Alexia Barrier: "My first Vendée Globe and the derby"
This is Partout Tojours that is always one that is quite out of the ordinary. Maybe because before a derby, we would like to touch on the surprising, the exciting, the adventure or even the incredible. This is an adventure, and Alexia Barrier will experience a fantastic one this Sunday, leaving the harbor of Sables-d’Olonne. This seasoned skipper, who has a very strong link with AS Monaco, will indeed set out for the most important race of her high-level sports career. Her first Vendée Globe, aboard the TSE – 4myplanet monohull. It’s a non-stop, unassisted round-the-world tour which she will kick off at the same time as the derby between OGC Nice and AS Monaco.
A three-month journey … with the AS Monaco jersey
But someone who started sailing at the age of three with her parents, before reach a high level in many sports (basketball, athletics, horse riding among others), knows for what colors she will sail on this Sunday, one that is a little special for her, but also for her native Côte d’Azur. It is thus with the Rouge et Blanc jersey on her shoulders, customized with her name, that this resident of Biot in the Alpes Maritimes, will set out on the most incredible challenge of her life. A three-month solo journey, which she dreams of completing without a hitch, like six of the seven women who have already tried it before her. Meet with sports enthusiast, in love with AS Monaco, who has dedicated her life to sailing and the planet, through her association founded ten years ago in the Principality. She’s a supporter of choice, who is setting out to attack the Everest of the seas.
🎥 Le Clin d’Oeil du jour : Aujourd’hui nous vous présentons une première série des 3 femmes #skippers engagées dans le @VendeeGlobe : @Alexia_Barrier / Alexia Sailing Team TSE/4myplanet, @samanthadavies @initiativecoeur, et @ClaSurLAtlantiq @VoileBanquePop⛵️ #vendee pic.twitter.com/ZvSWxFAYav
— Les Sables d'Olonne (@lessables) November 1, 2020
Hello Alexia. First of all, what is your connection with Monaco?
My 4myplanet association has been based in Monaco for 10 years and I grew up in Nice, although today I live near Antibes, in Biot. So I’m really from the region and I’ve always had a soft spot for AS Monaco.
Where does your attachment to AS Monaco come from, apart from the fact that your association is based there?
I’ve never been a fan of OGC Nice, that’s for sure. For me, AS Monaco is a club that responds to different challenges, financially, in terms of training and management. Football is a sport that inspires many children too. I find that this club conveys great values also at the youth level, from education to the principles embodied by the Academy, although it is not always easy. I also find that the attitude of the Monaco supporters is exemplary, just like their club and I find that quite brilliant, so that’s why I like to come and watch matches at the Stade Louis-II when I have the opportunity, outside the COVID period of course, to experience AS Monaco, which is my club, even when I am far away.
You were talking about training and the club’s work in educating young people, is that something that speaks to you?
Yes that is very important to me. I also know that the football school for the youngest is open to girls as well and I find that it shows an example of openness. It is important that there is diversity and that this principle is gradually integrated into training. But obviously fighting for the education of the youngest is one of the most important values in my eyes for a club.
Talking about the Stade Louis-II, do you have any particular memories in mind?
I don’t always remember the teams they played against when I go, but if I remember one thing is the fervor of AS Monaco supporters. Which is amazing, because the home stadium is not always full, but I find these supporters quite exemplary because they never give up. They are always there, and it’s not always easy as there are not necessarily many people in the stadium, but that’s what I remember most of all from AS Monaco games.
They are also historically very successful clubs at the national level and in the European Cups. Is this something that speaks to you as a top athlete?
I know the difficulty of being at the top level and especially of staying there. This is ultimately the hardest part, consistency at the highest level and it is even more difficult when you are on a team, because it depends a lot on the commitment, the motivation and the form of each other’s teammates. So it’s been a real challenge over the years and even decades to stay at a high level and I take my hat off to the teams that achieve it and to the coaches who make it possible. Because the players are often the ones who are in the spotlight, but there is also a staff and a coach behind them who work hard to make them perform well.
Which players have been your favorite from AS Monaco over the years?
Ludovic Giuly stands out, someone who was an exceptional player, and who marked the history of the club. More recently Kylian Mbappé too, who is a player with charisma. And looking back on the academy and the team’s young players, which helps them keep their feet on the ground and which is a good example for young people in sport and in society in general.
Now let’s talk about your plan to compete in the Vendée Globe. You are at the dawn of an extraordinary adventure …
From a young age I loved the sea. When I was ten years old, I saw the opening of the first Vendée Globe on television (in 1989) and I think I said to myself at that time: “One day it will be my turn to sail around the world alone” After that, I continued my studies by continuing to sail at a high level with a crew. And when I was 25 and I finished my studies, I found my first sponsor and I started solo offshore racing with a mini transatlantic, which left at the time from La Rochelle, arriving in Brazil. And since then I have never stopped, I have completed 17 transatlantic races. So in the continuity of my career as a high level athlete, I found it normal to enter the Vendée Globe.
