52-year-old Olivier Wroczynski is a genius at mechanics, embedded electronics, and a whole host of other things. Let's take a quick look at the career path of this sailor in a million born to parents of Polish and Armenian stock. It all began 52 years ago, when his civil servant father grasped his best pen with his tongue between his teeth, carefully dotting all the I's and crossing the T's in order to correctly set down the family name of little Oliver when the Wroczynski parents came to register his birth at Stains town hall: “That's right! I was born in the suburbs. 93 hadn't been invented yet!” Olivier jokes. Presumably for the sake of convenience and so as not to have to get the tongue round the name Wroczynski, he has always been known to everyone simply as “Zolive”, and that's how it's been for the last 25 years on the decks of all vessels, Breton or otherwise.
While he is the most charming and gentlest chap you could ever hope to meet, he is also a man who has never lost sight of his childhood dream: “to go to the moon”. Realising that space travel might have to wait a bit, the prudent Zolive started off sailing on Enghien lake, whereupon the attractions of these trimarans with engines like catapults took hold. But "Zolive" has not given up on his great intergalactic adventure. It's a genuine ambition, make no mistake about it, but he's nevertheless a fellow blessed with plenty of good sense and a powerful mind. First and foremost, however, he's a man who never stays in one place for long.
That's not to suggest that Olivier is a disruptive character. Far from it. He's actually a soothing presence who would have loved to have sailed on Noah's Ark or climbed the Tower of Babel to take exact measurements, as this is a man who is obsessed with accuracy. Within the Gitana ranks, Zolive is an ingenious, lively, efficient and incredibly friendly character, who is always receptive to new ideas. "At first, I became a crewman to learn. 25 years ago, the multihulls were always looking for technical bods like me… But I'm too old to sail now. I prefer to stop before I do myself an injury," he insists with a tinge of sadness. Zolive has around twenty Atlantic crossing under his belt. He has been a skipper in the Antilles and a sailing instructor, as well as spending a stint teaching on the ski slopes. He has an electronics diploma and also a light aircraft pilot's licence, which he once put to god use by flying advertising banners over the beaches of Var. Twenty years on, he retains a happy memory of these “commercial flights”.
Then one day, Zolive bumped into Laurent Bourgnon: "He asked me if I fancied forming a team, and I thought why not." He stayed with Bourgnon for five years, before working for 5 years on the hydrofoil. He then set up on his own account but like all good geniuses, became frustrated with the paperwork and red tape. Since 2002, he has been part of the Gitana fold, and it's as if he's always been there. Zolive is an expert in the art of tinkering and often has to be literally dragged off the deck of Gitana, as he protests that he hasn't finished his work. With his wild hair, English sense of humour and Parisian accent, Zolive looks every inch the mad scientist. He guides a motorised launch like an airbus between the Grand Prix stages, so skilfully that there's no chance of missing it. You might even say, without risk of hurting his feelings, that Zolive is the memory of ocean-bound trimarans. One day, he really should commit all his anecdotes and sailing tips to paper. Now there would be a book that would really fly off the shelves.
Jean-Louis Le Touzet.