Travel, Share, Preserve

3 Local children

3 exceptional sailors

Yannick Bestaven, Arnaud Boissières and Philippe Presti have left their mark on the Thiers jetty. Interview with three “local kids” deeply attached to the Arcachon Basin.

A few key events in your career?

Y.B: First of all, the Mini Transat double-handed race with Arnaud Boissières. Yves Parlier gave us a taste for ocean racing and encouraged us to build our own boats. My 1st Vendée Globe, in 2008: I dismasted, which could have been the end of my career. My victories in the Transat Jacques-Vabre in 2011 and 2015 got me back into racing.

A.B: When I was young, the restaurateur at Café Thiers let me skipper his catamaran, with which I took part in my first transatlantic races. His confidence in me was crucial for the rest of my career. Our Mini Transat with Yannick Bestaven got us started, thanks to the support of Yves Parlier. Arcachon is a “nursery”, and there’s a real sense of solidarity between the generations of sailors. My participation in the Solitaire du Figaro marks my entry into ocean racing.

P.P: I learned to sail with my family on Lac de Cazaux. But I started competing late, with a selection for the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, and two Finn world championship titles. In 2003, I was skipper of the French Challenge for the America’s Cup. Seven years later, I became coach of Oracle Team USA, with whom we won the America’s Cup for the 1st time in Valencia.

You've put down your "sea legs" in Arcachon. What does it mean to you?

Y.B.: An honor that allows me to put one foot back on the Basin: it’s a step towards my return!

A.B.: I’ve got a “little” sea legs*, but the significance of the event is great! It’s a chance for friends to get to know each other, and it’s moving, even impressive, to be alongside such absolute masters as Titouan Lamazou.

P.P.: I was touched by this recognition, received in the midst of those I love, in the same way as my friends with whom I grew up and sailed.

An associated memory?

Y.B.: A carefree adolescence: August 15th regattas in pinassotes to Île aux Oiseaux, where we’d play rugby. And snowboarding down the Dune du Pilat in winter…

A.B.: When I was 10-11 years old, we used to spend several days on the family sailboat. It was the “Bassin version” of camping, with picnics, fishing and salty skin… What freedom!

P.P.: I have a special relationship with the Bassin, its wild nature, its forests, its lakes like the one at Cazaux where I spent my vacations as a child. I still feel at home there.

Your greatest achievement?

Y.B.: My 2 daughters!

A.B.: Being alone at sea for a long time allows you to think about what’s most important. So I’d say my children, who were there when I arrived at the last Vendée Globe: an intense moment.

P.P.: The 2013 America’s Cup. At the time, I was coach of Oracle Team USA: after a week of racing, we were 8-0 down… Yet we managed to find the resources to progress, to pull together. We ended up beating Team New Zealand 9-8! That taught me a lot.

What do you like best about the Basin?

Y.B.: I’m a child of the Basin, having grown up in Biganos. I explored every nook and cranny of the Leyre by canoe. I was a windsurfing instructor. I still have family ties here. I dream of coming back!

A.B.: The family home in Pereire, a haven of peace in the off-season.

P.P.: It’s my roots, and I’m very attached to the place. Sometimes I go away with my family on 3 or 4-year campaigns. It’s our place of return: it stabilizes the children before they set sail for other adventures.

Your dream?

Y.B.: I’ve achieved a lot, like winning the Vendée Globe. Even if it’s ambitious, I’d like to go back and… win again? Why not!

A.B.: To do a 5th Vendée Globe with my current boat (IMOCA La Mie Câline- Artisans artipôle).

P.P.: To lift the America’s Cup trophy again, with a new team.

If you hadn't been a navigator?

Y.B.: When I was a kid, I wanted to be an oceanographer.

A.B.: I would have been… a sailor!

P.P.: I was going to be a teacher, but I would have loved to have worked in music. You can’t do everything!