It has just gone 5:30 pm in Guadeloupe when the Saint-François marina fills with the sound of “Veridis Quo” by Daft Punk, the favorite band of the Mini Transat’s youngest competitor, Basile Bourgnon. As the Edenred Mini moors to the pontoon, it is welcomed by applause from the crowd of Mini competitors’ families and friends, who have come to congratulate “the little one.” With 16 days of transatlantic travel visible on his face, but his eyes sparkling, Basile smiles like a child as he hugs his mother, Caroline. The pride, relief and pure happiness in the air mix with the trade winds still bringing the other competitors closer to the finish line.
He’s done it! The Edenred skipper has completed his first Mini Transat – and first solo Atlantic crossing – 34 years after his father Laurent, and almost exactly two years after finishing the Transat Jacques Vabre on the Edenred Class40 with Emmanuel Le Roch.
Bertrand Dumazy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Edenred, said: “Edenred is proud of Basile’s achievements in this Mini Transat. Our Edenred skipper gave it his all right up to the finish line to take seventh place after making a fantastic comeback and gaining over 40 spots. At just 19 years old, he has completed his first solo Atlantic crossing. This great performance is the result of several months of preparation and will be a key asset for the next stage of his promising career, which will see him onboard the Edenred Figaro 3 in a few weeks. Congratulations to Basile, an excellent example of maturity, boldness and determination for the 10,000 Edenred employees who have supported him throughout the race.”
Here’s what the Edenred Mini skipper Basile Bourgnon had to say
Emotion and pride at the finish line
“It’s incredible to receive such a welcome at the finish line and I’m glad I made a comeback from the first leg to experience this today. I’m happy with where I placed in Saint-François given the weather conditions we had because, to be honest, I’m more comfortable in rough seas.”
A mentally challenging race
“The race was mentally challenging, because you get the rankings and you see them changing without knowing where everyone else is. Sometimes you’re at your lowest point because you feel like you’re stuck, like you’re pulling off seaweed every ten seconds, or like you’re falling behind in the rankings. Then the next day, you realize that you’ve made progress and it’s an incredible feeling. It’s not easy to find the right balance. My mood was maybe a bit all over the place at the start of the leg, but by the end I realized I had to stay as calm as possible.”
The solo life
“I loved the solo life because you only have yourself to blame – and to congratulate too! I learned things about myself and about racing. I realized you have to put in a bit more at night to get ahead of the others, for example. I managed my sleep well because I feel in pretty good shape here at the finish line, even though I’ve been living on rations for four days – I only had enough food left for one meal a day.”
South, a worthwhile detour
“At first I headed west and soon realized it wasn’t the right move, so I went south and saw my rank plummet. And then finally, a few days later, I caught up with the leading group again and from then on, I hung on like crazy. I gained more than 40 places; it was an amazing comeback! It was great to finish in regatta style: there were ten of us watching each other on the AIS [Automatic Identification System]. I felt like I was in the Mini en May race! We jibed, explored some options and, in the end, I did well compared to the others, so I’m really happy! This transatlantic race is a must. You’ve got to do it, even though it’s tough. But it’s a huge learning experience and it’ll be great going forward in the Figaro.”