In this 2013 edition, as is regularly the case for the multihulls as a safety precaution, routing is permitted for the Multi70 and Multi50 trimarans. In double-handed configuration it has proven to be impossible to spend several hours at the chart table dissecting the grib files when you’re powering along at speeds, which are often in excess of 25/30 knots.
“The person who isn’t on watch at the helm has to focus on getting his strength back, eating and getting the minimum amount of sleep. As such the time devoted to strategy has to be as optimised as possible,” explains Antoine, who began his career in the Figaro circuit back in 1999 with Sébastien and Charles in Port-La-Forêt. “The work Jean-Yves and I do consists of overlapping all the data we have access to (over 15 files a day with all the combined sources) so as to propose different trajectories. After that it’s down to the crew, who makes a decision according to what it is experiencing at sea.”
Teammates on shore
Antoine has been a skipper of an Imoca monohull and an Orma trimaran. He has competed in the Transat Jacques Vabre three times and in the Route du Rhum twice. He has also been crewing for Sébastien Josse for the past three years aboard the boats fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and has notably contested one transatlantic race and two European tours. He has also worked for nearly 10 years with the “sorcerer” Bernot and supports him when he routes racers in different events. As such this supreme ‘dream team’ will perform an analysis role as well as assisting with the decision-making for Sébastien and Charles.
“Jean-Yves has a great wealth of expertise with regard the weather along the course, which is similar to that of the round the world start phases,” Antoine explains. “He’ll be able to propose a general strategy whilst my sailing experience means that I can look at the detail so as to refine the sail choices and adapt the pace that needs to be maintained by giving them limits. As such we complement each other very well.” For two weeks, these teammates back on shore will live their lives at the pace of the race and the boat, keeping watch 24/7. “We have shared work phases and then we keep watch and sleep in turn for the rest of the time,” Antoine concludes, as he prepares to take up quarters in Jean-Yves Bernot’s office in La Rochelle shortly before the start.
A far cry from remote piloting
Sébastien and Charles are very familiar with the course, having followed it in various races, especially the Volvo Ocean Race and the Vendée Globe. Enthusiasts of the weather and offshore strategies and even routers themselves at times, they will be able to fully appreciate and utilise the information sent by their analysts so as they can get the very most from their boat. “I wouldn’t be able to blindly follow instructions from a team back on shore,” Sébastien admits. “On the one hand it wouldn’t be reasonable as Charles and I are best placed to decide what appears to us to be realistic and relevant according to the weather conditions, as well as the physical shape we’re in. Added to that, strategic consideration is part of what we like about our job. The on-going game of chess spices up our lives as sailors and drives our actions. In this way, routing enables Charles and I to continue calling tactics without cutting back on safety.”