Securing 3rd place alongside Jérémie Beyou aboard Maître CoQ, Christopher Pratt reviews the race and his various plans within the IMOCA class.
“This Transat Jacques Vabre was very hard, very intense. The five leading boats were constantly neck and neck, jockeying for pole position for several hours, days even. For our part, we were always in the top three and we came third so I consider this third place to be logical. Our aim was to make the podium, so it’s job done as far as that’s concerned. We knowingly made the decision to ease off at certain points so as not to push the boat too hard given Jérémie’s (Beyou) track record with Maître CoQ, because it was important to make Itajaï in one piece. That really was the primary objective rather than solely the result. We could certainly have bagged a better result, but I have no regrets as it was our philosophy from the start. We applied that in the Bay of Biscay, at Cape Verde and during the last night of the race… so we’re happy with the result given the need to preserve the boat... It was a very good exercise, with a view to the project, which is colouring all my thoughts right now, namely my participation in the Vendée Globe 2016. I’ve been sailing an IMOCA 60 since 2009, with an initial Transat Jacques Vabre with DCNS, then a Route du Rhum in 2010. With every year that passes I feel more and more at ease and in my rightful place in this circuit, even amongst these great, highly-medalled sailors. Today, I feel justified in signing up for this race and believe I’m capable of securing a decent result in it. You always need to remain very cautious about predictions in a race that is so tough, but I think I am up to the task of driving a top-level sporting project of this scale. That’s the goal I’ve set myself for the next few years anyway, even though it has to kick off with a participation in the next Route du Rhum, albeit a late one, so as to remain in the IMOCA circuit and keep pushing until I can finally take the start of the Vendée Globe 2016... I get a real kick out of sailing these IMOCA 60s. They’re incredibly complicated boats on a technological level and you need a great deal of training on them to get a true grasp of the complexity. There is always something that can be done to make faster headway. It’s been three years that I’ve been sailing on the same boat (participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre with Armel Le Cléac'h in 2011, preparation for the Vendée Globe immediately following on from that and the Transat Jacques Vabre with Jérémie Beyou). I never stop calling into question the means for getting the boats making the best possible headway, the trimming, the different ways of organising things aboard, the design of the sails… You’re constantly learning and that’s really what I love in this class.”