Mission accomplished for Pierre Delacoux. The Sablais (Vendée) crossed the English Channel on a paddle and exploded the counters by beating the world record.
It was only a few days before the start, on May 14, that the young resident of Sables-d’Olonne decided to try to go below the eight-hour mark, the threshold of the previous record.
Suffice to say that all expectations were exceeded and the efforts made during a year of preparation were rewarded. “I benefited from exceptional weather conditions,” admits the young athlete.
« A sea of oil, of the sun. We would have thought we were in the Mediterranean! I had never considered such a scenario. In my dreams, it wasn’t going so well. »
And yet, until the start of the event, there was no indication of such an alignment of the planets.
When Pierre and his team pick up the boat in Belgium that was to escort the athlete during his journey, the weather conditions already require a change of plan.
The departure will not be from France, but from England. From Dover, Pierre, therefore, had to go to Wissant, in Pas-de-Calais, the originally planned starting point. “The weather was very changeable. The announced conditions changed every six hours. I was always stressed. A stress fueled by the administrative hassle imposed by the British immigration services when the team arrived in Dover.
Arrives on the 14th, the day of departure.
At 5.10 a.m., the Sablais was released 800 m from the beach, escorted by the sailboat led by his group of friends. Refueling every 45 minutes.
“There was a lot of current at the start and I had trouble keeping my course. But Pierre quickly finds his bearings, imposes a routine on himself to paddle efficiently while watching his compass.
After a complicated first half-hour, he finds his rhythm and the weather conditions change completely. Sun, sea of oil. The rhythm found, the Sablais traces towards the French coasts. Halfway, he even has the luxury of a slight detour to get a closer look at a group of dolphins. “A magical moment! A few seals also witnessed the remarkable advance of the Sablais.
Pierre on his paddle, his friends on the sailboat: everyone experiences a moment of grace, fully focused on the journey. Maritime traffic is not a problem, the group takes care to follow the routes taken by the ferries.
The end of the journey will be more complicated.
I gave everything. But, while I was expecting endurance, I put in an explosive effort on this trip. Muscularly, it became painful, especially on the last fifteen kilometers.
Pierre will fall three times from his paddle, without consequence.
The last 300 meters were the hardest. “I scared myself, the current was so huge. “Change of plan: for safety, the arrival was not on the sand of Wissant, but further south, among the rocks at the foot of the cliff of Cap Gris Nez. To the applause of walkers at the top of the cliff!
It was huge. I shed my tears on the rocks. All this stress, these efforts, this fear, and then this arrival! I will remember it all my life!