There is always the same guiding principle: healthy eating with a nice taste, light and yet supplying me with enough calories,' he said to sum up. This is a key factor, especially when we see that a single-handed sailor requires twice as many calories per day in the southern ocean as an office worker for example. So, just as for his first Vendée Globe, Marc Guillemot has been working with a nutritionist, in particular during a special day that was organised at the Finistère Ocean Racing Training Centre.

What about drinks? 'Water and green tea with ginger and never any alcohol at sea.'
Any special treats? 'No chocolate bars or sweets, but some Hénaff pâté, sardines and cod liver', (the only canned food aboard). 'I know I need three cans a week, which means around forty in all. I prefer to make that small concession in terms of the weight stowed aboard, as I know what I like and I do well with that. At sea, that is so enjoyable that it is well worth weighing down the bags with that. Of course, I have to move them around to stack (moving the bags from one side of the boat to the other to get the right balance according to the point of sail, editor’s note) but the further along we go in the race, the lighter they get. And let’s not forget that in the cold weather in the southern ocean, life can be a bit tough, so a little sardine sandwich as a starter helps out a lot. They’re full of energy!'

Safran Sailing Team website
Vendée Globe website