Yvan Zedda / Foncia

Foncia prepares for the Barcelona World Race

Michel Desjoyaux and Francois Gabart getting up to speed

Wednesday December 15th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

On 9 December, Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart arrived in Barcelona and have since been carrying out a series of doublehanded sea trials aboard Foncia in the build-up to the start of the Barcelona World Race.

Scrutineering: tick

Since the Route du Rhum finish, the whole Foncia team has leapt into action again. Delivered via cargo ship from Martinique, the white IMOCA 60 arrived in Barcelona on 29 November. She then passed scrutineering with flying colours and was relaunched on 10 December. Immediately Desjoyeaux and Gabart embarked on a series of day sails and an overnight in breezy conditions around Cape Creus, 100 miles away.

Between now and the start of the Barcelona World Race on 31 December 2010, they have decided to concentrate on some training in situ. Gabart as only sailed for a short time on board the boat in which he intends to complete his first circumnavigation of the globe and the two men need to make sure things are synchronised between them. “The aim is to double my time on the water in Barcelona, but that won’t be very hard!” he admits.

Task sharing

Between the various requirements imposed by the organisation (safety tests, briefings, etc.), the co-skippers are also working on the organisation aboard the boat. They’ve set up a three hour watch system, which can be adjusted according to the weather conditions and the requirement to helm. This system will take into account that double-handed they’ll spend 50-70% of their time on the helm, compared with typically 15% on a Vendée Globe.

In terms of dividing up responsibilities, this will follow a logical pattern: Dejsoyeaux, who knows his boat very well, will be in charge of the technical side and the boat checks, while Gabart will focus on the electronics. 95% of manœuvres will be performed together and the strategic decisions will be democratic.

With less than three weeks until the start of the Barcelona World Race, Gabart is also discovering the intensity of the days preceding a race. However he recognises the need to get into a rhythm, such as his sleep pattern for example and to ensure he has a few calm moments to refocus himself. Just a few days ago, the 27 year old announced the construction of a new Open 60 footer (sistership to Foncia) for an IMOCA campaign stretching through until 2014… so he has plenty to keep his mind occupied at the moment. For his part, Desjoyeaux is familiar with the pressure inherent in the pre-start of big races and knows just how to prepare himself.

“We’re going to try to go out on the water every weekday, whilst setting some time aside for the boat preparation," says Desjoyeaux. "We need it and it will also help towards our physical preparation. The more time we get to sail between now and the start, the better. This is especially true given that we’ll be spending a lot of time together on deck at the start of the race. The Mediterranean is always special and there are often a lot of manœuvres to perform with little rest.”

Gabart adds: “During this pre-start phase I know that Michel is already deeply involved in everything. For my part, I also need to have a bit of time to myself, to go running for example. It’s important on a mental and physical level to be able to focus on the race, without being caught up by any outside constraints… I’m just getting my head around the fact that in three weeks I’ll be setting off on a circumnavigation of the globe, and that it’s no mean feat…”

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