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Quentin Vlamynck is on a journey he began ten years ago as part of the Lalou Roucayrol team in the Médoc region of France. With a solid technical background, the young 29-year old sailor is about to enter the big league. He is now the skipper of Arkema 4, one of the newest Ocean Fifty boats.

With great conviction, and following thorough preparation - at the boat yard as well as on the many bodies of water he has sailed on this year as part of the Pro Sailing Tour -, Quentin is now about to throw himself in at the deep end of ocean racing in the Transat Jacques Vabre – Normandy – Le Havre race.

And to help him competently handle this latest stage of his fledgling career, he can count on Lalou Roucayrol, one of the most experienced sailors aboard these 50 ft multihulls. Together they form a strong pair, an uncommon pair that mingles youth and wisdom, the culmination of a ten-year relationship based on learning and transmission.

Quentin gives us his thoughts as he is about to make his way to Le Havre...

What does the Transat Jacques Vabre mean to you?

First of all, it's my 4th ocean crossing and my 3rd in a race after two Mini-Transats. My first memories of the Transat Jacques Vabre go back to 2013; I was there at the start as a preparer. This year, I find myself on the other side, at the front of the stage.

I'm really looking forward to joining the competition, especially since throughout the season, we were lucky to cover plenty of miles on board Arkema 4, in races and in ferrying. We know the boat well, and also our competitors. The competition is sure to be tough, any of the boats could win! The standard is high, and the challenge will be not to be left behind from the start. And to give nothing away right to the finish.

What has been your journey to get here?

I joined the team of Lalou and Fabienne Roucayrol when I was 19, a team that is genuinely committed to passing on knowledge and expertise.

For my part, I was involved in the Mini 6.50 and the multihull. This Ocean Fifty is the third boat bearing the Arkema colors that I will be competing with. In 10 years, I have learnt the various trades: builder, preparer, boat captain, and skipper. A truly comprehensive training! My background is not the same as that of the other skippers in this Class; my approach is cautious, responsible and level-headed all at the same time, with a desire to take it step by step, without getting ahead of myself.

What does this new role within the team consist of and how did you prepare for it?

Today, I have to focus on the navigation part, handling and steering the boat to get it to make the fastest possible headway. I can focus on this entirely as I am lucky to have excellent support.

Since I joined Lalou Multi in the Ocean Fifty projects, I have been working with a coach who helps me mentally so I can assume a leader’s approach. On a more sporting level, it also helps me feel at ease on board the boat (which is always very stressful), to relieve my brain whenever necessary. It is also teaching me to be more confident and to dare, for example, to wake up my boss, who has been resting for two hours, so that he can take over from me and get a good soaking on the deck!

What are you looking forward to in this Transat Jacques Vabre?

I am taking this two-handed race as a ‘learning ground’ in competition mode. I have yet to sail more than six days in a row aboard an Ocean Fifty. Alongside Lalou, I will be reaching a new milestone and take my preparation one step further for next year, with the Route du Rhum solo race.

Both of us will also be aiming for a good result. And we hold all the cards to deliver a great performance, if not a victory. It would also be a big reward for the whole team who have built and optimized this boat ceaselessly.

What is your strength to be able to achieve these goals?

The two of us together! Lalou and I know each other inside out.

After ten years, we are really beginning to sail in the same way, even though he tends to operate much more by intuition based on the conditions. For me, I remain more focused on the computer, routing, and weather.

Working as a pair works well. And above all, we are happy to share this experience, even though in actual fact, we will only cross paths every two hours!

One specific feature of Arkema 4 is that it has been built with less polluting materials; does this matter to you?

Yes, it does. Lalou is a materials specialist, and to date, we have managed to build, among other boats, a Mini 6.50 with a recyclable resin that has already crossed the Atlantic three times, as well as some parts of the current trimaran that withstand the stress well.

It's now up to me to win races and show, with Arkema 4, that these new materials contribute to performance. It's a challenge within a challenge!


Arkema 4 sailing

Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 timeline and stats

  • Quentin Vlamynck and Lalou Roucayrol are setting sail on Monday 25 October on board Arkema 4 to head for Le Havre, where they are expected at the sluice gates at midday Wednesday 27 October.
  • Departure of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021: Sunday 7 November.
  • 86 boats registered for the start split into 4 categories (Ocean Fifty, Ultim, IMOCA, Class40).
  • 7 crews entered in the Ocean Fifty category on a 5,800-mile (10,742 km) course between Le Havre and Fort-de-France (Martinique), passing the Fernando de Noronha Brazilian archipelago on the starboard side.

The whole Arkema Sailing team wishes fair winds to all participants!