Securing a brilliant second place aboard the oldest IMOCA 60 of the leading group, Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidegorry (Safran) review their crazy descent towards Brazil.
Marc Guillemot: "It was raw... a mixture of animality and concentration, the eye constantly riveted on the indicators, on performance. There was never a deadlock in terms of performance, which translates as a discomfort bordering on reasonable, a lot of dampness, a constant, accentuated heeling angle... That was the main theme of our race from the start. Everything focused on performance, and what was interesting, in contrast to what was envisaged with Pascal (Bidegorry) before the start, was that we quickly sensed that we had the opportunity to get a good result, a win even, whilst spontaneously, we had been envisaging hooking a podium spot. And I think that was the same across the board for the top five crews. Quickly, each of them realised that they could take the win. We seriously began to consider it as we led off Cherbourg. After that there was a great deal of jockeying for the top spot. That suddenly gave the race intensity and increased the pace of the race… hence the power sailing, the ‘nag race’ to coin a phrase which came out of a lot of sailors’ mouths at the finish. That’s not necessarily my feeling, my cup of tea, my style of sailing but well, Pascal steered me in that direction and clearly that was the way to go in this race.
Pascal Bidegorry: "In any case, it was evident that whoever eased up slipped behind, so it was an observation. There wasn’t really any choice. Together with Marco, we made very good use of the monohull Safran in these extreme conditions, with very efficient trimming to get her making headway and that enabled us to hoist ourselves up to the level of competition of the more modern boats, which was beyond what we’d hoped for at the start. I think that if we’d had calmer conditions, we wouldn’t have been able to keep pace so well. We played our game well, because it was harsh, because you really had to drive the boats into a corner… and we saw that the boats which had a tendency to dominate us during the training sessions in Port la Forêt, particularly on certain points of sail, weren’t as quick as us at times in this Transat Jacques Vabre. There were moments when it was tough but I can honestly say that I got a great deal of pleasure in this adversity. That’s what’s fantastic about this race. You have to battle and constantly be demanding in terms of performance... everything else takes secondary importance and you end up living like an animal, because you get little sleep, you don’t eat well, you’re soaked to the skin most of the time, you have very little time to yourself… and yet it has a significant impact in a period of over two weeks. There were moments where, in the management of our sleep, in our watch rhythm, that we had to make some adjustments because it was really becoming too hard…”