The Bermuda 1000 race in Brest
4th in his first singles race at Imoca, that’s not bad…
I am very happy for a lot of reasons: It was my first singles race at Imoca. After which she left without any athletic ambition. In fact, we always try our best but the context means that I got to the project only four weeks ago. The boat was handled in a straightforward manner. When the team initially left the boat, Ronan (Lucas, Banque Populaire’s technical director) told me, “Go at your own pace. No pressure. Do your race.” There was no problem in terms of the result. So of course, it’s great to be fourth. I had a great time and didn’t do much hurt or break a lot of things on the boat. So, everything is fine.
On top of a boat with straight stilettos, you end up in the middle of the metallic panels: What’s the key?
When I got off to a good start, it allowed me to be in the right car, and out of the fleet. And on the first night I got ahead so that helped me a lot. Inevitably, there are boats faster than mine (Finot-Conq from 2008) that come back on me and outrun me. Some of them I was able to replicate later by making small investments and small moves. I try to focus on using my boat. Since there were no technical issues, I was always able to use the boat to 100% of its potential or close to it. In the end, circumstances worked a bit in my favour. There was not much wind and the wind was against the wind.
I’ve sailed quite a bit on board but, a priori, found the joysticks already?
There is no doubt that there is a way I can do a better job than what I have done in terms of using the boat. There, I remained voluntarily, in all frank preparations, in simplicity and efficiency. That’s what I also did in this race. Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. It’s been a long time since I did solitaire. It was in Figaro and the last solitaire game was in 2017…so it’s been five years! Since then, I’ve never raced solo again. I did double and a lot of Imoca. But on its own, it’s something else again.
Charlie Dallen spoke of the Figaro School, that it was the best even for a solo group at Imoca: Is that your opinion?
I am still convinced that this support, and it is one design, not only abroad but also on tours of Brittany, solos in Le Havre: when 30 or 40 boats sail there, you cannot find a better school. You have no excuse to say this thing has chips like this and you have daggers boards like that… Everyone has the same boat and fleet is dense. There, I make little mistakes – I won’t tell you which ones (laughs) – but they don’t show up much. Since there is a gap, you lose a little but it doesn’t matter that you tell yourself it won’t be seen very often. In Figaro you lose five places!
I got 4th place but 3rd place wasn’t too far away…
(laughs) I’m four but when we were going round Cape Finisterre, I was six and I couldn’t imagine being able to catch the two boats in front. Already in fourth place: it was unexpected! So don’t ask me if it’s the third… It’s true that as long as you don’t finish first you can always do better, but honestly with the boat and the preparations you’ve made, it’s not bad! Don’t be too ambitious.
Do you still leave Isabel Joschke and Benjamin Dutro, who have sailed on frustration, behind?
The context was fine for me with the weather conditions. But this morning (Saturday morning), I thought they would repeat me. When the wind caught, I told myself they would walk much faster. But I made a huge difference on Friday evening and during the night. Benjamin shot in front of us. I didn’t know if he was right or not. I continued with Isabelle and went further than her. And there, when I saw what I was gaining from it, I began to say to myself ‘Little Benjamin’, I think it would be good for me. I still doubt he can still make it back because his boat is moving faster under certain conditions. They’re back…but not enough.
I can’t wait for the next time…