6,000 miles of training for Marc Guillemot
With seven months to go to the start of the Vendée Globe, Safran skipper Marc Guillemot has revealed an intense preparation schedule for between now and July, alternating crewed races and long periods of solo sailing. In the next four months, Safran will be covering more than 6000 miles, the equivalent of two transatlantic races.
With the (initial_ cancellation of the Europa Race, Guillemot was forced to change his programme.
Following on from his victory in the Open 7.50 class at Spi Ouest-France Intermarché, Guillemot will be setting off on 500 miles of what will essentially be solo sailing. He will be accompanied by Pierre Bourcier, who will not be taking part in manoeuvres or sailing the boat, but will be on board to check over the most recent changes to the instruments and autopilot system.
After that, Guillemot will be sailing 1,000 miles solo. Then it will be time for the fully crewed Guyader Grand Prix, which takes place in Douarnenez over 28 April until 6 May.
On 17 May, there is the start of the ArMen Race place and just after that, from late May, the crew of Safran will be on stand-by to try to improve on their own record around Great Britain and Ireland.
In June, Marc Guillemot will set off again to sail more than 2,000 miles alone, from her homeport of La Trinité to Azores around the Fastnet Rock before returning to La Trinité, (around 7 or 8 days at sea).
In July, another singlehanded trip of around 1,000 miles is planned before the boat is taken out of the water in late July for a final short refit prior to the start of the Vendee Globe.
In all, this comes to more than 6,000 miles (more than 11,000 km) for Safran or the equivalent of two transatlantic races.
“As soon as the Europa Race was cancelled, we had to act quickly and come up with the most intelligent way of preparing, the one that suits me best," explains Guillemot. "I am one of those people, who believe that a transatlantic crossing in the spring is missing from the IMOCA programme. In any case, I need to do a lot of sailing to be able to feel confident at the start of the Vendée Globe in seven months from now. That is why I drew up this programme including 6,000 miles of solo sailing between April and July. In fact, I’m not counting the miles, but rather the number of days spent at sea, alone on board. When I’m on the boat, I take it as seriously as I can to reach the boat’s polars because sailing thousands of miles at slow speed with three reefs in the mainsail would be a complete waste of time. That’s what I am like, and there’s no secret about it. You have to sail again and again to perform well, to be at harmony with the boat and the elements. For me, in any case, it’s something that is essential.”
Part of the strategy is to switch between solo and crewed sailing. “This mixture makes it interesting," Guillemot continues. "Particularly as when sailing with a crew, you really push the boat hard. That gives us a greater chance of identifying any little details that need to be sorted out, but also enables us to make adjustments and make sure that everything comes naturally. These are things that are extremely useful afterwards: I can remember them, when I’m sailing solo. The Douarnenez Grand Prix, the ArMen Race and the Round Britain and Ireland record also contribute to that. So without the Europa Race, we shall nevertheless be doing some crewed sailing and in race conditions. In Douarnenez the programme has been extended in fact: we shall be sailing for a whole week instead of just a weekend, as was initially planned. For the Round Britain and Ireland record, we know we can improve on our record time and we shall certainly go for it, if the weather is with us.”
Crew has been chosen with individual abilities that can contribute to the campaign. “Above all, we are looking at crew, who are talented, can easily adapt and with whom I enjoy sailing… and that’s a very important aspect. In fact there is just one change from the crew we had last year: Yann Eliès has other projects and so Pascal Bidégorry is joining us. He is someone, who is very attentive to trimming, tactics, navigation… he is excellent at getting the most out a boat. César Dohy is the boat’s sailmaker, which is very useful too, as is Sébastien Audigane – a very good helmsman, but someone, who can take up any role on board. Loïc Lingois and Alex Marmorat know Safran perfectly and the modifications that have been made. I should stress that the Vendée Globe is a solo race, but is the result of a genuine team effort. They will be alongside me on 10 November in Les Sables d’Olonne and it is also thanks to them that I shall be able to set off around the world.”