Jean Le Cam completes his solo transat in 32nd and brings the Retour à La Base to an end
The skipper of Tout commence en Finistère – Armor Lux crossed the finish line on Monday at 21:37:24hrs UTC. His elapsed time since the race’s start is 18d 05h 37min 24s. His Retour à la Base race was far from an easy crossing , but Le Cam, the final competitor to finish (32nd), remained determined, living up to his reputation, and in so doing, takes a huge step forward in his qualification for the Vendée Globe.
Jean Le Cam completed his adventure in the middle of the night, which is bound to have brought the memories flooding back. Almost three years ago on Friday 29th January 2021, the Breton skipper completed his fourth Vendée Globe during the night. Le Cam’s round the world race was much more than a simple race for him, as during that event, he saved Kévin Escoffier, and his humour remained one of the highlights of the race. Le Cam came up with some memorable lines, and everyone ashore could see how much he enjoyed being at sea and the pleasures of life ashore. “I made it easy for the bastard, who could have been there in my place,” he said talking about his fourth place in the Vendée Globe at a very relaxed press conference. The skipper wore a crown, evoking his nickname King Jean, danced around the stage in front of journalists, who had come from all over France to see him. The party continued into the early morning…
A race against the clock with his new boat
Three years later and now aged 64, the King is back. There my be fewer interviews and the media interest may have waned, with Le Cam becoming citizen Jean, allowing his to enjoy his daily life – giving it his all working on a boat, spending days on end in the yard doing all he could to get back out there again. The countdown did not leave him much time. In late September, he launched ‘Tout commence en Finistère – Armor Lux,’ a scow designed by David Raison, a new generation IMOCA with daggerboards.
“It’s just a matter of time,” admitted Jean. He decided not to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre and to carry out the delivery trip to Martinique with Bernard Stamm, who has long been at his side. After a brief halt in La Coruna to avoid a low-pressure system, the pair reached Le Marin on 2nd November. It was three days earlier that the rest of the fleet had begun the Retour à La Base, but Jean preferred to remain focused on his project, and declared he was pleased “to have done exactly what they had wanted to do,” before adding, “We’ll be setting off again to write a new chapter.”
A particularly rough transatlantic crossing
It was on 6th December that he finally set sail leaving the warmth of Martinique behind to begin his Retour à la Base. At that time, the fleet leaders, were passing the Azores and victory would go to Yoann Richomme just three days later. Le Cam would have a completely different race from the others with very different weather patterns. He would face a lot of upwind sailing on heavy seas to start, many days with winds in excess of 25 knots, a high-pressure system that he had to sail around and a tropical low had to be dealt with too. As he approached the first gate near the Azores, he talked about “wind shifts of forty degrees,” and “a night when I didn’t get much sleep.” The wind remained strong, requiring vigilance at all times and it was a bumpy ride, where the skipper had to hold on tight throughout.
Last Saturday, looking particularly tired, he spoke of thirty knot winds and a low-pressure system coming up. “The idea is not to sail quickly, but look after the boat,” he explained in a video. That did not stop him from offering himself a feast, a well-balanced diet, as he referred to it: tuna, rice, mayonnaise. Something sustaining... Le Cam returned to his native Brittany on Monday evening, bringing his adventure to an end. The skipper got to know his boat a bit more and at the same time, moved forward towards his sixth Vendée Globe. For the general public, Jean will once again become the “Le Cam” they all know and love – a heady cocktail of self-derision, spontaneity and his own special idea of what life should be like for someone in their sixties.
Finish time: 21:37:24 UTC
Race time: 18j 05h 37min 24s (elapsed since race start)
Miles sailed: 3 497.42 nm / 7.99kts
Real average speed: 4 092.07 nm / 9.35 kt
Delta to 31st place: 4d 10h 12min 33s