What they said on the dock and in their press conference
It was just at sunset, in the end, when Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam broke the finish line off Barcelona's iconic W-Hotel to complete their victory in the Barcelona World Race. They punched the air with delight as the gun sounded after 84 days and 5 hours of racing, a joyous release of elation and relief. Within seconds they had their technical team and family aboard on board Cheminées Poujoulat to share the moments.
Both Stamm and Le Cam have endured more than enough of their own histories of disappointments racing round the world to ensure that those seconds after the gun meant so much more.
Stamm was disqualified from the last Vendée Globe for inadvertently receiving outside assistance and in four campaigns has yet to be placed in the pinnacle solo round the world race.
Le Cam once had to abandon the Vendée Globe, in 2008, when his boat capsized off Cape Horn. He also had to retire from the last edition of this race in 2011 when the mast of President, the IMOCA 60 he raced with Bruno Garcia, crashed down just north of the Cape Verde islands. So their success together was as much cathartic as it was a time for celebration.
So, when asked when he was really sure they would win this Barcelona World Race, despite a lead of nearly 1000 miles since before Cape Horn, Stamm admitted:
" When we crossed the finish line, we knew then that we could win."
And, following his short, curtailed experience of the 2010-2011 race, Jean Le Cam was asked if ever he had specific worries about the mast of Cheminées Poujoulat coming down during the race. He responded immediately:
"No. Not at one point.......... Only all the time. All the time. It is always with you. It is the most visible and important thing you can see. And when it has happened to you before, it is always in your mind."
On the dock, below the statue of Christopher Columbus on Barcelona's Portal de la Pau, they were quizzed for their first reactions:
What does it represent a victory in the Barcelona World Race?
Bernard Stamm: We are always happy and now we are happy because there is a victory after a great adventure ...
Jean Le Cam: When we win, we can only be happy. We left Barcelona, ??it was a circumnavigation and we returned to Barcelona, ??it's as simple as that.
What are your first feelings?
Bernard Stamm: First and foremost there is a great satisfaction. It all worked well, we managed to overcome all our technical problems and we can say that we have had enough of them.
Jean Le Cam: Certainly. I think that alone, we would not have finished the race. Fortunately Bernard knows well how to climb the mast.
Bernard Stamm: It's a team effort. The guy who's on the deck has to work as well, he has to grind to hoist the one who will work up there. We had lots of problems but together we were able to find solutions. That is what is different from being two soloists on the same boat.
Bernard Stamm: For three months you share your race with someone else. When we had a technical problem, we were both thinking, we exchanged ideas. And all the time you are keeping the boat moving.
Jean Le Cam: And we had plenty of worries. We went half way around the world with a wind vane cobbled together on a little mast on the back of the boat, which we changed depending on what tack we were on. We finally got one to the top of the mast as you will see there is an external cable running up to it.
Bernard Stamm: We had also had lock worries on the mainsail. I can say that when we successfully repaired them, it was a moment of true happiness.
In the press conference:
What were the shared moments of happiness?
Jean Le Cam: Inevitably, when we get to find solutions together, then you share that happiness together. We can't forget that we had a really windy south, it was a year to remember.
Bernard Stamm: And then there is also the pleasure of making a good move or two.
North of Canaries before reaching a Gibraltar that will be remembered. At first you are so focused and busy, but then like then you see the results and enjoy it.
Jean Le Cam: That's it. Two up you can really share, it is a really rich experience.
Their relationship? Arguments?
Bernard Stamm: " If we had any problems with each other it was because we were tired or stressed or both, it was a reflex reaction and these just come and then they are gone as quickly as they came. We generally got on very well. We just focussed on making the boat go well, and as that is a difficult boat to handle, we just basically did not ever have any time to do anything but work on the boat, there was no time for arguments."
Jean Le Cam; "We are still together. It is not La Vie en Rose. It is like being a couple. We each have carry our own cross. It is not easy for us. You just have to concede things to each other and get on with it, get through each day.
Bernard Stamm: " I have wanted to participate in the Barcelona World Race since the first edition but have not been able to, so to be able to compete this time, and to win it, is a great reward. I have had a lot of adventures, bad experiences on races, but I have had some great victories too. I have only ever won races which are round the world races.
Jean Le Cam: We always watched all the others, it is always interesting to watch what they are doing, and especially Bruno Garcia who I did the last race with, to see how they were doing. You have an interest in everyone, it is part of the daily life.
Skills, how they worked the boat
Bernard Stamm: " You have different skills. We covered everything together. I looked after the computer side of things and Jean did more of the techncial stuff on deck. We never, ever defined our roles as such. "