Simpson Marine Search Yachts
24th June 2020

A 13-Year Circumnavigation

Following a prestigious international basketball career, Boris Diaw has chosen to write a new chapter in his busy life by becoming the proud owner of the SEVENTY 7 n° 3 called Babac. Crazy about diving and traveling, the young retiree is setting off on a 13-year world tour under sail.

Objective: to discover the most beautiful spots on the planet!

Where does this passion for the sea and for boating come from?
I have always loved the sea. I’ve lived in the Bassin d’Arcachon region of France for ten years now, and I have a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) for doing day trips. This is where this passion to be on the water was born. Previously, as soon as I had a little free time, when I could go home between basketball seasons, I tried to be on the water every day. First of all because I love water-based activities, like diving and fishing, and then also being on the water and enjoying the calm of the ocean. I have always loved traveling and have always wondered what to do when I retire from sports. I’ve been retired for less than a year, but I started thinking about it maybe six or seven years ago. Travel? Yes! Will I have time? Yes, and there’s nothing better than doing it by boat and under sail…

So why Lagoon?
At the time, I had a friend who owned a Lagoon 420 that we sailed with for two summers. I really enjoyed it. I thought we could move up a gear! I had been in contact with the company for several years. I was looking at what they were proposing and I was also looking at all the catamarans that existed around the world. Every time, I would come back to a Lagoon! Which is a good coincidence: the Lagoon shipyard is located in Bordeaux, where I live. Clearly this has greatly facilitated exchanges with the yard, but I chose a Lagoon because I think they are really the best catamarans and not only because the company is local…

A special relationship must have been established with the Lagoon team for this catamaran project?
The relationship started very early on, as soon as I started looking at Lagoons. At the time, their largest model of catamaran was the 620. There was no bigger boat! While talking with them, I turned to a custom model, because the 620 was good, but really just for my size… I needed a big boat! So I opted for a 620 custom. At the same time, Lagoon told me about a project that was still a secret back then. A SEVENTY 7 was in progress, which at that time was to be a 72 or 720, in the continuation of the 620. I said OK, with the requirement of headroom of 2.10 meters (7 feet) high because on the 620, I was just clearing with my 2.03 meters (6’8”).

Speaking of size, what are the specific features on board the SEVENTY 7? Maybe a larger bed or diving equipment?
In terms of bedding, nothing has changed because everything is big and I fit perfectly into it. I asked the yard to make some changes to the shower, so as not to be too close to the tap. We had to dig down into the floor and put a 15 cm (6”) step to get down into the shower. It’s the only layout that’s been made for my size. Another change: the installation of a compressor for diving, to be able to be completely autonomous. In six years, I have passed almost all levels until I became a diving instructor two years ago. Today, I have all the equipment on board and above all the ability to fill the tanks completely independently. For so-called normal diving, but also on Nitrox and Trimix. Not many people have Trimix on board, in fact on a sailboat, I may be the only one (laughs)!

And forget about having a basketball hoop on board!
So no, no basketball hoop, I don’t want to damage the teak! You can find courts everywhere, and anyway, I take the opportunity to go back and forth quite a bit. I’m not on board all the time. I’ll be spending about 6 months of the year on the catamaran and the rest of the time I’ll be traveling between France and the US. Every time, it’s such a great pleasure to come back to my Lagoon again!

What’s your sailing program on board Babac? You were talking about a 13-year-old round-the-world trip, is that the principle of your trips back and forth?
That’s the idea, for 13 years, with about 6 months of cruising each year. This corresponds roughly to a 7½-year circumnavigation.

I left the Mediterranean by visiting the Balearics, Ibiza, Mallorca and then Corsica, Sardinia, the Aeolian Islands, Italy, Croatia and Malta. Then we headed back to Gibraltar for a transatlantic trip to the Caribbean where I’ll be staying for a year to see all the islands… starting with St. Martin and St. Barts, before going up to the Bahamas and then down through the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. We’ll probably spend the summer in the Grenadines, outside the hurricane belt. We also plan to visit the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao), and next winter we will have another short season in this area before sailing to Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica.

What memory or moment sticks most in your mind?
The most unforgettable memory will remain the transatlantic crossing. It was something I had down on my bucket list, it was really special. Being cut off from the world, without phone or internet, being with yourself, in peace and quiet. Then the encounter with a whale and it coming closer. Last summer in the Mediterranean, I particularly enjoyed Croatia and the Aeolian Islands! Very impressed by these still active volcanoes and the sheer beauty of the place…

Speaking of transatlantic, are there any famous sailors or personalities you admire? Are you interested in ocean racing?
I grew up with the sailors of the time, like Kersauson or Tabarly, colorful characters who shaped the vision of modern sailing. As for racing, for now I’m not really in speed mode, rather in quiet mode. It’s a means of traveling round the world in a peaceful way in communion with nature. Competition, why not? It’s impressive when you look at the Transat races, especially the last Route du Rhum and the bad weather there was…

To sum up, what do you enjoy on board your SEVENTY 7?
Frankly, she really meets all my expectations. There are only good times, and I don’t have the opportunity to get bored. We have everything we need on board, like the diving gear and all the things that make cruising life easier. Catamarans make for a pleasant and very easy way of life. I’m going on a 13-year world tour, and then we’ll see!


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