Did Yvan Bourgnon tell lies or did they miss the point of his enterprise?

Did Yvan Bourgnon “cheat?” Apparently, the Swiss yachtsman, famous for his off-the-chart exploits (such as circumnavigating the globe on a 6.2o m catamaran in 2013-2015: thirty thousand miles, 27 stopovers, three oceans and thirteen seas crossed, 300 scuffs and one shipwreck), has slept in hotels, received assistance and was even towed by a motor boat during his solo record attempt (71 days, in 2017) to cross the mythical Northwest Passage (the route, first traveled by Roald Amundsen in 1906, that joins the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic archipelago of Canada) and appeared before a court in Paris.

Yvan Bourgnon

Did Yvan Bourgnon tell fibs?

Bourgnon had attracted media attention after making the arduous crossing on his sailing microcatamaran (without motor) in the ice, telling of battling polar bears and freezing temperatures. Alone, without help.

Yvan Bourgnon on his Bimedia catamaran in 2017 attempt to cross the Northwest Passage

However, a lawsuit pending in French courts, revolving around a “querelle” over exploitation rights to the company’s documentary images, is likely to debunk Bourgnon: According to the lawsuit, it appears that the 50-year-old sailor spent numerous nights in a hotel in the Canadian Arctic. And not only that, he is also said to have received assistance and even been towed by a Dutch motor boat in parts of the Northwest Passage: an article in the German newspaper NZZ, back in 2018, claimed that Bourgnon was towed more than 150 kilometers while also providing him with shelter and food on board for six days during a period of frost and blizzard.

Writes Marine Industry,“The article also reports statements from a sailor who claims that she provided Bourgnon with an anchor chain and that he would ask her to keep it a secret.”

“I wasn’t making any records!”

But how does Bourgnon defend himself? He strongly denies and dismisses all charges. He stated that he was towed a couple of hundred meters “on one occasion” to leave a roadstead.

But what evidence is there? Marine Industry always writes: The Times reports that the documentary’s production company, which had mounted six cameras on Bourgnon’s catamaran during the voyage, told the court that the footage did not capture evidence of some of Bourgnon’s more extreme stories, including that of fending off a polar bear with a gunshot after it boarded his catamaran. While the sailor is said to have previously insisted that he spent the entire trip exclusively aboard his catamaran, Bourgnon dismisses the allegations by denying that he beat any record.”

“I slept in a hotel, so what?” he reportedly told the French newspaper Le Figaro. “Should I have abandoned the enterprise?”

Bourgnon also responded to the allegations on his Facebook page, telling that there was no intention to record nonstop: “Making the trip nonstop was a wish, not a commitment…. I also tell about it on page 96 of my book “Conquerant des Glaces” published in 2018. I spent four nights in Taloyoak (in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, ed.) in algeco (prefabricated, ed.) type summer housing ...”

Yvan bourgnon
The page in Bourgnon’s book where the sailor says he “never said he would never set foot ashore” and admits to spending four nights in accommodation during the course of his adventure

Whether Yvan Bourgnon actually “cheated” will be determined by the judges. The court’s decision is expected on December 6.




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