As we await the first day's racing, it's an ideal time to get the latest thoughts of Frédéric Le Peutrec, Gitana 11's skipper.
"These are very interesting waters… the more you explore them, the less you know them. Consequently, it's easy to be caught out by their effects. You have to be extremely careful and keep a continuous watch. Here, that's much more part of the game than in areas like Fécamp, for example. It's also the Mediterranean here, so things move a lot more, which ensures the competition stays very open."
“Wind, and strong wind too. Tomorrow, Friday, very strong, not to say too strong! It's going to remain strong on Saturday before becoming lighter on Sunday.
For us, this is quite a good thing, and from an entertainment point of view too. If there's wind… the boat goes well. It's a great leveller for the different boats, especially as we'll be on the open sea. It's going to be really spectacular!”
“There's genuine interest here, real enthusiasm on the part of the locals to discover these boats. It's true that 3 boats might not seem very many, but between the excitement that these trimarans always generate and the curiosity of the Sicilians I'm not at all worried. The important thing is that we hit it off together. And that has already happened! You only have to look at the resources deployed here… for example, a local TV station is promoting the event on a daily chat show, and members of the different teams keep popping up on it… As a result, we're being inundated with curious members of the public and people are taking a real interest.”
In sporting terms, how do the low numbers affect things on the water?
“It makes the combat more at close quarters, more intense. You sail using more tactics and less strategy. You sail from boat to boat, looking to keep in contact and to pose them problems. You keep them close to you rather than striking out all alone in a particular direction and risking everything. It's very interesting too, as the starts will be tight and highly tactical… the focus will be on the pure rules of sailing."
“Atmosphere is excellent, for example, we bumped the daggerboard against the rocks yesterday when returning to the port. The team are working on it now, but if it can't be repaired on time, Groupama has offered to lend us their spare daggerboard in the interests of putting on the best possible spectacle.”
“The strength of a crew is its cohesion and training. We can't be faulted on the first point, but unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to sail the boat a lot in its new configuration. But it's still a solid and effective team. A crew is put together for the long term, which is why we retained the lads from last season.”