Looking to really find her feet solo on the new IMOCA which she first sailed only in mid-July this year, Clarisse Crémer made a really good start to the Retour à La Base but was then slowed down by small technical problems which required attention, sapping her energy and ultimately seeing her moderate her attack to be more sure of finishing the Transatlantic course.

But this Monday evening at 20:33hrs UTC, visibly shattered but happy, she brought her race to a satisfying conclusion, finishing in 12th place on the Verdier design which was formerly Charlie Dalin’s APIVIA.

Her race from Martinique to Lorient took her 11 days, 4 hours 29 minutes. She finished 2d 04h 29min 36s after race winner Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) and 06h 52min 10s after 11th placed Pip Hare (Medallia)

After having her previous project halted by its sponsors because they felt that her time off on a maternity break had compromised her chances of qualifying for her second Vendée Globe, Crémer’s challenge was resuscitated by British based Alex Thomson Racing who organised the purchase of Dalin’s former IMOCA and brought in L’Occitane as sponsors.

But this in turn has meant she and the ATR team have been up against the clock all season and this race, as a key solo qualifying event, was one Crémer really had to start and to finish.

Before the start of the Retour à La Base, on the pontoons of Fort-de-France Clarisse Crémer admitted to having “a little apprehension”. Considering she had not sailed solo for more than two years since her 2020-2021 Vendée Globe that admission in itself was no surprise. And, she reminded herself, starting over again on the North Atlantic in the middle of December “is still a big deal”.

But the challenge was even more demanding on the highly optimised IMOCA which Dalin crossed first across the finish of the last Vendée Globe. “Even though I am a competitor, I approach the race in a fairly safe way,” explained the 33-year-old skipper.

At the end of a controlled rounding of Martinique, Crémer was on the threshold of the Top 5 on the long close-hauled leg, heading north as the boat was very much in one of its performance sweet spots. But before long a reefing line breaks, and she has to spend time repairing, and there was more:  
Wait a minute ! The boat hasn’t finished with the little surprises, my front compartment is filled with water after a ballast malfunction…” she writes in her own unique humorous tone. But she fights on in the top 10.

But all the mishaps weigh on her and, like others, she struggled to find proper recuperative rest. “I don’t sleep because I find myself too slow. I'm really going to have to learn to let go! », writes the sailor who is not used to compromises in performance. Tired, exhausted from efforts, at one time even the victim of hallucinations, she retrenches and moderates her attack completely to just get finished.

But in the swells of the North Atlantic, going slow is not necessarily the easiest thing to do! So Crémer tries as best she can to manage her boat between the surging acceleration and the sudden stops in the next wave...

A few days before the finish, J2 problems once again slowed here as did a UFO stuck to her keel for several hours. But Cremer hangs in there, looking to finish at all costs. A few hours before the finish, she's still having fun: “I think you can see by my face that I'm completely done in and have blown it. By wanting to play it “safe”, "I didn’t always make the right choices in the end.”

By finishing her race in 12th position, Clarisse Crémer takes a further step towards the 2024 Vendée Globe and has good reasons to anticipate next season.


I feel more like I’ve done 12 transatlantic races in one! There wasn't a moment when everything wasn't at full tilt. I made a lot of stupid mistakes that made me drop back from one group to another, that was a bit annoying. There were times when I deliberately dropped back to the next pack to make it “safe” because I really had to finish. But overall, I learned a lot of things! When you haven't sailed solo for three years, inevitably it’s all a little difficult. The first days, I was fragile, I hurt everywhere, it took me a while to get into the swing of things physically. The boat is tough in certain aspects: I think Charlie (Dalin) is a tough guy and we are not really the same size. For me, the sequence from the Transat Jacques Vabre to this race was the best possible: you do a double-handed race, you are tired but you stay in race mode for solo racing. On the other hand, I didn't necessarily have a lot of fun during this race. There was the stress about maybe not finishing the race, it took me a while to be able sleep and the conditions were super intense. Me and the boat kind of went head to head, we made some impressive plantings... It wasn't fun but there were some great moments!"

Her race in figures
Finished 11/12/2023 20:33:24 TU
Race time: 11d 04h 33min 24s
Gap to first: 2d 04h 29min 36s
Difference from previous: 06h 52min 10s
Theoretical average speed 3,497.42 nm / 13.02 kts
Really sailed 4,507.05 nm / 16.78 kts