crossing the Atlantic with a rally

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Hervé has a touching memory of his first Atlantic crossing. In 1991, he set off for the first time across the Atlantic aboard a Catana 48 (Coriolis) to see what was on the other side of the ocean… An intense moment, a unique feeling, to live a teenage dream, and to touch the sailor’s Grail. This crossing had a special flavour, as it was the first edition of the Transat des Passionnés, which Hervé and his crew won brilliantly, arriving on 24th December, two days before his wedding… A reason to have (very) good memories of this magical moment!
Hervé has just finished his second crossing. Once again aboard a Catana (a 50’) and again as part of the Transat des Passionnés. A second adventure which was very different from the first: this one was to keep a promise made to a friend when he bought the boat. Sharing a moment of friendship and thus above all a human adventure.
Because, from these two experiences, Hervé has retained memories of an adventure that was above all human, rather than maritime. Spending from fifteen days to three weeks at sea, in a confined space, teaches you much more about yourself than years of psychoanalysis… Hervé has no hesitation in talking about ‘boat therapy’. At sea, problems can be solved in two seconds which would take two months to appreciate on land… The rhythm of life is so different, strong and unique, that it really is a privileged moment in the life of a man or woman. You live simply, without the contrivances of our modern life. No portable phone, no e-mail or work problems to solve!  

-  And on arrival, what memories remain of such a crossing?

“15 or 20 days become two seconds of memories”, Hervé told us. “A feeling and thousands of images, more or less strong, but always superb”…
And then there are the anecdotes, sometimes funny, sometimes awful, such as the time when on leaving Hyères, the Catana 48 had 35 knots of wind on the nose for a week… Enough to make you ask yourself what you are doing in this mess. Or again, the time when, in the middle of the night, the whole crew found themselves furling the spinnaker in a squall, before realising in the morning that the trampoline was half torn. Very frightening, in retrospect, when he imagined the whole crew in the water, in the middle of the night…
And then there are the good moments, when, for example, alone at the helm in the middle of the night, you don’t wake the next watchkeeper, so you can enjoy for a few more minutes the feeling of plenitude, of that indescribable joy of being alone in the world under a sky studded with stars. A moment of pure magic and happiness which is both simple and intense. .
So, should crossing the Atlantic be repeated?
Hervé has no doubts; it is an experience to be lived. Absolutely! Subject to simple and rigorous preparation and above all good sea sense, allowing you to be vigilant concerning safety, without spoiling life for the crew, the crossing is a moment which will remain fixed in your mind. Today Hervé dreams of one day moving on to the next stage, the absolute dream: a singlehanded crossing – for the human adventure that it represents, the introspection it leads to and the selfish pleasure of having done it!


A successful Atlantic crossing is not arriving on the other side…but arriving still friends with those who have shared the adventure. It is not difficult from a sailing point of view, on the other hand, it is not easy on a human level. So before getting angry with your crew (or wife, or children) because they have left crumbs all over the boat, think hard…

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