Personal situation: PACS contract with 2 children - Nina (8) and Alec (2)
Post within Groupama Team France: Sailor - Grinder in charge of racking up the necessary energy for such roles as trimming the foils
Education: School teacher. STAPS (Science and Technique of Physical and Sports Activities) then the IUFM (Institute specialising in training primary/secondary teachers). Master’s I in biomechanics.
Matthieu Vandame, 34, like his teammate Arnaud Jarlegan, comes from a sports catamaran background. Matthieu was a World F18 Champion, won the Tour de France à la Voile on a Diam 24, competed in the Little America’s Cup and has done a lot of racing with and against Franck Cammas. Thanks to his power, his brilliant university qualifications and an exemplary attitude, the sailor from Vannes has quickly become an indispensable member of Groupama Team France as grinder and trimmer.
Career and experience:
I got into sailing my chance, in the Golfe du Morbihan (Brittany) at 11 years of age. At the club, there was a good standard with guys like François and Pierre-Antoine Morvan, Matthieu Souben and Gurvan Bontemps. We were coached by Daniel Souben. That’s where I met Arnaud Jarlegan in fact. François Morvan and I had to call a halt to our training to take our BAC exams (A’ level equivalent). Having joined the French Team, the French Sailing Federation supplied us with a brand new Tornado. This is the boat we used to secured our first results in 2005, finishing 5th in the European Championship. We dropped off the podium on the final day. The following year, the French Sailing Federation gave us the means to prepare to attempt an Olympic selection for 2008. Unfortunately, François Morvan got injured in 2006 and I had to train with a number of different crew. Inevitably, the following world championship didn’t live up to expectations in terms of results. It was at this point that I decided to take the competitive examination for civil service to become a school teacher. I needed a different kind of challenge.
In 2008, I returned to sailing and my status as a top-level athlete enabled me to devote more time to my passion. Together with François, we trained but we also developed the equipment so we could be faster across the water. That year, we made it to the SOF Medal Race and ranked 7th in the European Championship.
In 2012, we won the World F18 Championship with Olivier Backes, one of France’s top helmsmen.
In 2013, I continued on the F18 with a new helmsman: François Gabart and we ranked 4th in the World Championship that year. In May that same year, I put in my first tacks on a flying boat, the Flying Phantom, with Franck Cammas at the helm.
Your first memory of ‘Sailing’?
With my parents, on a sailboat in Damgan, Brittany. I was 4 or 5.
Your sailing highlight?
The victories! I think it was the World F18 Champion title in Los Angeles in 2012.
The worst moment?
You forget them! I believe that the hardest thing is when you’re training flat out, you see that you’re making progress, but you don’t get the results.
What does the America’s Cup mean to you?
It’s the event that most inspires me. When I was a kid and the Cup was still raced on a monohull, François (Morvan) and I spent the night at his mum’s house watching the races. There was a mysterious element with the secrets and the gossip around the teams’ innovations.
Do you recall a special moment in an America’s Cup? If so, can you tell us about it?
If I had to choose just one, I’d say the moment in 2013 where ETNZ crossed the finish line outside the time limit when they were leading and had to score just one point. Just goes to show that victory hangs by a thread.
Housework, cooking, gardening, what do you do at home?
I no longer have much time to participate in family life but I love cooking. I like tidying up too as it makes you feel positive about starting off the week well for example.
What can we find in your fridge?
Milk, meat, cheese – Abondance cheese from the Haute-Savoie to be exact – and sugary drinks!
Your morning ritual?
I’m not the type to snooze! I stop the alarm straightaway. I get up and get dressed. In general, I don’t have a big breakfast, just bread and butter and a hot chocolate.
Your favourite meal?
It’s not a meal, it’s a drink: strawberry coca-cola. For meals, I like safe bets: pasta with olive oil or bolognaise pasta with parmesan.
On a Sunday when you’re not working, what do you do?
I relax, I watch a film, I go out with my kids. It’s also important to know how to enjoy doing nothing.
You have to choose three people to have supper with, who are they?
The last film or/and book, which had an impact on you?
The film Drive.
What TV programme or TV series would you like to be part of?
None to be honest. I’m discreet, I don’t like putting in an appearance. I’m not a ‘public’ figure.
The sport you enjoy?
Frankly, I like physical training. And if I had more time, I’d go and do more outdoor sport like SUP or mountain biking.
The sport you could never have practiced?
Dancing, I’m rubbish.
Who’s your best mate in sailing?
François Morvan, we grew up together.
Which sailor would you have liked to sail with and why?
I’ve already sailed with some fantastic sailors: Franck (Cammas), Billy (Besson), Olivier (Backes), François Gabart. For now, I have fewer offshore racing plans. I like day races, races where you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, manage your sleep… perhaps that will come later, but for now it’s the Cup.
Are you always right?
Yes and no. When I’m sure of myself, I insist. On the other hand, I am also able to recognise my faults.
Quality / flaw?
I think I’m demanding and particular about things, which is a quality to my mind, but could also be considered to be a flaw.
What were you like as a child?
Kind and shy (according to my mum)
The nickname that best suits you?
I don’t know if it suits me, but in this environment, they call me JACK. However, the story behind this nickname is confidential.
Your favourite subject at school?
Maths and sport
The subject you least liked?
French, and above all dictation!
Your ideal redeployment?
I’m still a school teacher but for now, returning to teaching seems complicated in terms of rhythm. Today, I love what I’m doing so much that I don’t feel like I’m working. Redeployment isn’t a topic that worries me though.
Your dream retirement is where?
In a hot country, in the sunshine, with a lot of travelling… like New Zealand.
During which period would you have liked to live?
Ours! Before this, boats didn’t fly!
Your last moment of madness?
I have absolutely no time for that. But if I had one such moment, I think I’d switch cars.
The worst mistake in the clothing department in your view?
Parents who drop their children off at school in slippers and pyjamas.
Who do you dream of meeting?
Who would you like to get one over on?
I’d really love to give Oracle a thrashing ;-)!
You never leave without…