Meet an X-Sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

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Sunday 27th October 2019

Meet an X-Sailor

A series of interviews, setting focus on the X-Sailor and the yachts behind them.

– Jean-Luc Van Den Heede – The single-handed legend

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (born 8 June 1945 in Amiens) is a French sailor. He is best known for his achievements in single-handed sailing and set the current world-record for the westabout circumnavigation in 2004 (he holds the overall record, ie. although he sailed solo, nobody was faster on this route with a crewed boat).

He started sailing at the age of 17. In the Breton port city of Lorient where he worked as a mathematics teacher. After 1989 he became a full-time sailor. Among sailors, he is also known by his initials VDH.

Extract of the track record
– 1977 – 1979: 2nd of the Mini Transat
– 1990: 3rd of the Vendée Globe
– 1993: 2nd of the Vendée Globe
– 1998: 2nd of the Route du Rhum
– 2004: Record westabout circumnavigation in 122d 14h 3min 49s.
– 2019: Winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

So, what do you do when you are 74 years old and have achieved some of the highest levels of Single-handed sailing?

– “You buy an X-37 and start racing… “

We have asked Jean-Luc a couple of questions about his X- career:

The X-119 set the tone
“I started my X-Career in 1990 after I finished the first Vendée Globe – I was the lucky owner of an X-119, it was named after my sponsor “QUILLERRY”. I primarily used it for racing and some VIP cruising. I had some great time onboard the X-119. We won and had honored places of several races in France. One of my best souvenirs is “18 Hours of Arcachon” where we won overall and handicap (about 100 entrants), and we had the record of several years after. I was the proud owner until 1994.”

Coming back to X-Yachts
– You have been an X-owner before, what made you return to X-Yachts?

“I was in the market for a boat which I could use for both racing and cruising, the boat had to be strong and to be able to perform at the same time. I have a long list of requirements and features that I look for when buying a boat. I chose an X-37 because it had no compression; When I stepped on board the X-37 in Barcelona (where I found it), I immediately felt the same feeling as when I sailed the X-119. The DNA of X-Yachts was clear.  And I was right; Only a month after I bought the X-37, we won the first race we participated in, so the boat met my expectations right away.

Some of the features I think is rare to find in a boat is performance with a good ORC Rating and to be able to cruise comfortably at the same time. These two factors are making the X-37 a unique boat and therefore has a proper resell value. As a former math teacher that is important to me as well!

The X-37 has the same sponsor as the GGR: MATMUT 2. We entered the first race yesterday. We won in our class in real and handicap! Second in scratch.“

We are pleased to welcome Jean-Luc back onboard X-Yachts!

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