Who's Who - Roland Jourdain: Prioritizing the environment

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As a teenager, Roland cut his teeth on the water in what he called his “Bermuda Triangle“: the Brittany ports of Concarneau, Cape Coz and Port-La-Forêt. His friends were Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean Le Cam and Jean-Luc Nélias. They had the same passion, and so they ended up with the same profession: ocean racer. They were the ones who popularized the nickname “Bilou“, but it was he alone who earned one of the best records in French sailing, including two victories in the Route du Rhum and three appearances in the Vendée Globe (3rd in 2001).

As for the Solitaire du Figaro, he took to it like oysters, half a dozen at a time. But don’t count on him bragging about it: he prefers to add just the right amount of self-deprecation to his humility. However, he has seen many races and podiums, and not only in monohulls. His first memory of multihull racing is of long glides on an 11-meter (35-foot) catamaran designed by Gilles Ollier and built by Multiplast, of course. A kind of reduced model of Jet Services that inspired the Formula 40s. That was an era he lived intensely, and never far away from his three companions mentioned above. He never missed an opportunity to put on a show, once towing Jean Le Cam on water skis in Brest harbor behind their small catamaran. Of course, he was part of the dream team of the man now known as King Jean on board his mythical trimaran Biscuits Cantreau. The crew dominated the Formula 40 class for several seasons, culminating in the title of world champion in 1989. But Bilou doesn’t talk about that, nor about his victories in the 60-foot Orma trimaran with Laurent Bourgnon (1991 Course de l’Europe), or with the late Paul Vatine (1995 Route du Café). No, he prefers to talk about his passionate take on today’s big multihulls, Ultim and Ocean Fifty, which have all started to fly “since Archimedes retired“, he confides to us with a great burst of infectious laughter.

But he also admits that he sometimes feels a bit schizophrenic between the competitor in him who’s “doped up on performance“ and the harsh environmental reality that he understood, long before ecological awareness was in the news. Passing for a madman in the eyes of some, he began to question the carbon footprint of Kairos, the ocean racing team he had founded only two years earlier, in 2009. Performance without conscience is not the man’s style. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have good things to say, even on ...

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