Jean Luc Van den Heede found it difficult to hide his emotion, as he brought Adrien alongside the Vendée Globe landing stage in Les Sables d'Olonne yesterday afternoon
Jean Luc Van den Heede found it difficult to hide his emotion, as he brought Adrien alongside the Vendée Globe landing stage in Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday afternoon.
In Les Sables d’Olonne, the naval tradition grows ever stronger. In the hearts of the local people, the four Vendée Globe events clearly set a precedent in terms of the enthusiasm and admiration they feel for yachtsmen. Jean Luc Van den Heede is now one of them. By smashing Philippe Monnet’s record by 29 days, VDH entered marine legend last Tuesday. The welcome that was given to him was that much more heartfelt, as a few years back the sailor from Amiens made Les Sables his home port.
Among the crowds that had gathered on the landing stages, his loyal partners waited with pride and eagerness. It must have taken a lot of courage and solid commitment for Jean Luc to set out on four occasions to attempt this challenge, and his three sponsors also showed unwavering trust, loyalty and support through all those years. It was also a moving occasion for Michel Adrien, a stalwart supporter and former sailor himself. He could easily imagine the difficulties Jean-Luc must have encountered in order to achieve his performance: “If a record was well deserved, it was this one,” was the essence of what he said, while breathing a sigh of relief. Alcan was pleased that Jean-Luc’s boat had benefited from the latest Alcan/Pechiney aluminium technology. Its lightweight and resistant qualities allowed him to face the extreme conditions in the westbound circumnavigation.
The aluminium monohull had to be modified year after year to be up to the Global Challenge. As for his partners, they too evolved over the years. Thus, Pechiney became Alcan, the world leader in the manufacture and technological development of aluminium for marine use, and Adrien is nowadays called Michel Adrien, after the founder of the Group, who set off himself back in 1956 from Les Sables d’Olonne, at the helm of his fishing boat to head for Africa.
Gilles de Robien offered his warm thanks to Jean Luc Van den Heede for having raised so high and spread so far the colours of the Amiens metropolitan authority, and announced that he was pleased to be present for his arrival back in Les Sables. In the name of all the inhabitants of the 27 councils within the metropolitan area, monsieur Gilles de Robien and all the councillors of the Greater Amiens area sent Jean Luc Van den Heede their most sincere congratulations and admiration.