Denis Flageollet : Co-founder, De Bethune

When was this passion for sailing born ? 

When I was a child, the carpenter’s workshop that made fishing boats out of pine and larch wood was 100m from my grandfather’s watchmaking workshop and it smelt nicely of a combination of wood and tar and I loved watching him work. My father used to take me fishing on the lake where I always saw orange sail boats that I found incredibly attractive. After making a number of models that irritatingly sank, at about 12 years old I was finally able to sail. Even if it was only the boring but famous Vaurien designed for Glénans sailing school, it was still an adventure for me and an extraordinary discovery of the elements.


What is your favourite memory ?

The first time I crossed the raz de Sein (in Finistère) during the full moon under a spinnaker with a Sparkman & Stephens built by Rasmussen in 1954, of which only a very few examples still exist in the entire world.


What achievement are you most proud of ?

The single-handed restoration of a Shark made of mahogany in 1960! I stopped counting my hours after 1000 and I have now been renovating it regularly for more than 40 years.


What would the ultimate dream be ?

The Everest of sailing – the Vendée Globe – although it would abviously be totally inaccessible at my level. Imagine yourself alone for even a single night on a 60 foot Imoca going flat out in the Southern Ocean ! …


What do you think of the 34th America’s Cup ?

I think it is a great technological and human challenge. I appreciate the fact that the race is going back to one design sailing and a lot of regattas are planned, from the World Series to the final of the America’s Cup.


How does this passion affect your professional life ?

This activity helps you to free up your head immediately, and to take time out. It’s a school of patience that encourages introspection. These are virtues that are indispensable to balancing a tough professional life.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

Review overview