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The editor's focus

The perfect life of an angel


The perfect life of an angel

Actor? Skipper? Seducer? Polynesian? French? Italian? Pierre Cosso is all these things at once. An encounter on the other side of the world, on the water, with an engaging multiple personality, with an unusual story.

Life is made up of encounters. Let's straight away get rid of the one which stuck a 'latin lover' label on him ad vitam æternam: it was of course Pierre who seduced the already very beautiful Sophie Marceau in Claude Pinoteau's film La Boum 2! That was in 1982, almost thirty years have passed and the statute of limitations has certainly run out, but thousands of teenagers who were then wildly in love invariably remember. As for the teenagers we were, we always hesitated between a certain admiration for the achievement, a sham jealousy, as THE Marceau was so much of an untouchable icon, and stubborn resentment for having monopolised the hearts of all our potential girlfriends!   

More seriously, and closer to the theme of your favourite magazine, the real encounter, which partly determined Pierre Cosso's lifestyle nowadays, took place in the Balearic archipelago, more precisely, at Formentera, in the south of Ibiza: with a catamaran, which he saw as a 'big liveable Hobie Cat'. It was one of the very first catamarans built by Gérard Danson, the Outremer 43 'No Limit'. A genuine revelation. Pierre immediately fell in love with it and for more than ten years he tried to get together the means to purchase one. Gérard Danson was not the kind of man to be impressed by a young actor, but he had a big heart. So, through seeing the applicant passing regularly at the yard, never missing a boat show, and hearing him invariable repeating 'one day, I'll have one!', he took a liking to him. And in fact at the end of 2002, thanks to the support of his friends…and the bank, Pierre acquired what was then the architect-builder's latest boat: a superb 45-footer, to which he gave the pretty name 'NusaDua'. He has been living aboard now for ten years.   

As is often the case, a life's scenario was created during childhood. There were firstly the winds of history which pushed the Cosso family a long way from the sea, from Algeria to Paris. It was then his father's library which nourished Pierre's imagination throughout his school years. Of course, he read all the Arthaud editions. But one book marked its young reader particularly: 'Le Bonheur sur la Mer', by France and Christian Guillain. The story of a couple who met in Polynesia, and who returned there under sail from Europe, with their child. Premonitory or decisive?  

In the meantime, summers were an escape. The whole Cosso family headed south, to the Balearic islands, and more precisely, to the wonderful Formentera. They spent all their holidays there, aboard a little 24-foot motor boat. But at the age of 5, Pierre climbed aboard his first Optimist. As a teenager, it was the Hobie Cat 14, then the 16. His father followed him with the binoculars for his first trip to the small island of Espalmador. He spent a night there as an apprentice Robinson Crusoe, eating the fish he had caught. Then came the period of his mates, the mates' boats and taking part in a maximum number of local regattas.

But on the 14 metres of 'NusaDua', Pierre discovered another world. That of the daily maintenance of a boat-home on which you have to be, in turn, a plumber one day, an electrician the next, or a sailmaker the day after. But what continues to appeal to Pierre is always being a sailor! He has learnt to overcome all the adversities, starting with a dismasting on the first passage between France and the Balearics. But it takes more than a faulty cap shroud crimp to kill his passion. He remains inexhaustible when talking about surfs at over twenty knots, regattas which drew tears of joy from his son, such as the 2012 Tour de Taha T-Cup, or the benefits of his lengthened sugar scoops... And not even an extremely painful separation could kill off his dream: Polynesia.

At the end of the 90s, he refused a lucrative television series which would have taken him straight to the atoll of his dreams: 'Les Perles du Pacifique'. But Pierre doesn't compromise with myths. He wanted to arrive in Polynesia by boat, not in an aeroplane! So when, through obstinacy, he reached his objective, the reality was even better than the dream. He cried with emotion and admiration when he arrived in the Gambiers. The man who had come from a professional environment where money and egos rule, learnt an enormous amount from these people, whose authenticity breaks down all barriers. I think he will always be grateful to them for having taught him to live in the present and not project himself too much into the future, thus scorning the ambition which is devouring the world.    

So after an initiatory Atlantic crossing, several years in the West Indian arc, where he had both good (high speed sailing, heavenly anchorages, the arrival of Lino…) and bad (Hurricane Ivan in 2004 devastated everything in its path but not 'NusaDua', which was hidden in the mangrove) experiences,  Polynesia welcomed him. Tahiti held on to him. Huahine allowed him to build himself up again, and gave him a taste for sharing again, in the person of the willowy Rautea. The accomplished athlete turned into an excellent crew member: tacks, gybes, hoisting and furling the spinnaker quickly held no secrets for her. And she quite likes moving 'NusaDua' singlehanded to another anchorage when Pierre is absent. Today, the cat is anchored at Huahine, in the lagoon, off the 'capital' Faré. It takes advantage of its shallow draft to get away from the crowd. From its cockpit, they can admire the mountains which resemble a woman lying on her back in the water - the origin of the name (Ile de femme) of this little corner of paradise. Advertisement: in the only supermarket on the island, which also serves as a newsagent, Multihulls World is the only sailing magazine available. It's a sign!

Pierre is reproducing with Lino (7), and will tomorrow with Noa (6 months), the apprenticeship his father lavished on him. Lino became the king of the Optimist and soon the captain of a Bic Sport, a surfing enthusiast and an experienced diver. Passing cruising boats are the opportunity for enriching and educational encounters for Lino. A Japanese skipper, English or Japanese children, we become sociable very quickly, even though we know it's only for a few days, or worse, a few hours. Like all children of his age, Lino goes to school. With the notable difference that he goes to the primary school in Faré every the dinghy. Noa likes nothing better than speeding across the lagoon, comfortable on his father's knee! The starboard sail locker, carefully repainted in pastel colours with plaited palm headlining, has been turned into a nursery! The catamaran still regularly welcomes passengers. The advantage of the space offered by a multihull, the 'clients' are welcomed as a family. Attracted by this out of the ordinary universe, they become friends, more often than not.

Despite the distance, the family links remain strong. Pierre's mother has just made some new covers for the cockpit cushions and for the last ten years, his father has been looking after the very nice web site ( relating life aboard 'NusaDua'. Without wishing to indulge in pipe dreams, and despite the charm of Polynesian life, Pierre still envisages completing his round the world trip. He feels that the right moment is approaching. After 12 years, it's harder for the children. The cinema or theatre proposals are not equal to the issue of repatriation of the family (even temporarily) towards old and far-off Europe. So the next part of the route is already in a corner of his mind. New Caledonia first of all, then Australia. But above all, India and Thailand. Then leaving the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope will continue his waking dream On the way to Brazil, St Helena seems to him to be an essential and historic stopover. Then Brazil, before Panama, to above all return to Polynesia! I would wager that you will start dreaming when reading the pages of 'El Capitano's' web site, which has already influenced many potential round the world sailors on two or three hulls!  
Further reading


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