X 37 “Le souffle de la mer III” – ©Louis Robein
The Global Solo Challenge is a great human adventure that unites sailors from all over the world. Each of them has a unique story and background. The choice of the boat they sail with tells us a lot about them; it is a personal decision based on their experiences at sea and on land. Often, it is a case of love at first sight, as if the sailor and the boat knew they were destined to experience great adventures together. During a round-the-world voyage, as many sailors who have already embarked on this endeavour can attest, the boat becomes one with the sailor. The boat is a travel companion, a mean to fulfil a dream, a home, and the material link that binds us to the land from which we depart and return.
Louis Robein, with his numerous participations in the Solitaire du Figaro, is a complete, competitive, and meticulous sailor. He chose to participate in the GSC with the boat he has owned since 2010, focusing on reliability and embracing the reuse and recycling philosophy promoted by the race organisation. A resident of Lyon, Louis’s boat is based in the Gulf of Saint Tropez, at the Cogolin marina.
The choice of his boat was a coincidence. “After participating in eight editions of the Solitaire du Figaro, the organisation, in 2003, upgraded the fleet from the Figaro I to the Figaro II. For an amateur like me, without sponsors, it was impossible to participate, and I had to leave the circuit. Years later, in 2010, I decided to buy a more comfortable boat that could still satisfy the pleasure of going fast, a cruiser-racer. I went to the Paris Boat Show to see what the market offered. By chance, I met someone I knew at the X-Yacht shipyard stand. In reality, I just wanted to see beautiful boats but didn’t think I could afford them. My acquaintance, who had raced with me in the Figaro circuit in the past, offered me a boat a little smaller than the one I thought of buying but very beautiful, solid, and performant. It was a used boat, five years old, an X-37 launched in 2005. It was love at first sight and a twist of fate, and I bought it. Over time, I have come to appreciate the quality of the details and the pleasure of sailing on my boat. I am happy with my choice.”
X-Yachts boats, founded by brothers Lars and Niels Jeppesen in Denmark in 1979, have become synonymous with design and quality over the years. The Jeppesen brothers were passionate about racing themselves and created a product for lovers of “fast” sailing. After more than forty years of production, the shipyard now has over 60 sailing boat models. The X 37, produced between 2004 and 2010, has about 150 units and boasts three consecutive victories at the 2008 ORC 670 World Championship.
The 11.35-metre hull is built in sandwich construction with a synthetic PVC foam core. The lead bulb keel provides stability for the boat. The oversized mast, with two sets of spreaders, reaches 16 metres in height, making the boat fast. The boat, weighing nearly seven tonnes, is stable and powerful, performing well even in rough seas.
The rigging is made of Nitronic 50 rod, a round steel resistant to corrosion with excellent elongation and breaking load characteristics. “For my round-the-world trip, I will sail with Dacron sails, solid sails with a classic fabric for good durability. I will have a mainsail, a rolled Genoa, a staysail, and a storm jib that I can mount on the rolled sail at the bow. For downwind courses, a spinnaker with a carbon pole.”
The cabin has a spray hood to protect the crew. All manoeuvres, including reefing lines, are led back to the cockpit, and there are no winches on the mast. “I didn’t have to change the boat’s layout for my solo sailing. On board the X-Yachts boats, there are quality materials, and everything is solid. The mainsail track is integrated into the cockpit, and I have two winches, one on each side, to adjust the nearly 44 m2 mainsail. I also sail with visually impaired people from the UNADEV (French National Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired) and with people with little experience; therefore, I have organised the boat to handle emergencies on my own. The boat is responsive and enjoyable to steer; it has a large wheel of almost one and a half metres to direct the large balanced rudder blade.”
Louis has already completed the 2,000-mile qualification required by the GSC organisation to validate participation in the solo round-the-world race. In fact, he completed a full Atlantic tour with an Atlantic crossing from Europe to the Caribbean with a crew and returned solo. This experience allowed Robein to better understand his boat and think about effective solutions for the long journey ahead.
“Last year, during my Atlantic tour, I was able to test the boat. I decided to install two hydrogenerators so as not to have to move one from one side to the other, an operation that is not easy to perform safely. Inside there are two cabins, one in the bow and the other in the stern, but for my round-the-world trip, I will transform the doors into watertight bulkheads and live in the centre of the boat, where the chart table with navigation instruments and weather study tools and the kitchen are also located. I will sleep in the saloon to be ready to go out quickly if needed. I have studied solutions aimed at both utility and comfort that cannot be missed on such a long journey.”
Louis began preparing for the GSC early and has been working full time since September 2021. His project is self-financed, although he is actively seeking sponsors and has only received a few voluntary donations. He has extensively studied solutions for the instruments and materials to add. He works alone, and occasionally, five people help him: Jean-Claude, Jean-Pierre, Lionel, Régis, and Thierry.
The main changes to his boat have been solely in the boat’s equipment: a new radar, a second hydrogenerator, a new watermaker, and communication instruments. Nothing structural. “The wiring of the electrical system and the installation of communication instruments, such as satellite phone antennas and Iridium GO for data, were challenging. I had to install a second socket for the hydrogenerator. I added more bilge pumps in each watertight area. However, I prioritise safety over performance. My goal is to complete the round-the-world trip, and if possible, I will compete, but above all, I want to participate.”
The name Louis chose for his boat, “Le souffle de la mer III”, expresses the sensitivity of this sailor, a synergy between wind and sea in which the longing for an alliance with nature emerges. For Louis, it is essential to live in harmony and respect nature, never to fight it because it would be a losing battle anyway. “When I sailed in the Figaro, everyone had the sponsor’s name on the boat, and I, as an amateur, could choose it. “Le souffle de la mer” was liked by everyone, and they told me it was very meaningful, so even when I changed boats, I kept it. For me, the connection with nature is the foundation of sailing. I feel in symbiosis with nature, and I feel good, as if I am in my place.”
When asked about his relationship with “Le souffle de la mer III”, which will carry him to ride the waves of his dream, Robein shares, “My Atlantic tour allowed me to create a deeper complicity with my boat. Solo sailing brought us closer. Now I know her strengths and weaknesses, and I am organising her to be completely a part of me and reflect me. “Le souffle de la mer III” is my travel companion, and I can’t wait to bring her to the starting line in A Coruña and begin this great adventure together on September 23rd.”