Sailing the monster cat

One of Alinghi 5's helmsmen, Loick Peyron, tells us what it is like
After years at the front of the ORMA 60 fleet, 2009 has been a rare year when Loick Peyron hasn’t raced some form of hair-raising boat across the Atlantic. Since being forced to bail out of the Vendee Globe when his Gitana 80 dismasted almost a year ago, Peyron has left Baron Rothschild’s Gitana team and has spent this season helming the Renaissance catamaran for Oman Sail on the iShares Cup circuit, while continuing to sail with Nicolas Grange’s D35 team on Lake Geneva. However Peyron’s big gig at the moment is his role as one of the helmsmen on Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi 5 and he is currently out in RAK with the Swiss team. Hand in hand with working up their radical 115ish ft long monster catamaran, they have been trying to work on the best crew combinations. When it comes to helming Alinghi 5, they typically have two helmsmen on the boat at any one time, Peyron sharing these duties with Bertarelli and Alain Gautier. Alinghi 5 is around 80ft wide, which represents a lengthy bounce across the trampoline between the steering cockpit in each hull and so it is necessary to have a permanent shot gun helmsman, ready in the leeward cockpit prior to manoeuvres. "On a cat which is quite wide, you have to have two people steering," says Peyron. "For each tack and gybe, you have to be steering while the helmsman is crossing the netting. You have to tack well and get flying again as soon as you can.” He confides that at the very beginning of their training in Genoa they even tried having a different helmsman on each tack, to avoid the crossing of the net. So come the America’s Cup who will be helming? The million dollar question. "I don’t know, I