French  |  expedition  |  crew  |  boat  |  crossing  |  contact   |  guestbook   |  Spanish

sans boussole
Emmanuel et Maximilien BERQUE
The crew
Twin brothers...
Choice of life...
Instigating journeys...
The book "Les mutins de la mer"...
The film continues...
 Twin brothers...

Emmanuel and Maximilien BERQUE are twins. Born the 10th of January 1950 in Casablanca, five minutes apart. They spent the first 3 years of their lives in the mountains of the morocain atlas, then 2 years in Egypt and 2 years in Lebenon. Very early on they showed they were different from their four older brothers and sisters (1 brother 3 sisters) because they are the latest additions, the twins, and at only 5 years old they escape for their first adventure to mount Liban.

Emmanuel et Maximilien BERQUE, frères Jumeaux
In 1957 at 7 years old they return to Paris as their father Jacques BERQUE is named professor at the College of France, on the chair of contemporian Islam. They have a lot of difficulty integrating their class at Michelet High School where they are the odd ones out, always the best at gymnastics, drawing and music but dunces in their others subjects, so much so their parents have them pass intelligence tests with a specialist in recalcitrant twins, the professor Zazzo. Their parents end up separating them by putting them in two different years during their secondary studies and they end up in a college run by Priests.

Before long the results came and all of a sudden they were high level students obtaining many rewards, mainly in Mathematics and Physics that they loved, maybe a reaction against their father and brother or sisters, to their taste, too literary.

At the age of 12 they developed an interest in photography and had a real passion already for the design and construction of boat and plane prototypes.

Emmanuel et Maximilien BERQUE, frères jumeaux
In 1968 and 69 they successfully and easily pass their secondary exams in science. Maximilien goes into Superior Mathematics, then at the school Louis Lumière in Vaugirard street studies cinema while Emmanuel continues science at the university of Orsay before continuing in Oenology in Bordeaux.

 Top ]

 Choice of life...

A rapid decrease of interest in their studies become apparent as their thirst of the liberty to travel and surf grew. Surf, that they discovered in 1964 and are the pioneers at the small paradisiac beach of Contis in les Landes (south-west France) where their family has an ancestral house. This allows them to devote themselves to the joys of the Sea-Sex-and-Surf movement, just like the Californian hippies. Whereas Maximilien works on television reporting, Emmanuel becomes an oenologue in Corsica.

Emmanuel BERQUE en long board
Later on Maximilien becomes a professional deep sea diver for COMEX in the north sea. He was selected for the world record Janus IV at 510 meters but left the company in 1976 disliking the idea of "human guinea pigs".

The two brothers subsequently discover the, (at that time new) practice of sport catamaran sailing and continued surfing most of the time. One day they decide to try and make their fortune in Saudi Arabia by leaving from Marseille with a friends’ sailing boat for Djedda. To make this possible they learn astronomical navigation over a few weeks and become rather obsessed by it. Unfortunately the voyage has a tragic ending when the boat is destroyed during a cyclone in the Red Sea

Once again in France, they resume surfing and become in 1978 the first photographer journalists in this speciality in France, revealing their beach-boy adventures.

However this is not enough for them. In 1979, to make a film, they attempt to gain sponsorship for the first crossing of the Atlantic with a Hobie-Cat 18, eight years before Laurent Bourgnon managed to do it.

Maximilien BERQUE aux Cavaliers
Unfortunately, the American manufacturer refused to lend them the boat reasoning that it was too risky.

Consequently the idea would never leave them.

Liberty and wave waiting, not being big bread winners, pushed them into a life of surfing hermits until 1983. To rise from their misery they decide to make a film. A film of adventure, of a real adventure. They who had never been to America, decide to cross the ocean on an unreasonable contraption. The ocean would be the scenery, the film in real time would be a «Happening».

 Top ]

 Instigating journeys...

So they build a small 4m80 trimaran, traced by eye, without a plan diagonally across the entrance of their old house and call it Micromegas in reference to Voltaire and his theory: the relativity of everything in existence.

They do four instigating journeys and end up spending over a year in the elements at 25cm from the water on the 8m2 net of this very small boat which has no cabin for shelter and looks more like a raft.

Imprisoned in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, they surfed 8m waves and came back completely burnt by four days spent in the salty sea water. They make a short film that they never managed to sell.

With a girlfriend from Berlin they arrive in the Canary Islands, very thinned down and completely broke.

For a few years they abandon the idea of crossing the ocean and spend a couple of winters in Berlin rebuilding their spiritual and financial health and of course to spend the summer surfing.

 See movie extract

 Top ]

 The mutineers of the sea...

During the winter they worked a lot on analytical geometrics and conceive a totally original and personal boat design program. They go back to the manufacturing of surfboards and with their freshly recuperated motivation undertake the conception and construction of another and even smaller boat of 4m made of varnished wood equipped with ancient rigging…the Micromegas 2.

It’s a genuine toy !

In June 1995, after 37 days on their minute boat they reach Guadeloupe. They gain a certain success with the media and sell 13 pages in VSD (a weekly news magazine) and a documentary of their Atlantic crossing in 37 days entitled “ Les jumeaux de la mer” (“The twins of the ocean”) (CAPA agency) broadcasted on Canal+. They appear in the Guinness Book of Records and received numerous adventure awards including the one from the festival of Dijon, presented by “ The Guild of Raid and Adventure”. A prize also from The Festival of Adventure of Angles. Guy Drut, at that time the French Minister of Youth and Sport decorated them with a medal for their performance.

Micromégas 2
In 1996 they continue and finally arrive in Miami, Florida. Considering they left from their south-western French beach, Contis, the journey represents 11000Km. The whole voyage without motor, any electronics, life raft or distress beacon. The smallest sailing boat in the history of the Atlantic to succeed in this crossing without any assistance and without sponsors. In spite of the purity of their efforts the media, nevertheless lose interest and once arrived in the USA, broke and in total anonymity they abandon their boat against a quay. Working on some millionaires’ yachts they manage to pay their airfares and return to France in incomprehension and paranoia.

They insist a great deal on the fact that their sailing boat is a real vessel opposed to a lot of floating apparatus exclusively consecrated to breaking records, incapable of manoeuvring, entering or exiting a port.

In 2001 they publish with the editor Robert Laffont «Les mutins de la mer» (Mutineers of the sea).

They describe it as: «The tribulations of two non-conformists searching for freedom, if it excists.»

The book reads like a novel…
 Read more ]

But the film, not yet mounted, continues…

Les mutins de la mer

 Top ]

 The film continues...

With the royalties from their book they design and make [  Micromegas 3 ] in their attic. A small 300 Kg varnished wooden outrigger canoe with which they will once again cross the ocean, only this time without any instruments aboard! Meaning no compass, no watches or maps or any documents and of course no sextant. This means apart from food and water…nothing!

So in this way at 53 years old they want to try a truly archaic crossing, like the Maoris crossing the Pacific around the 5th century well before the Viking, Arab or any other navigators. For the love of the art of navigation, the purity of fraud less individual achievement, to return with beautiful images and a film, live something unique.

If we ask them why they do it they simply reply: «It’s stronger than us !»

 Top ]

sans boussole
Concept : Accord des Mondes

© 2005 Emmanuel & Maximilien BERQUE