Damien Seguin, double paralympic gold medallist, is no stranger to challenge. Born without the use of his left hand, Damien has never considered his disability as a handicap. Quite the contrary in fact, as he lines up to take part in the world’s toughest round the world sailing race, the Vendée Globe, departing from France’s Sables d’Olonne on 8 November. This exploit is all the more extraordinary as Damien is the only skipper in the race of 167 sailors who is not fully able-bodied.
Where and when did it all start for Damien?
Damien’s passion for the seas started when he went to see the finish of the Route du Rhum in 1990 in Guadeloupe. He was inspired by the boats, the skippers, their accomplishments and he wanted to follow in their wake. He started sailing as part of the Olympic programme and successfully took part in 4 Games which provided him with the foundations to move into the realm of ocean racing. Since then, he has taken part in three Route du Rhum races between 2010 and 2018 and won the Tour de France sea race in 2017.
Vendée Globe – the challenge of a lifetime
The Vendée Globe is known by the general public as the Everest of the Seas. And for good reason. It’s a gruelling 74+ day race around the world, covering the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans for over 40 000 km. It circumnavigates 3 capes – Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn – where weather conditions are often at their most challenging. The race requires unparalleled levels of expertise, resilience and courage from the skipper as it is solo, non-stop and without assistance. And, in line with IMOCA regulations, the boat’s length is limited to just 18 metres.
Damien’s objective in taking part in the Vendée Globe is, in his own words, “to write a great story, in every sense of the word”. From a sporting perspective, his aim is to give himself the best possible chance of making the finish and achieving a result to be proud of. And beyond, the athlete’s performance, his sights are set on becoming the first sailor with a disability to complete the loop.
Legacy and the next generation
Damien’s quest is firmly to demonstrate that a handicap is not an anomaly but an opportunity to face even the most difficult of circumstances and overcome, finding solutions and strength in adversity. Diversity and inclusion are the principles he lives by and the ones he fervently wishes to pass on to those who live with disability on a daily basis. His own association « Des pieds et des mains » works to make sailing accessible to sportsmen and women with a handicap, and even to those without, who find his example both inspiring and motivational.
The commitment of Groupe APICIL
The values carried by Damien and his team resonate strongly with Groupe APICIL, 3rd social protection group in France. With over 80 years in the business of providing protection and stability to the most vulnerable in society through flexible health, retirement and savings solutions, Damien’s vision and values fit closely with those of the Group. Accompanying individuals and corporations through the journey of life – just like on the seas – requires planning, foresight and expertise. Groupe APICIL and its member companies are all involved in this journey providing financial services and solutions to address partner and client needs today and tomorrow.
At OneLife too, we are all proud to support Damien and his team as they cross the oceans and wish them fortitude and success!
Support Damien on social media: #VG2020 #GoDamien #TeamApicilVoile