Today saw the final major media gathering prior to the race start on Wednesday 31 December at 1300 hours. The skippers attended a Q&A session with journalists from all over Europe. For some, it was a prerequisite before returning to put the final touches to a preparation that has been affected by the weather at times. For other, it was an opportunity to show that they had little else to attend to before casting off. Whatever the situation, all of them attentively played the game in the Q&A session with an element of humour thrown in on occasion. What became evident was that the skippers may be heading off on a circumnavigation of the globe, knowing that they’re going to confront the southern ocean at the end of the austral summer, but they’re no less sensitive to the quality of the welcome they’ve received in Barcelona and they made it known just how much they appreciate the public support. The positioning of the Barcelona World Race pontoon at the foot of the statue of Christopher Columbus, just a stone’s throw from La Rambla boulevard, the kindness and respect shown by the visitors despite their large numbers and the impeccable organisation made this final press conference a much-treasured moment.
Afterwards it was time for the Q&A session, where each person responded with their own sensitivity. From the pride of Nandor Fa at setting sail on a boat designed by him and made, in the main, by his own fair hands, to the relaxed attitude of Jean Le Cam who’s never lost for words, and the determination of the Catalonian skippers to fly their colours around the world, this press conference perfectly demonstrated the great richness of this line-up.
Finally, it was time for a family photograph, to which double champion of the first two editions of the race, Jean-Pierre Dick, was invited to participate. A well-deserved homage to this great sailor, who has contributed so much to the legitimacy of this double-handed round the world race.
Guillermo Altadill (Neutrogena): “I live in a small village 90 kilometres from Barcelona and I realised that I’d left the lights on… So my programme for the next two days will be returning home tomorrow to switch them off!”
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat): “It’s the first time I’ve competed in a double-handed round the world race. Life has a few surprises in store sometimes; I was supposed to do this Barcelona World Race on my own boat, which broke. Now I’m going to do the race with Jean (Le Cam) on a boat optimised by Jorg (Riechers) and Sébastien (Audigane). We had to adapt our preparation as we’ll have to adapt to the sea and I’m going to draw from the well of science that is Jean in a bid to return to Barcelona more intelligent.”
Conrad Coleman (Spirit of Hungary): “Nandor (Fa) invited me a month ago but it’s only today that I’m conscious of how privileged I am to be among all these skippers. I’m lucky to be carrying Nandor’s dreams as this boat is like his third daughter and I’ve respectfully agreed to take on the role of a kind of vehicle for this round the world dream.”
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss): “We accept the status of favourites. We have a lot of experience and we’re racing on one of the fastest boats. I’m also lucky enough to be able to count on Pepe (Ribes), one of the toughest and hardiest sailors around. We form a very ambitious team that wants to win.”
Jean-Pierre Dick (double champion): “The Barcelona World Race is synonymous with a great chunk of my life, my life as a sailor as well as my life full stop. This race enables me to fully express myself. Added to that, being a native of Nice, the Mediterranean is my ‘birth sea’ if I can call it that. The skippers aren’t asking my advice; they’re already into their own race. If there’s one secret to this double-handed challenge it’s to trust in the other person and not have a skewed relationship. You have to form a real team, one which brings added value to the daily discussions.”
Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA Class: “Beyond the sporting feat, the Barcelona World Race reminds us landlubbers of a fact that is often forgotten, that the Earth consists of 75% Sea. That’s why we’re proud of the contribution our sailors are making to a better understanding of the oceans and oceanographic and meteorological research. We salute the policy that has long-since coloured the thinking of the organisers of the race and we’ve decided to extend the partnership initiated by the FNOB with UNESCO to the whole IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship. This commitment by the Barcelona World Race has led us to change the way we look at the little-known marine world and is in line with its slogan: Turn the World around.”
Following the conference, Sir Keith Mills, President of OSM declared: “The Barcelona World Race is an extraordinary competition and a major event in our IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship. The international success of the race has once again been confirmed with some eight nationalities represented at the start, an essential element for the development of the circuit. Plainly our skippers are keen to get going on this Barcelona World Race, the grand finale of the 2013-2014 cycle, at the end of which the next World Champion will be crowned. »