Damien, or the 1968 dream of two very young French sailors

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Do you know the story of the Damien? The self-built 10-meter with which Gerard Janichon and Jerome Poncet embarked on an incredible, “post-1968” adventure?

SAIL, IF YOU WANT TO FIND YOURSELF (1969)
Set sail, to find peace with yourself. In pure Sixty-Eight spirit, Gerard Janichon and Jerome Poncet embarked on the Damien, a ten-meter self-built sloop, for a four-year (1969-73) round-the-world voyage. From the ice to the equator, they were among the first to prove that with daring, sacrifice, and unscrupulousness, dreams can be realized. The boat was declared a national monument.

Their sailing also had difficult moments, like the one they themselves recount, in the Journal of Sailing, in 1976.

damien
French sailors Jerome Poncet and Gerard Janichon sail through a force 10 storm at the 56th parallel south with the Damien, a 10-meter wooden boat with which they sailed 55,000 miles

Damien is capsized for the third time, takes on water and remains upside down, these are the feelings the two French sailors experience, trapped below deck, helpless in the midst of the storm:

For a sailor it is a good end. Finishing with one’s own boat. We said our goodbyes, words of friendship.

Long sentences are useless between us, and we are not here to make movies…Gradually torpor envelops us…I fall asleep. We cannot act or react because there is nothing we can do with a boat that has its keel in the air, with water seeping in from nowhere, with the will that no longer exists already…In the cabin of the Damien there is a sense of alienation. An upside-down sense. Just imagine your everyday world, turned upside down: and you walking on the ceiling, in the dark…How can a sailboat with a ballast of 1600 kg refuse to immediately recover its normal balance? It would only take a trifle for the ballast lever arm to kick in and cause the hull to regain its center-of-gravity logic…the boat shakes: the water inside starts lapping.

And then the commotion and Damien becomes Damien again and straightens up on the left. lasted only a second, with wild aggression, as with the cry of the newborn at the act of birth.

And it is a birth! We struggle feverishly against drowning, icy water seeps everywhere. It takes a few seconds to realize that we are alive, that the boat is floating“.

WHO ARE JEROME PONCET AND GERARD JANICHON
Jerome Poncet_photoIn 1969, after building themselves the 10-meter Damien with their own hands, they set off on a World Tour. They will stay at sea 5 years and 50,000 miles going from the ice of Greenland to the warm waters of the West Indies. Damien is a French historical monument. Pictured is Jerome Poncet born in 1945 in Grenoble, France.

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