Loïck Peyron Interview
The trimaran Gitana 12 left the port of Trinité sur Mer yesterday morning bound for Saint-Malo, while Gitana 11 will set sail this morning, Thursday 19 October. For Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Lionel Lemonchois, this will be the final leg of their preparations and a chance to get some last sailing practice under their belts before the start, on 29 October, of the eighth edition of the transatlantic solo race, the Route du Rhum / La Banque Postale.
Loick Peyron, Gitana Team general manager, 6 participations in the Route du Rhum:

How are the preparations going? “For a solo race, the key is always reliability rather than out-and-out speed. The idea is to have as few choices as possible in order to limit the problems and questions. While the two skippers were on “survival” training, I went out with the technical team on each of the trimarans to double-check the boats' nerve centres, so as to have an external view of their preparation and reliability. We've also done a lot of work on the onboard equipment, like the battens, blocks, tool case, etc., also in order to reduce the degree of choice. It's essential to alternate major solo forays with short outings, in order to perform manoeuvres, test the equipment, experience situations to which you have to react, and acquire more reflexes. And there's no denying that today's solo sailors have done a lot more sailing in Route du Rhum configuration than for previous editions. Thierry, who was a solo novice, had to go out for longer in order to get a grasp of the sleep management and acquire a rhythm, as it was a steep learning curve for him…”

How will you track the race? “Our way of functioning with two skippers at sea (Lionel Lemonchois and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent), myself a former sailor now on land (Loick Peyron) and an extensive technical team, is really enjoyable as we don't have the same baggage or the same approach. This allows problems to be dealt with which would have been omitted or ignored. So the soloists will be very well assisted on land, with a weather assistant (Sylvain Mondon from Météo France) supported by one “Sherpa” for each boat (Mayeul Riffet for Gitana 12 and Yann Guichard for Gitana 11), and myself as strategic supervisor. We will receive all the logs from the two Gitanas, every half-hour, complete with speed, course, atmospheric pressure, etc… So we'll have a tactical vision for each of the Gitanas and an overview of the fleet of trimarans.”

What are the keys to sailing solo? “It's all about the ability to keep going fast while doing the work of a crew. So it's essential to be right on the ball in terms of the settings and the operation of the automatic pilot. That's the key to the sleep cycle, avoiding fatigue, and maintaining reactivity… The solo settings are more difficult because they're “unnatural,” less high-performance, but safer. Where the land-sea relationship is concerned, the solo sailor is up to date with the information arriving from the land, but it's important to learn to filter it, manage it and especially put it into perspective so as not to be swamped by it and maintain a general strategy that might well evolve, but only if really necessary. It is important not to call it into question at every check-in. It's difficult to avoid cutting off the torrent of e-mails which tend to regulate the day, as learning to detach oneself from the land information and the other competitors is a big advantage...”

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