French sailor pushes back at doubters

Published on October 18th, 2022

The problem with record setting is when the pursuit is less about the achievement and more about the exposure. While it is a privilege for adventurers to share their experience, there are times when the endeavor is not as it seems.

The jury is out on what the intentions were for a French sailor who made record claims when tackling the Northwest Passage in a cabinless catamaran, but in a CBC report, he’s now making headlines for the wrong reasons:


The man at the centre of a Northwest Passage controversy says he isn’t a cheat or a liar — and he never claimed to have set a record with his 2017 solo crossing in a catamaran.

Yvan Bourgnon of France says he’s shocked by accusations circulating in French media that he embellished the facts of his crossing, cheated on a record attempt and then tried to cover it up.

Sure, he tried to make the story come alive for those he told it to, said Bourgnon — who wouldn’t, after navigating 7,500 kilometres of treacherous Arctic waters in a boat with no cabin?

“Isn’t that what every adventurer does when he describes his journey?” Bourgnon said in a written response to the accusations.

“Telling, making the story come alive to share it, giving it meaning, making people feel the moment — this is the very nature of adventure storytelling and in no case does it deserve to be accused of cheating or lying.”

At the heart of this odd controversy are headlines and articles in French newspapers that conflate two subjects: a lawsuit that’s currently before the French courts, and accusations that he fabricated or lied about aspects of his trip. – Full report

Editor’s note: In 2014, Scuttlebutt shared a video from Yvan in which he documented his mission to sail around the world in a beach cat. The video ended with 5000 miles remaining, and while he did ultimately complete the journey, it involved imprisonment and the destruction of his boat. Quite a story… click here.

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