Sailing double-handed or the art of hitting it off
This Sunday at 12:30GMT, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier will take the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre: 5,400 nautical miles, or 10,000km, bound for Itajai in Brazil. Created in 1993, the race is contested every two years and is none other than the reference double-handed offshore event and the longest of the transatlantic races. To stand a chance of scoring a win, the twenty duos competing in the Imoca class will have to be all-rounders: capable of controlling their steed, refining their strategy, apprehending the weather to find the shortest route and of course finding the essential alchemy that works for them.
In the Edmond de Rothschild duo,Charles Caudrelier is the co-skipper selected by Sébastien Josse to once again accompany him across the Atlantic Ocean. The two men are setting sail together for the second time, a fact that is sufficiently rare in this race that it warrants highlighting. Winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, the Volvo Ocean Race and also the double champion of the Transat Jacques Vabre, the 41-year old Breton is a mainstay of French and international offshore racing and a prime travelling companion! Just back from the Volvo Ocean Race, where he led Dongfeng Race Team onto the 3rd step of the podium in the 2014-2015 edition, Charles Caudrelier is making the switch from crewed to double-handed configuration with ease. He shares his views on sailing as a duo.
Alternately sailing solo
Double-handed configuration is part-time solo sailing without the drawbacks. It's a rich experience as there is a sharing of experience and it's also reassuring, when there are moments of doubt and tough times, that you can collate your viewpoints. In addition to the sporting and technical aspects, I really like sailing double-handed as it's a human story, a story about a couple in fact! I couldn't set sail with a sailor I didn't like.
Respect and trust
Osmosis and understanding are essential to me for a pairing to work. In crewed configuration, you need to compromise with several people, but it is possible to get by without having a real affinity for everyone aboard. In double-handed configuration, there are just the two of us and you have to get along to go all the way together. In that regard, trust is paramount. I know that for 50% of the time, it's Sébastien who will have my back and I'm confident about that. Knowing he's on deck I can sleep soundly. We are humans so we do make mistakes. At some point in the race, we'll make some, we'll lose ground on our rivals after a poor choice of route or sail
but as a couple, you have to be able to excuse these mistakes so you can move forward.
2013 was a real honeymoon period! It was our first double-handed transatlantic in a multihull and we were really happy to have the chance to discover that world and set sail on such a machine. We sailed a good race and we won it Everything ran like clockwork. This year, the line-up is top notch and among our nineteen rivals, I reckon nearly half stand a chance of scoring a bullet. It's sure to be a tougher ride than it was two years ago, but it's in those moments that we'll see if we're a solid couple.