The Swatch Eye

Destination Antarctica

Xavier De Le Rue Occupation: Explo — Rider

November 15, 2013
Last winter, the French snowboarding ace sailed to the Antarctic with US rider Lucas Debari. They set off in their steel-hulled sailing boat, the Golden Fleece, to conquer some of the last continent’s most remote spots. The aim of this icy adventure was to ride extreme slopes, take some stunning pictures and shoot a film called „Mission Antarctic“*. This expedition was a project of The North Face in partnership with Swatch, and was one of the high points of his career. Xavier answered The Swatch Eye‘s questions before training for his ultimate challenge as a competitor : the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
PO The Antarctic wasn’t, strictly speaking, a new experience for you, was it ? You’d already been there in 2009, with the American snowboarder Jeremy Jones…


XDLR  During that trip, we’d travelled on a big cruise ship to film on the Antarctic Peninsula in the north-west of the continent. That was four years ago now. Everything blew me away : the incredible scenery, the smooth ocean, all in shades of colours, interspersed with gigantic icebergs, huge walls of ice rising more than fifty metres out of the water. I’d never seen anything like it… I’d actually just come back from Greenland, a trip that had already left a strong impression on me, but the Antarctic took it up another notch.

Photography Tero Repo

After that, all I could think about was going back, but on a much smaller boat, about twenty metres long. And this last trip confirmed my first impressions, raising the bar even higher.


PO Who were your travel companions ?


XDLR There were ten of us on board. We were lucky to have an exceptional captain, Jerome Poncet, who was the first person to explore this continent on a small boat. He knows Antarctica like the back of his hand, has sailed there over a hundred times and has been exploring its waters for thirty years.


And his partner made us delicious reindeer meals, which the couple hunt themselves! The filming team was the same as for my first trip, with Christophe Blanc-Gras as pilot, which enabled Tero Repo, my photographer, to get some amazing aerial shots. The climber Tony Lamiche was with us as well, as our guide and to provide support with the images. And my snowboarding companion was Lucas Debari, who I’ve been to Alaska and Japan with too.


PO It sounds like it was quite an adventure just to get there ! Can you tell us a bit more about it ?



XDLR From France, we first flew to Santiago, Chile. Two days later, we took another flight to the Falklands, where we boarded the boat. I’d already been very seasick on the first trip, but this time I thought I was going to die, as did my fellow travellers… We hit a storm that lasted five days and had us flipping around like pancakes ! The boat was only travelling at two miles an hour because of the sixty mile-an-hour headwind. I literally couldn’t move. To give you an idea, I couldn’t even get my iPod, although all I had to do was stretch out my arm to take it out of the drawer ! It was a nightmare ! Thankfully, the boat is designed to withstand very rough seas, because we had ten-metre-deep troughs…

Special Content




The Swatch Eye newspaper reflects the everyday life of Swatch.


Olaf Hajek

With his athletic build and the poetry of his dreamlike images, Olaf Hajek immediately com...

July 14, 2014 Read more

Dreaming With Open Eyes

Blue and pink neon lights against white walls give the large room an eerie glow, while a m...

December 1, 2014 Read more

Pilgrimage to style and sucess

From winning his first contest as a 14 year-old schoolboy to being one of mountain biking’...

July 14, 2014 Read more


All across the surfing world, certain locations have achieved legendary status as epicentr...

December 1, 2014 Read more

The Loop Premiere

Creativity, timing and nerves of steel were called for at the Swatch Prime Line competitio...

December 1, 2014 Read more

Alexander Gorlizki

Demonstrating cross-cultural dialogue and a confluence of worlds both real and imagined, A...

December 1, 2014 Read more

Why Bother?

The power of the voice isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind when watching the world’s ...

December 1, 2014 Read more

Time For A Peak Experience

This year, climbers who set off to tackle the 4,478-metre-high Matterhorn spent the night ...

December 1, 2014 Read more

The Talent Scout

Every summer, fashion fairy godmother Barbara Franchin’s festival of new style, talent and...

July 14, 2014 Read more

Swatch & Vogue Italia

Swatch and Vogue Italia face time together and look towards the future of design....

July 14, 2014 Read more

Through the Eyes of Five Members

The winners of the Swatch Club VIP event in Courmayeur (Italy) answer some timely question...

July 14, 2014 Read more

Swatch Facing_Time

It was not easy. But it was a lot of fun. Here is our choice of 15 visuals and 5 videos, w...

April 4, 2014 Read more

La Biennale di Venezia

Sheltered by the twists and turns of its narrow streets and canals, few cities can offer t...

November 15, 2013 Read more

Destination Antarctica

Last winter, the French snowboarding ace sailed to the Antarctic with US rider Lucas Debar...

November 15, 2013 Read more

Total Food Weirdness

Cooking and creativity go hand in hand — but what we eat has started to leave the buffet t...

November 15, 2013 Read more

The 27th Hour

Did you know there are 27 hours in a day ? This is the time a man needs to realise what a ...

November 15, 2013 Read more


This year, both Swatch and Mika turned 30. As part of a thoroughly post-modern joint celeb...

November 15, 2013 Read more

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel

For the past twenty years Shanghai has been pursuing an urban regeneration program of unri...

April 1, 2013 Read more