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Vendée Globe sailors in front of the door that opens onto an unknown, prodigious, disturbing world

Bonne-Esperance marks the entry into this “tunnel” into which the Vendée Globe fleet will rush to cross Cape Leeuwin, in southern Australia, leaving the Indian Ocean. Then finally Cape Horn, after a month, the only one of the three capes that is visible to the naked eye (56e south), at the end of the Pacific crossing.

Bonne-Espérance is the weight of history that is also measured in barrels, freight, import, export and colonization. Magellan, Vasco de Gama and the Dutch shipowners of the East India Company, dislodged from the principalities of Malaysia by the English at the end of the Napoleonic wars.

The great South is therefore the road to warehouses and counters around the world. A single weapon to achieve the end for five centuries: the swollen look of sailboats. Those of the XXIe century are swollen by advertising, but the men and women are basically the same as the buyers of pepper and cloves: magnificent fugitives, princes and princesses of the draft in the service of a painful, most magnificent conquest for that of the useless, but in the consolation of voluntary solitude.

We have found an observation agent to tell the great south in which the head of the fleet will enter this weekend or Monday. This agent is New Zealander. He was born in Brittany and has the same weapons as those of the writer of Polish origin, of English language, who was a boy in Marseille at 17 and captain at 30 and whose name he bears: Conrad. Joseph Conrad for literature.

Read also The first lessons of the Vendée Globe, almost three weeks after the start

“An almost mythological world”

Conrad Colman, 36, was one of the most outstanding figures of the Vendée Globe 2016-2017. Unfortunately, he could not find sponsors in time to take part in this edition.

Conrad Colman could have written the following with a porcelain inkwell and on a sheet of white paper. Reading it, it almost looks like he experienced the magnesium flashes of the time of Joseph Conrad when he left for Borneo: “My father, who died when I was a child, gave me this name in tribute to Captain Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski,” said Joseph Conrad, an author who had deeply marked him “.

Cross Good Hope, and enter the forties, “It is to put in a feeling of stiffness”, writes Loïck Peyron. Conrad Colman, who has run around the world three times, sets the scene: “Here they are in front of the door that opens onto an unknown world. More prodigious, but also more worrying. Everyone will find their own truth, which the noise of communication will never be able to account for. Of course, everyone will film the swells, depressions, fronts, etc. “

But we only film the imprint we leave. However, it disappears in the wake. Only our inner imprint remains. But how to say it, tell it, film it? Asks the New Zealand sailor for whom ” the hardest ” is to translate the interiority of one who is at sea, “Alone with himself”.

For the latter, sailing in the great South would amount to dissolving “In the history of the maritime world, and here precisely”, he emphasizes, “In an almost mythological world”.

The Indian Ocean and the Pacific, “a reserve of monsters”

So here they are, the thirty-two still in the race, who will turn in the next few hours, the next days, around the “door” of Good Hope. The first hinge of the three doors: “For them the tour of the world truly begins in its disturbing and fascinating dimension. In this rotation, they will join the history of the discoverers, the European settlers who paved the way for capitalism, the market economy and the exploitation of land and people. They are the ones who opened this trade route. “

With the major difference, he said, “That the sailors of the Vendée Globe will be part of a voluntary servitude process”. And to continue, without forgetting to emphasize that today’s sailing was born in a commercial cradle: “Without our civilization of brands and advertising, we, they and they would not have embarked on this adventure which is also technological. “

Closing this parenthesis under the sign of advertising and return on investment, Colman is darker: “Here, too, gravity begins. The consequences of a damage are infinitely more serious, because to avoid a deterioration of the situation only the moral, intellectual and physical robustness of the individual can overcome the test. The sailor knows that he will leave no memory, no passage, no trace. And here more than elsewhere. The ephemeral is not filmed. Does not communicate. Or is written. “

Colman begins here the question of the distorting mirror in which the loner sees himself: “We fix ourselves on the screen, but we don’t fix anything, in fact. Quite simply because we cannot fix the history of these seas. We know their reputation. We read them. They are like children’s stories. The Indian and the Pacific are a reserve of monsters. It’s like telling a story about watches to children. The monster is under the bed. I look under the bed: it is there. I see him. I saw it. It is not a place for children. And although you will always find someone to say that everything is fine and say hello to the camera ”, he quips.

The great South, for Conrad Colman, is like stepping over “The monster bed”. Without ever touching it, “Lest he wake up”. Joseph Conrad, an adventurer “from within” and of the inner quest, would have greatly appreciated Conrad Colman, the man who completed the Vendée Globe 2016-2017 under makeshift rig.

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