More precisely, for you is this the culmination of your career, to participate in the equivalent of the “World Cup” of sailing?
Yes of course. It’s the toughest event in the world I think, across all sports combined, because it’s done alone, we are very involved and above all there is no assistance. When we go to the south of the Indian Ocean or the Pacific, there will be no help, as it is only the other competitors who could possibly help us. The emergency services can take a week to find us in that part of the world, if we ever have a problem.
So we can only count on ourselves or our own competitors. This is also very specific to sailing, it is the solidarity of “seafarers”. But for me it’s not an end in itself, it’s a first Vendée Globe for me and I hope, I’m even certain that there will be a second to come in 2024 with a better boat. I’m working to try to grab a place on the podium. But before we can talk about that, though, one running Vendée Globe must first of all be able to finish it, because statistically there more than 50% of the boats do not cross the finish line due to accidents or otherwise, so it’s going to be one thing after the other.
[@Alexia_Barrier et l’avitaillement🥣]C'est le premier Vendée Globe pour Alexia et cela implique une grande organisation, notamment pour la nouriture. Comme elle, chaque skipper a choisi d’embarquer une diversité de plats adaptée à ses besoins nutritionnels et à ses objectifs. pic.twitter.com/UwDxQNTJkr
— Vendée Globe (@VendeeGlobe) November 5, 2020
Is that something that scares you?
No that doesn’t scare me, I know it is going to be hard if not very hard and I am not the type to worry in advance. There will be good time to freak out in the face of the raging elements and when I have a lot of problems to deal with (smiles). So for now I’m more focused on preparing for the race and getting to the start this Sunday. Because we will be 33 boats at the starting line, so we must avoid hindering a competitor from the start (smiles). It’s important to be able to finish, because it’s not always easy to maneuver these big, powerful boats on your own. You have to stay clear-headed and mindful and fear can keep us from staying that way, so avoid getting to that feeling.
How do you deal with physical fatigue on a three-month journey?
In fact, I take micro-naps between eight and twenty minutes at a rate of four to six hours a day for every 24 hours and at least once for a full hour every 24 hours to allow my brain to go through a full cycle of sleep. Sometimes when there is less traffic on the water and the weather conditions are stable, I can get a little more sleep. It’s sure that after a game we’re happy to come home, take a shower and eat a nice hot meal. That’s obviously not going to be my case at all.
Is it an additional pride for you to enter this edition of Vendée Globe as a woman, in the tradition of great sailors, and especially with your group?
Yes, of course. My boat is called TSE – 4myplanet. TSE is a Sophia-Antipolis company that works on green energy and produces electricity through solar panels. It totally aligns with the values of my group 4myplanet, that I created to fight for the preservation of the oceans, the protection of the environment, and also to take actions in education. It is therefore very nice to be able to display these colors on my boat to participate in this legendary race, the Vendée Globe.
Then I am very proud to be one of the skippers who are at the start of this race, because being able to be at the start is already a challenge. It should be noted that there are less than a hundred people who have managed to complete the race since its inception thirty years ago. But it’s proud to say that six of the seven women who have started have finished the race. And this year there are six of us at the start of this 2020 edition, so we might double the number of female finishers in one go. And why not even see one of us on the top step of the podium, I hope that those who have a better boat than me, can allow the women shine in this ocean race.
#VG2020 À 40 ans, @Alexia_Barrier se lance dans son premier @VendeeGlobe à bord du plus vieux bateau de la flotte. Portrait ➡️ https://t.co/iSKcECMN1V#VendeeGlobe @ImocaGS @VilleDesSables pic.twitter.com/xyoHGi2qOi
— Département Vendée (@DepVendee) October 25, 2020
This weekend is one that will see your departure, but it is also the derby between Nice and Monaco. What does this mean to you?
The derby will start at the same time as the most important race of my life, so I can say that I will have a special thought for AS Monaco. I hope we can all fight, me like a lioness and the players like lions. I really wish them success after this special game. Too, I don’t wanna be mean but I’ve never seen OGC Nice as an exemplary and “sexy” team so I don’t even want to compare them to AS Monaco.
Are you going to wear the club’s colors during your trip?
Of course, I have the jersey with me, and I have the supporters card which is in my card holder in the boat. I am wholeheartedly with AS Monaco, and I hope that we will each achieve our goals. For me, it will be to make a good start and finish the race, and for the Red and Whites to win this derby that’s so important to them.
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