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31 October 2004, 07:48 am
Final Stretch
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Vendée Globe
Les Sables D'Olonne

Those getting the boats ready for the Vendée Globe are now into the home stretch, and the final preparations are underway.
The supplies of food and diesel have their importance and many of the racers are paying close attention to these details. Gérard Nigault is one of the pillars of the Bonduelle Team. Better known on the pontoons under the nickname « Gégé », he has been working on Jean Le Cam's boat for years. For this Vendée Globe, he has widened the area of his skills to include food and even bedding. Everything is happening under the watchful eye of Anne, Jean's partner: «After all, I don't live with him » pointed out Gégé.

"We had to take into account two aspects concerning the supplies" explained Gérard. "The contents and the containers. The content involves the organisation, of course, of meals, paying close attention to the required calories, as well as Jean's tastes and preferences. This is where Anne gets involved. As for the containers, Jean's demands were clear. We had to satisfy two requirements. Managing the limited space and ensuring they were watertight. The solutions came quite naturally from our corporate partner, Bonduelle, whose expertise is well known. We thus vacuum-packed the food, wedged the cans in the cardboard boxes, and heat-wrapped the lot. Everything was then tested by us. One of the boxes was left for a whole weekend in a barrel of water. Not a single drop made it through to the cardboard box!"

«In this way, we prepared twenty eight boxes, based on two boxes a week, and then the fourteen weeks that in theory the race will last. We also added a special Christmas package and a box of freeze dried food, just in case!»

«The total weight of all that is a secret» joked Gégé. «But our system is completely rational, as far as the stowing away is concerned, and I hope it will be efficient and offer Jean high quality, balanced meals from the beginning to the end of his Vendée Globe. The contents of each box is split in two, one part for the main dishes, based on fish and white meat, and the other for condiments, sugar, coffee, jam, and one of the rare pleasures that Jean accepts, chocolate with nuts».

Bonduelle is one of the newest of the 60-foot Open IMOCA class boats. Among her many innovations, Gérard Nigault admits they have tried out and approved one of the most unexpected things: Jean's functional bedding. A bubble foam mattress specially designed and manufactured by the Quimper based firm Valentin, which takes on the shape of the sleeping quarters and, according to Gérard, «is comfortable whatever else is happening.
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