Interview with Roger Langevin


Photo by Billy Black

by Jill Southwood

Roger Langevin left Le Havre, France for Plymouth, England for his second OSTAR race in Branec IV.

His crossing of the English Channel was fair with a brief stop at Cherbourg to check the ‘solent’ (genoa).  One man, one boat, no sponsors – TOUT SEUL  (all alone).  He is a calm and gentle man on the outside but with a steely determination on the inside and totally focused on achieving his goal.  His aim;  to be the first boat across the line in Newport, R.I., and the fastest trimaran in the OSTAR 2013. His preparation is always meticulous. Fail to prepare then prepare to fail.

Roger has already raced over 100,000 miles singlehanded – equivalent to approximately four times around the world.

Branec IV is almost as wide as it is long, 40ft x 50ft so no available marina berth for her in Queen Anne’s Battery but Roger was happy to be away from the melée and razamatazz on a safe mooring just off shore.

A great start over the line in difficult conditions.  Just what Roger expected. “I like the Atlantic crossing, a Force 6/7 on the nose is normal for the North Atlantic”.  Only after 24hours was he able to prepare something to eat, the sea was too rough and it was impossible to sleep. Fresh food to start with which would last about one week.  The oranges last a bit longer then it is on to tinned food – tuna, rice, sometimes spaghetti, preparing enough at a time to last for three meals.

Two ferocious storms hit Branec IV, huge waves crashed over the boat filling the cockpit and down below with sea water and spray.  As the second storm with winds of 55 knots finally abated – Roger felt a huge sense of relief in a very safe and well prepared boat.  His fastest speed recorded was 22 knots off Newfoundland, he had headed north hoping for north easterly winds of 30 – 35 knots – instead the wind veered round to southwest and almost stopped Branec IV dead in its tracks.  Becalmed off Nova Scotia felt worse than a force 7 and it wouldn’t let him go. The conditions were miserable, morale was very low.

Then along came tropical storm “Andrea”, another force 7. Just another normal north Atlantic storm for Roger.  He could only use the small trinquette  sail, the genoa was ripped, the gennaker halyard snapped, autopilot No.1 and the VHF antennae were not working.  Sleep deprivation endless.  If he was lucky, perhaps 20 minutes, setting the alarm which forced him to get up to turn off.

As Roger said “ I love the sea, the supreme challenge, the wildness of it all and I may well come back for the next OSTAR – I’m thinking about it as I carry out repairs for my journey back to Le Havre!  This was  a fairly typical OSTAR with dreadful weather and ferocious headwinds making it a constant battle!”

Ca va tres bien!  Sinon la vie est belle! (How wonderful life is!).  Roger broke his own transatlantic record by 17 minutes!