We're delighted to introduce Guirec Soudée, a Breton adventurer who has rowed solo across the Atlantic. Travelling from the Canaries to St Barts, he spent 74 days at sea and covered 5300 km.
Opinel knives were with Guirec throughout his adventure thanks to a partnership that arose naturally. He spent some time talking to us about his relationship with the brand and reflecting on his journey.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I'm Guirec Soudée, I'm 29 and I'm a sailor and adventurer. I've just done a solo transatlantic row covering a little over 5300 km in 74 days. You may know my hen Monique. I sailed round the world with her, travelling between the North and South Poles. She helped me survive 130 days of being self-sufficient when our boat Yvinec was stuck in the Greenland sea ice.
What is your first memory of Opinel?
I was lucky enough to grow up on an island in Brittany and was always in the water. I already had an Opinel in my pocket as a boy, which I used for fishing and cutting bits of rope! I remember having to go to the headmaster when I was 7 because I had the Opinel in my pocket. I'd forgotten to leave it at home. I was so proud of it, I was showing it to everyone in the playground...and it didn't go down too well!
Many people think of Opinel as embodying expertise and a brand that's passed on. What do you think the Opinel values are?
For me, Opinel is exactly that: a must-have, timeless brand that reflects French know-how, especially from Savoie as it happens. Opinel conveys these values with knives that look the same as they always did, which is why they are so sentimental. Opinel is timeless!
How did you come up with the idea of rowing solo across the Atlantic?
I've always got lots of ideas when people ask me what my next expedition will be. I love tackling the elements: it's what drives me. And the ocean is my favourite playground. So, when I came across this boat at the boat show in December 2019, I knew I was going to take on the challenge. It was something completely different for me. The first few weeks of the adventure really tested my patience. I had to manage a lot of frustration. Rowing is nothing like sailing because something small can happen and you can go backwards for days because of bad weather; see hours of physical effort come to nothing. This forces you to be humble and resilient.
How did you become an adventurer?
I don't think it's something you decide to do. Or maybe you do. When the media became interested in my first adventure, and there was a bit of a buzz on social media, I thought people were getting something out of following me. They could feel motivated to follow their dreams and give themselves the means to achieve them through perseverance and daring. In the end, I decided that if people were encouraging me to continue the adventure, I must be useful for a more shared and altruistic mission than a personal one. Since then, partners have trusted me and helped me set up new projects so I can continue spreading this message of surpassing yourself and optimism. Life is beautiful, but short, so you have to live it to the full!
You took us with you by sharing your days on social media, but did you know that thanks to you, Opinels were rowed across the Atlantic?
I don't think they're the first Opinels to cross it. Opinel products are made by the people of Savoie but you would think they had been designed by sailors!
How were they used in the middle of the ocean?
At meals, and for any little technical jobs on-board with the electrics and mechanics and just for cutting ends of rope.
Describe Opinel in 3 words.
Reliability, family and tradition.