Jules Verne Trophy: sailor Alexia Barrier embarks on a round-the-world sailing trip with an all-female crew
Sailor Alexia Barrier is embarking on an unprecedented project: to seek the record for sailing around the world with a 100% female crew. A "dream" she explains and a mission to show that anything is possible.

Jerome Val/https://www.francetvinfo.fr/

Alexia Barrier already has a Route du Rhum and a Vend?e Globe behind her . But her horizon now is to tackle the mythical Jules Verne Trophy on an Ultim, a giant flying trimaran, and with a crew made up entirely of female sailors. It 's his "Famous Project" . The Ni?oise, born in Paris, will start the selection in February. She tells franceinfo her desire to feminize an environment traditionally dominated by men.

franceinfo: You have prestigious races to your credit. What motivates you to try something else?

Alexia Barrier:Before the Vend?e Globe, I already wanted to move up a gear and I suggested to my partner at the time to do something else. It turns out that this partner let me down on the way, three years after our collaboration. And there, I realize the obvious: what I want to do is ocean multihulls and I want to do it with a crew. I start to think about who I want to sail with and what immediately comes to mind are sailor names because they are super sailors and friends. And comes back to my mind my second dream of a little girl. The first is the Vend?e Globe, the second the Jules Verne Trophy. Hence this idea: why not go on a multihull around the world with a 100% female crew.

This is the project as you imagine it on paper. It has to be done. We know that in sailing, sometimes, the achievement is almost as complicated as a world tour. But what were the difficulties in carrying it out?

"For me, it has never been easy. I never signed a contract for ten years, as it can happen. I knew it was going to be complicated. When looking for sponsors, you should know that there is approximately one positive response for every 100 negative responses. So I put on my superwoman cape, ready to take a hundred negative answers from me before finding the partner who was going to accompany us. But in the end, it didn't really turn out that way. At a conference a year ago, I met our first sponsor who fell in love with the project, its values, for the challenge it represents: values ​​of collaboration, cooperation, highlighting different profiles . This is the power of telling stories that are more like our society. What we would really like is of course to beat the record."

"There is another challenge which is just as gigantic. It is to drag women, little girls, young women in our wake and to make them want to dare, to get started and to tell themselves that in the life, yes, you can have a negative answer. But the positive answer is not far behind."

Alexia Barrier, navigator

"It's a bit like the paradox of your sport. It's the only one where women and men, sailors and sailors, can line up together on the same starting line. And despite everything, it's still a little more complicated when you're a sailor."

"The reality is that about 5% of women are on the offshore racing circuit. When you see on the last Route du Rhum, there were 140 participants, so 140 solo skippers and only seven women. We are not looking for parity, but for there to be more women in the offshore racing landscape, I think that can bring a lot of wealth and skills."

"It's like in all sectors of society, role models are needed. But it can't be done with the snap of a finger. We also have to give things time to evolve. And I think that a project like The Famous Project can inspire women to get into sailing, sports or any field."

What is the reception around this project?

"There are people to tell you: "it's going to be complicated..." There have always been some. I think when people tell you it's not possible, it's just that they send you back to their fears and fears."

"We have a lot of support in the sailing world."

Alexia Barrier, navigator

We also have quite a few male coaches who will accompany us: there have been so few women in recent years in oceanic multihulls that we need to steal the keys to these machines from them to know how to go quickly.

How are you going to put together this completely new crew?

I looked for the best sailors in the world and so I turned to the international market. Today, there is only one woman sailing an Ultim (Swiss Dona Bertarelli aboard Sails of Change). For now, there are eight of us preparing, with six nationalities: French women with Marie Riou and Marie Tabarly, an English woman with Dee Caffari, the only woman to have traveled around the world upside down and right side up. alone. We have a Swedish, an American, an Irishwoman and we are going to recruit young talents in the Olympic series. We are going to sail them in Marseille, on the site of the 2024 Olympic Games.

For offshore racing, it was a lot of money. Where are you financially?

"At the moment we have three quarters of the budget, which is absolutely insane and fantastic. After a year of searching for partners, we will announce our partners in June. We have a training boat and we will have an Ultim from this summer. We are delighted to have all the means to get off to a good start. I feel a bit like Thomas Pesquet training to walk on the moon. I am truly 300% dedicated to this Jules Verne mission which will take place in 2025."