Photo: Jorge Andreu

Barcelona World Race skippers gather for the first time

Two weeks to go now until the start of the doublehanded round the world race

Friday December 17th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

With less than two weeks to go prior to the start of the Barcelona World Race, so the crews gathered together today for the first time.

For some, such as 2007-8 Barcelona World Race winner Jean Pierre Dick (FRA), Alex Thomson (GBR) and Pachi Rivero (ESP) – the sole Spanish skipper soon to be setting out on his second Barcelona World Race, and even Loïck Peyron who was here 10 years ago for the start of The Race – it was a chance to meet up with old friends and colleagues, and to enjoy the pre-start buzz and hubbub. Others have been familiarising themselves with the Race Fleet Dock, and the massive 4500sqm Moll Barcelona World Race Expo for the first time.

Everyone loves their local heroes and several grew up, or live permanently in Barcelona such as Anna Corbella, sailing with Dee Caffari on GAES Centros Auditivos and who is set to become the first Spanish woman to sail non stop around the world, Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes on Estrella Damm, Jaume Mumbru who sails with long term Barcelona-based friend Cali Sanmarti on We Are Water, and eminent cardiologist Bruno Garcia who partners French skipper Jean Le Cam on President and Gerard Marin on FMC.

Pepe Ribes (ESP) of Estrella Damm commented: “We look at this round the world race with a lot of humility, because there are four almost new boats, and the best skippers in the history of IMOCA class, but we also have great ambitions to do our best, and we want to be competitive.”

Dee Caffari (GBR) of Gaes Centros Auditivos said: “I’m feeling good, feeling like we have done what I wanted to achieve, that is have all the stuff to do with the boat, has been dealt with. We are ready to go. And for Anna, all of this is quite new to her, so when the race village opens and we have all the other requirements of being a skipper, she can just be concentrating on that and not worried about the boat. The shore team seem calm and happy, which always gives me confidence.”

Hugo Boss' Alex Thomson (GBR) said: “The race is a much bigger deal than before, with more competitors and a higher standard, and it’s good to be back. We’ve had more time to prepare - last time we sailed 2,500 miles before the start, this time it’s been 15,000. We’ve had the boat in the water for a much longer time, done two Transatlantics, been to the Mediterranean twice, and been all the way through our process of breaking and fixing and breaking and fixing!”

Michele Paret (FRA), Mirabaud: “Dominique and I are always talking about the race, but it’s our passion so that’s easy. We need it and we’ve always done it that way. It’s a great advantage for us I think because we know each other very well, we are both confident in the other one and we have no frustrations, because we can talk about everything, so I think it’s much easier for us. I think some of these skippers wouldn’t want to go with their wives!”

Pachi Rivero (ESP), Renault Z.E. Sailing Team: “I’m coming back because I loved the first time and I have great memories – if this one is as good as the first I’ll do a third! The best thing about the race is actually doing it, sailing through all the oceans, going round Antarctica, and being able to sail in extreme conditions.”

Co-skipper ‘Talpi’, Antonio Piris (ESP), added: “I’ll miss a good bed, and a cold beer from time to time!”

Loick Peyron (FRA), Virbac-Paprec 3: “This will be my fifth time setting off around the world, and in fact it is 10 years to the day of the anniversary of The Race, the exact same course setting off from Barcelona. This time my position is quite different because I don’t have the pressure of being skipper. I’m very comfortable in this new position, and it makes it very easy to accept things. The only master on board, after God or Allah, is Jean-Pierre! That’s how it should be, as it is his ship, his team, and his future. We are going to have a democratic way of doing things on board, but it’s a natural process, we don’t have to plan.”

Jaume Mumbrü (ESP), We Are Water: “We have a sponsor which is a foundation started by the leading ceramics and bathroom company ROCA. They are very passionate about the awareness of water, the recycling of water, and the lack of water, so we’re not only sailing, we’re going to be carrying their message and values, which is just great. It gives us more energy – it’s not only like carrying a commercial name, although we would be happy to do that, it’s something of value. The foundation provides funds for all different programmes, so we’re going to be explaining that, raising funds and promoting it.”

Dominique Wavre (SUI) and Michèle Paret (FRA), who are making their return to the Barcelona World Race, will tomorrow celebrate their new partnership with Mirabaud with the boat’s official christening.

Immediately adjacent to the IMOCA Race Fleet Dock, is the huge Moll Barcelona World Race Expo which will be opened at 1300hrs tomorrow, Saturday 18 December, by the Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu. The mayor will meet the skippers and present them with their symbolic mooring lines, signifying the strong bond between them and the Catalan capital city, their Barcelona World Race flags. It will be the first time for the public to meet the skippers.

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