Sylvie Viant joins Global Ocean Race team

Venerable French race director to support Josh Hall

Friday November 5th 2010, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: Spain

Highly experienced offshore race management expert, Sylvie Viant, has joined the Global Ocean Race 2011-12 as a vital member of the Race Organisation team. Viant will be supporting the GOR Race Director, Josh Hall, with special responsibility for scrutineering the double-handed Class40 fleet throughout the circumnavigation and ensuring the safety of the teams offshore.

Viant brings valuable firsthand, offshore experience and an exceptional depth of knowledge to the GOR team: in 1973-74, she crewed in the Whitbread Round the World Race on board Grand Louis - skippered by her father – and later completed two legs in the 1981 edition of the event. While she has competed in numerous transatlantic, fully-crewed, monohull races, Viant is best known onshore for her tenure as Technical Manager of the French offshore racing authority UNCL during which she became an integral part of the race management team behind her country’s premier offshore events including the Route du Rhum; the Tour de France à la Voile; the Vendée Globe and the Transat Jacques Vabre. Her reputation and skill has crossed the English Channel where Viant was Race Director for the British-run 2004 Transat and the 2008 Artemis Transat and she has also worked in Spain for the 2007-08 Barcelona World Race. Currently, Viant is part of the 12-strong FFVoile team on the Race Committee of the single-handed Route du Rhum–La Banque Postale.

During the GOR, Sylvie Viant will take the role of Co-Race Director with responsibility for overall crew safety and scrutineering the Class40 fleet pre-start in Mallorca next September, ensuring each boat complies with the race rules, carries the correct safety gear and meets the stringent Category 0 offshore regulations. Viant and her team will also visit each of the four stopover ports (Cape Town, South Africa; Wellington, New Zealand; Punta del Este, Uruguay and Charleston, South Carolina. While the yachts are at sea, Viant and Hall will lead a team that provides essential 24-hour fleet monitoring via the OCTracker Yellowbrick satellite transmitters supplied by GOR Race Partner, OC Technology, and fitted to each boat. The team will also be on call to advise the crews over any issues or concerns.

For Viant, the size of the GOR fleet will require extra staff pre-start in Mallorca. “With 25 boats, there will need to be five or six people to control and check the boats before the start,” she explains. The task for Viant and her team is time consuming and requires meticulous attention to detail despite the relative simplicity of Class40 yachts and every technicality of the boats will be inspected from the condition of each life raft to the sail inventory. In the stopovers, any major or structural repairs will be inspected, but thorough checks will also be made: “We’ll only need three people during the race to run spot-checks and monitor the most important features on the boats,” Viant continues. It is also an opportunity for her to circle the world with a race fleet for the first time since the early 1980’s: “It’s going to be a bit like the old Whitbread I raced in,” she says.

Viant is also a supporter of the rapidly expanding Class40 Association and the GOR: “I really like Class40,” she confirms. “The class is a mixture of professionals and amateurs, which provides exciting racing for the teams and for spectators. There are some crews doing the Global Ocean Race for pleasure and for the experience of racing around the world; not for the glory or the money that victory can bring, and I think this makes a really big difference to the atmosphere and appeal of a race.”

For Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, Sylvie Viant’s appointment is of vital importance: “Sylvie is one of the most highly respected race officials in the world and we are all absolutely delighted that she has agreed to join us as Co-Race Director,” says Hall. “I have greatly admired her skills and character throughout my own career and it has been a long-held ambition to have her involved in the GOR."

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