There is no changing Francis Joyon. Just a few months after his historic victory in the Jules Verne Trophy, the skipper of the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran is like a rookie, as he can’t wait to get out there in the Atlantic next Sunday, as he races against three of the fastest and biggest racing multihulls in the world. He clearly enjoyed this last week spent in Nantes, leaving his fellow crewmen free, while he ensured that the compulsory safety checks went well. Gwénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Audigane, Alex Pella, and the newcomers, Sébastien Picault and Quentin Ponroy will be alongside him on Thursday for the parade of the maxi trimarans to St-Nazaire. That is when the countdown really starts before they set off on Sunday at 1700hrs UTC for New York, in the reverse of the route taken by the American soldiers, who entered the First World War.
“We’re pleased to see the moment is drawing near,” said Francis Joyon looking ahead to the race and getting back with his crew aboard IDEC SPORT for this transatlantic sprint from east to west against the prevailing winds. And for something new this time as his race machine will be up against the world’s top racing multihulls. “I managed to get a close look at our opponents during this enjoyable stay in Nantes,” he added. “I really like the look of the Macif maxi trimaran with her fine lines and lightweight approach.” Being light is going to be one of the keys in winning on this route which is far from being a straight line and where the transition phases and light airs can be a problem for the heavy boats favouring the lighter ones with narrow hulls. “We’ll be setting sail in light mode,” Francis explained, “which has upset Alex, as we have taken off all our cooking utensils to save weight. So no paella between St-Nazaire and New York, but our 3000 daily calories will come from freeze-dried food.” With Bernard Stamm, who was in charge of supplies, it is Gwéno, who has found the light and efficient food for eight days.
On Thursday evening, Francis will be having an important phone call with Marcel van Triest, his weather advisor during the last Jules Verne Trophy. With routing forbidden in The Bridge, Francis will be getting the final info and analyses from the Dutch router before setting off on Sunday, after which he will have to rely on the weather info aboard. “We can expect to be tacking in westerly winds,” predicted Francis. “This won’t be a mad dash like in the Southern Ocean, but a question of strategy, flair and risk-taking…”
Alex Pella: “I’m really pleased to be back with Francis and the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran. I have so many great memories of this fantastic boat. We’ll be setting off on Sunday on a great race course, which is wide open and up against some tough opposition. IDEC SPORT does very well in strong winds and heavy seas. We don’t have a canting mast, unlike our rivals. It is clear that in light conditions we are in a weaker position.”