Let’s take a cue from some news events for our “thesis.” A few months ago the winner of the Route du Rhum, 3,542 miles solo from Saint Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe was Francis Joyon.
He is 62 years old. The sailor born in 1956 in Hanches (in the agricultural plain of the small and remote Eur et Loire region), famous for his ocean records, looked like a kid aboard his maxi-trimaran IDEC Sport, 31.50 x 22-meter “beast.”
Shortly before, Jean-Luc Van den Heede, 73, scuffed in the middle of the Pacific at the Golden Globe Race (non-stop solo round-the-world race on pre-1988 long keel boats without electronics) while leading the race, “got back up” and despite the damage to the mast decided to continue, quoting Moitessier, “I have to get to Les Sables d’Olonne to save my soul.” And it looks like he will succeed: tomorrow he is expected to arrive as a winner in Les Sables.
What does it all mean? That sailing is one of the very few sports where the “physical decline” due to age is largely offset by experience. You will say, “Beautiful examples you have cited! Joyon and Van den Heede (who, let’s remember, holds the record for circumnavigating the globe solo nonstop from west to east against prevailing winds) are great sailors.”
True, but sailing is also the two gentlemen from Modena who with their Amel shot their way around the world at age 70(HERE their beautiful story), is Angela Besana Gagliardi, at the helm of a Dufour at the last VELA Cup at the age of 100 (on the cover). He is Sven Yrvind, the 80-year-old Swede who embarks on microboat crossings. It is Rossana, who on the popular Facebook group “Sailors in Facebook” writes: “MADNESS HAS NO AGE. Me 73, Stephen 79, we treated ourselves to a Wauquier Centurion 47. We are devoting all our free time to a complete overhaul and fine-tuning, and set sail for where the wind takes us“. Allow us to correct you, dear Rossana. No madness, his. It is sailing that is ageless!