The race seems to have already started for Justine Mettraux. The idea had germinated in her mind when she took part in a crewed round the world race between 2014 and 2015: to take part in the Vendée Globe. She did not manage to raise the necessary sum to participate in the race which is about to end, but next time, the Genevoise intends to appear on the starting line at Sables-d’Olonne in 2024. ” Closing budgets and obtaining all the funding remains one of the greatest difficulties to have a boat and participate in this race, ”admits the sailor.
After setting a record on the tour of the British Isles with the Swiss Valentin Gautier and Simon Koster, the 34-year-old skipper joined the project “11 hour races” at the beginning of the year. She will sail with the Englishman Simon Fisher on the former Imoca Hugo Boss that the British skipper Alex Thomson took in his Vendée Globe 2016-2017. His goal? Learn about these Formula 1s in 60-foot (18.28-meter) seas and gradually acquire enough experience to navigate these boats alone.
Trained at Imoca
On the phone, the sailor is enthusiastic: “In this sport, we never stop improving.” She had her first experiences in Imoca with the Franco-German skipper Isabelle Joschke before she left for the last edition of the Vendée Globe. In October 2020, during a transatlantic between Newport and Concarneau, aboard the 11th Hour Racing, the Genevoise showed what she was capable of. “The crossing served as a selection. It went well. I was then offered to join the team. “
From then on, his year 2021 is settled like music paper. While seeking funding for the Vendée Globe, her regatta season will begin with The Ocean Race Europe, a four-week tour along the continent and end with the Transat Jacques Vabre, in October. “From the outside, you don’t realize that the job of a sailor is not just about sailing. You have to be technically good, mentally and physically prepared and above all to do the representation work for the public and the sponsors. ”
A model for the following
One of the rare women in the male world of the sea, Justine Mettraux has never ceased, since her beginnings, to have to justify her presence among the sailors. But for her today, nothing more has to be proven. Often at the top of the women’s rankings and the holder of an experience that commands respect, she explains: “It’s important that young sailors can project themselves into the future and see that a woman does what they want to do. ” Does she feel ready to face the loneliness of the Vendée Globe? “Yes, I have no problem being alone.”
If the Swiss woman has lived in Lorient, in Brittany, since 2011, it is precisely to prepare for solo sailing. The results were not long in coming. In 2013, the sailor finished second in the Mini Transat, establishing the best female performance in this race across the Atlantic. In 2017, she took the start of the Solo Urgo-Le Figaro, also called “La Solitaire”, a race known to be particularly demanding on 10-meter sailboats, and finished 7th.
To get ready for the race known as the Everest of the Seas in 2024, the skipper is dedicating the next four years to taming the Imoca. Justine Mettraux likes to take the steps naturally. She is delighted: “In a crew, the human aspect dominates. Solo, it’s versatility. Being able to progress on these boats is a great opportunity. ”