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  • Interview : Gérard d'ABOVILLE - Commissaire de la Semaine du Golfe

Wide angle
they tell you the Gulf

Through different personalities who have a close link with the Gulf of Morbihan, we wanted to give you a different perspective -that we’ve named “wide angle”- on this breathtaking site that is the Gulf of Morbihan. So you can start travelling virtually on our Little Sea! 

Interview : Gérard d'ABOVILLE - Commissaire de la Semaine du Golfe

 Gérard d'Aboville, well known for his two Atlantic rowing crossing in 1980 and Pacific in 1991, is also a true Morbihan native in total osmosis with the "Golfe du Morbihan".

He kindly answered to our questions about "La Semaine du Golfe". Since 1999, he is the "General Commissioner".

 

How do you explain your involvement in every edition of the Semaine du Golfe?

Following the Erika shipwreck in December 1999, a huge effort had been made both from the authorities and an army of volunteers to clean our shoreline that had been badly sullied.

In order not to add an economic downturn to the ecological disaster, we brainstormed about an event that would prove to all that the Morbihan had recovered its unspoilt environment.

It is then that a small team of enthusiasts came up with the idea of a big gathering of tall ships that was presented to the General Council. I had been involved in the coordination of the thousands of volunteers who helped cleaning the beaches and I was asked to be the General Commissioner for this event.

I’m in love with the Gulf where I started sailing, I also have a passion for the maritime heritage and as such, I am Chairman of a Foundation that aims for its preservation. I also own a classic sailboat built in 1907 that is a listed building and is probably the most ancient boat on the Gulf. For all these reasons, I accepted the offer with great enthusiasm. 

What does the Gulf of Morbihan mean for you in terms of environment, sailing and personally?

The Gulf is where I started sailing when I was very young. This is where my passion for boats was born; it’s the place I was dreaming about when I found myself in difficult situations on faraway oceans. It’s important to have roots linked to a place, and what an exceptional place! The Gulf has everything: its natural sites, streams that make navigation a challenge, a rich historic heritage, megaliths that still hold many secrets and an ever changing scenery thanks to the tides…

What will be the highlights of the 2015 Gulf’s week?

The principle of the Gulf’s Week and what makes it unique is the navigation in different homogeneous flotillas. Each day, one flotilla leaves one of the ports on the Gulf to reach another one and in each port, volunteers (more than 2,000) compete to give the best welcome to the crews and the visitors ashore. Moreover, many spots on the coast allow watching closely the boats. Therefore, to me there are many highlights but surely the climax is the Big Parade on the Saturday with all the flotillas sailing together to enter the Gulf, each of them in the wake of an iconic tall ship. 

How many sailing boats will take part in 2015?

Quantity is not the objective of the organizers of the Gulf’s week. However because the event is successful, most of the participants come back once they’ve tried it. In spite of the early date in the sailing season, many foreign boats join in. From one edition to the next, we have a growing number of participants. At the beginning of March, almost 1,000 boats had registered, including around 50 British and more than 30 Dutch. 

Gérard d'ABOVILLE - biography

Gérard d'ABOVILLE

Before1980 :Ship deliveries, sailing consultant for TV productions, ships brokerage (yachts and fishing boats)

1980: Crossing of the Atlantic in a rowing boat

1991 : Crossing of the Pacific in a rowing boat

From 1992 to 2014 : Chairman of the Supreme Council of Yachting

From 1994 to 1999: Member of the European Parliament (Fishing Commission)

From 2009 to 2014 : Member of Paris Council

Since 1996 : Chairman of the Foundation for Sea and Rivers Heritage (Fondation du Patrimoine Maritime et Fluvial)

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