One of the few triple Solitaire du Figaro winners - along with Jean Le Cam, Philippe Poupon and Michel Desjoyeaux – Jérémie Beyou is currently busy preparing his IMOCA Maître CoQ for the next Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe. Doesn’t he think that working on two different projects simultaneously might hamper his performance ? Not at all…
Why did you choose to compete in the Solitaire du Figaro while running your IMOCA project?
“Maître CoQ and I started talking about the programme last autumn as they wanted some visibility beyond the Route du Rhum. At the time, the IMOCA programme had not yet been fully confirmed and I was really keen to come back to the Solitaire du Figaro. Working on both projects has brought a wider media audience and allowed me to maintain a high sporting level throughout the year.”
Wasn’t it risky chasing 2 goals at the same time?
“On the contrary. First of all, keeping up that high level has been beneficial both for me and the team, and it corresponds to my expectation as I constantly seek sporting perfection. On a more general level, it also fits well with our project planning. We’re a small team with the means to do things well but within a limited budget. Others have chosen to throw themselves into projects which test out new high technologies etc, whereas the team and I thought the best way forward for us was to aim more at a permanent high sporting level.”
But doesn’t the management of an IMOCA or a Figaro project require two very different approaches?
“Exactly. Our versatility will be what sets us apart. In the Figaro, it’s in the small details that you can make the difference. The IMOCA culture has forced us to be meticulous about the basics, like the details and the use of materials. In retrospect, the Figaro allowed us to look for small strategies which weren’t necessarily very costly but which made life easier. We have then tried to transfer these to IMOCA, and they sometimes work to very positive effect.”
And victory of course is always a great stimulus…
“I have always said so. From a strictly sporting point of view, you can’t top the Solitaire du Figaro. Winning the Solitaire of course is valorising for the whole team. You finish the season more or less on your knees, but with morale high and in a great frame of mind. Fatigue is nothing compared to the emulation generated within the team. Everyone feels great- it’s not just the skipper that wins. This is crucial as the level within IMOCA is constantly rising, and the young skippers are there ready to teach us a lesson.”
You rubbed shoulders with them during the Solitaire, didn’t you?
“Yes, and it’s a step in the right direction. Now, when I hear about some of the new boat projects I wonder if we shouldn’t have limited things more. The aim was to improve security and reduce costs to enable new projects to develop. But what will happen if you have to follow the trends that seem to be in the air at the moment in order to have a fast boat. If I go to my partner tomorrow and tell him that to remain competitive I have to add foils to the boat at a cost of X thousand Euros or more, I lose credibility against what I sold him. Let’s make an effort to maintain sporting value, bearing in mind that if budgets carry on rising, it is the existence of the whole class that is at risk.”