Montag, 25.01.2021 23:09 Uhr

Finnair skipper chews Reindeer at bottom of the world

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Les Sables d'Olonne (France), 09.01.2021, 12:16 Uhr
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Reindeer and gingerbread shorten the time of Finnish solo skipper Ari Huusela (63) in his cockpit
Reindeer and gingerbread shorten the time of Finnish solo skipper Ari Huusela (63) in his cockpit   Bild: ©Ari Huusela/Stark

Les Sables d'Olonne (France) [ENA] For the 27 VendeeGlobe skippers, food for thought is plentiful. But given two-thirds are French surprisingly little is known about their daily rations keeping body and soul together. How did the circumnavigators feed themselves for the last 60 days, how did they prepare their meals on board?

The subject of sustenance starts with planning well before the start of the race and takes into account two basic needs: energy and pleasure. When setting sail the navigators must cater for around 100 days of provisions carefully calculated to ensure both elements. Although daily energy requirements differ they are assumed to vary between 3500 and 5000 kilocalories or more in contrast to some 3000 calories ashore. And in the coldest parts of the planet, a Vendée Globe skipper needs twice as many calories as someone at home. Since the weight of the food affects yachts’ performance supplies probably wont exceed 200 kilos including cleaning and personal hygiene products.

Apart from a small load of fresh foodstuffs as vegies and fruits the emphasis of rations are on freeze-dried food and ready meals apportioned in plastic bags. Many skippers, however, find the time and enjoy preparing fresh meals. Italian Giancarlo Pedote for instance was seen on footage from his boat Prysmian Group paying homage to his country by cooking fusilli on his galley’s tiny camping stove, probably inspired by the cookbook Appunti di cucina: cuninare, spendere e mangiare meglio (Kitchen notes: cooking, spending and eating better) handy right next to it. The temperature in his boat must have been below zero since his olive oil was frozen up. He also had the puff pastry Bianco forno, arte pasticcera Fiorentine, in store.

Since pleasurable moments are rare in the vast emptiness of the southern Oceans goodies like sweets or nuts to nibble from help sailors overcome their loneliness and improve their mood. Finnair captain Ari Huusela, skipper of the penultimate yacht Stark, relaxes over cinnamon spiked gingerbread from Brittany packed in a small wooden box featuring a gingerbread man. While a staple of Reindeer jerky is another niblet helping to shorten his time Summer Wind coffee appears to be complementing his superior moments. Based on Frank Sinatra’s song Summer Wind the blend promises inspiration and “invites you to dream and enjoy the most beautiful time of the year,” according to the bag Huusela brandishes in front of the camera.

Before becoming a professional navigator Paris-born Alexia Barrier started sailing at a very early age. Sailing teacher at 15, she worked in the sailing yachting industry as co-skipper or crew, while studying Sports Management at Nice University of Sports. In lockers near the galley on her yacht TSE – 4myPlanet she stows Armatore’s tonno rosso, olives, spaghetti, meatballs in tomato sauce with potatoes, tagliatelle with artichokes and other delicacies for eating “well in the wild”, as the Firepot product risotto aux cepes next to an impressive block of Parmesan cheese suggests. The Breton skipper Jeremie Beyou, securing third place in the VendéeGlobe 2016-2017, celebrated his crossing of the equator with beef, rice and quinoa.

Miranda Merron, a Cambridge graduate before working in Tokyo, Sydney and Paris, simply displayed how she enjoys apricot yogurt from her sponsor Campagne de France and spooning a ready bio meal. While her menus are indeed mainly composed of freeze-dried meals, for breakfast she has porridge from individual sachets and for special occasions she also eats prepared dishes given to her by Anne Le Cam, the same as those of Jean Le Cam who can't stand freeze-dried. For treats she inter alia took along a large quantity of chocolate bars, a dozen tubes of Swedish Kalles Kaviar (Cod roe spread) and Cheddar cheese. She also packed a small bottle of olive oil, fruits, 12 hard-boiled eggs and two bottles of non-alcoholic beer for special occasions.

Manuel Cousin, a 52-year-old Norman based in Les Sables d'Olonne, his boat’s homeport, showed on camera how he treated himself to a chocolate cake to mark the passing of the Cape of Good Hope. He even takes time to grind coffee in his small battery mill. Boris Herrmann from Hamburg confided to his video audience that he had to postpone the whisky and chocolate party planned for welcoming the New Year because he had to stitch together his torn main sail. Although one would think that fresh fish would be a staple food source for circumnavigators, Boris waves it off. They were sailing too fast to catch fish, he said in an earlier interview, so one would have to make do with what happens to land on deck now and then.

He rather focused on freeze-dried dishes and shrink-wrapped normal meals both of which were very tasty, “with a little chili powder and a dash of olive oil you almost become a gourmet sometimes,” he told Stern magazine, adding that he had brought some alcohol, too “to salute … the sea god - an old tradition.” Thursday having switched from the grey and icy South Pacific under blue Atlantic skies he said that after the next low he would open the bottle of Champagne he had received from Jean Yves Chauve, the official VendeeGlobe doctor.

“I said I would open it at the Equator, at the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn and I still have it, and I never opened it as there was always something going on,” Herrmann said according to a VendeeGlobe press release. His colleague Kojiro Shiraishi from Tokyo seemed to have better luck: he managed to uncork a bottle of Hakkaisan Sake after crossing the Equator. Food onboard does not only influence performance and mood but also the sleep of the sailors. As the examples show they carry sweets or protein-rich food stimulating sleep or staying awake. And we have also learned that some skippers prefer ready meals to 50-60 per cent freeze-dried and vacuum packed rations for which fresh water is used from desalinators.

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