Born in Barcelona 35 years ago, fireman professional Didac Costa began his oceanic career in the Mini Transat 2011. But in just five years he has already completed the Barcelona World Race 2014-15 and next November he will start the Vendee Globe. Without sponsoring and making real balancing acts, he is giving an admirable example of dedication and determination
Five years ago you finished the Mini Transat on a standard boat, were you already thinking in the Vendee Globe?
Didac: Honestly, no. I knew about the race, but in 2011 I did not have it in mind. Achieve competing in the Mini Transat it was a great goal for me, I only thought of the Mini, not looking beyond.
But then came the Barcelona World Race.
Didac: It was an opportunity that gave me the FNOB (Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona). They proposed a team with Aleix Gelabert that we willingly accepted. During the Barcelona World Race I was not thinking about the Vendee, it was already a dream be racing in an IMOCA for my first Around the World race.
How hard is it?
Didac: It is quite different. This time is a personal project, with small collaborations, and without a big sponsor. A project based on illusion, shared with people who are supporting me a lot and also with small contributions, which for us suppose the viability of the project. The FNOB has also played an important role to make the project possible.
How have you cover the core budget?
Didac: Well, I invested all my savings, I have asked some credits and some friends have also helped me. Ever since we started, suspense has been enormous until a few weeks ago when we decide to proceed no matter what. That has complicated keeping some contacts and promoting the project in the media. Until the boat transport to Les Sables I will still be working as a fireman, and still I have to define which type of job permission I will have during the race with my bosses.
Have you been training?
Didac: No, since the beginning of the project there have been countless hours working on the boat to prepare thoroughly. I could have only sail the 10 days of the qualifying.
Are not you worried about facing the Vendée without almost having sailed solo an IMOCA?
Didac: Things are like this; it has not been because I was not willing to but we have not had time. Besides the boat is the same, sailing double handle or solo are two rhythms and styles quite different. Now I have to face manoeuvres alone, and this changes the game. You have to be even more foresighted and prudent, anticipate more and remember that the times required are longer.
At least you know well the boat, is it important?
Didac: Absolutely, firstly for the reliability and also knowing perfectly all the systems. It is also very important to know her performances and her sailing behaviour. This will be very important for the routage and sail combinations. Somehow it compensates a little my lack of training.
Will you assimilate well sail your boat without Aleix?
Didac: I have no option, so… I must get used to know that I do not have someone to replace me on my low moments, to have to take decisions without consultation, to sail and live alone during many weeks.
Have you changed things on the boat?
Didac: As a novelty we have a central bunk in the nav station, because in duo sailng we slept on two lateral bunk beds. We reviewed thoroughly the boat and all the systems, and having special attention on the mast. We have changed the rig and all bolts (pins). Also the batteries are new, but identical to the above.
What about the sails?
Didac: We have only been able to do two new sails: mainsail and solent. The rest are the ones we used in BWR, which are in good conditions, but we changed the genoa then by other less used. Due that it had already two sponsoring paintings it was very heavy. Repainted again for covering those logos would turn it into a mammoth. The sails plan is good, it run very well sailing with Aleix. The only doubt that we had then was the convenience of a small spinnaker but not doubts sailing solo: discarded.
The boat is ready for the Vendee, are you?
Didac: The truth is that I have not had time for physical and mental training. My usual job as a fireman requires a good physical condition and living in watch modes, but I am not 100% prepared so I hope to improve in this final stretch. Mentally I have not had time to think much about the race so far has been boat, boat only. If spares a minute, my mind flies the financial side, where we have achieved a balance to optimize the few resources we have. I’m not especially worried because I have sailed once nonstop around the world although it was double. Prior to departure days in Les Sables and I’ll be in race mode 100%.
Are you a MacGiver sailor?
Didac: I think I defend myself well. I am not of those who finish things very “nickel-plated” but I finish what I begin. I’m pretty handy, I solve the problem and I do not strive with a nice finish. I’m pretty versatile in all areas, although I must improve in ropes. Electricity may be my remarkable point. I do not get bad grades in hydraulics, mechanics and electronics.
Have you received any council from Vendée’s veterans?
Didac: No, but there has not been an occasion. Perhaps the days before the departure they will advice me things. If they are helpful tips, they are more than welcome.
What is your goal at the Vendee?
Didac: Above all finishing it. About time, my reference is the 98 days I did with this boat in the BWR, but then it was double handled and with the Mediterranean. Dates are also different so my reference is relative. I wish more than anything not to have any breakdowns or serious damages, be able to navigate without major mechanical constraints.