What is the aim of the “France Tour of Plastic Bikes”?
This includes measuring the concentration of microplastics on the French coast. I also included sensors to read the CO2 rate, salinity and temperature of the water. This data will be sent to my partners (Ifremer, Purdue University, IRD, Geomar, Max Planck Institute, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission for UNESCO and Oceanops). Each team specializing in its field processes and analyzes the data and model the results before they are made available to the international scientific community in open data.
Why are you setting off again this summer when you’ve already taken readings during the race, especially during the last Vendée Globe?
At the Vendée Globe, I didn’t have a system on board to measure the concentration of microplastics in the oceans. Usually it is the scientists who adapt to the limitations of my work. This time, I am putting my boat on duty, both in terms of tracks and sampling areas. With a more restrictive protocol on board for sampling, especially at the estuarine outlet, where little data is currently available.
How do the oceans clean all this plastic waste?
I really don’t believe in garbage collection boats. The ocean is so vast. There are a lot of plastics that are inaccessible because they float between two waters where they are stuck at the bottom of estuaries. Microplastics are not visible to the naked eye. The only permanent solution is to turn off the faucet that human activities on the ground provide. The Tour de France tour on the French coast specifically aims to raise the awareness of as many people as possible about these issues. I want to increase discussion time with the audience, especially the younger ones. In particular, I will stop in Brest, on the occasion of World Oceans Day, on Tuesday 8 June, but also in Marseille.
Why does the Tour de France start from La Trinité-sur-Mer?
Because it is in this port that my boat is based, and here I learned to sail. I never stopped, but I started my career as a journalist in Paris, before gradually turning to ocean racing. I moved to Vannes and became a professional in 2015 to participate in my first Vendée Globe competition. But I see the marine environment deteriorating like everyone else. And I also need to make sense of my commitment, beyond the mathematical challenge.
What’s your sports news?
I start a new course, marked by the arrival of new sponsors and new colors for my Imoca. My first target is the double-handed Jacques Faber Transat (leaving in October), which I started with Trinitane Louis Perehar as co-leader. He will join me to tackle the Mediterranean part of the Tour de France, which will also allow us to train in race condition. My second goal will be Rum Road (November 2022).
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