After a short stay at his home in Locmariaquer with his family, Francis Joyon is back with his boat, moored up in the ferry port harbour in Saint-Malo. The countdown has now really begun with the days and hours to the starting gun on Sunday at two in the afternoon.
After competing in six editions since 1990, the skipper of the maxi trimaran IDEC SPORT appears to take it all in his stride, as he watches the frenzy around him in the harbour in Saint-Malo. Still accompanied by his faithful assistants, Corentin (his son), Pic (Sébastien Picot), Antoine Blouet and David Leven, he is extremely calm as he awaits the arrival of his historic crewmen, Bernard Stamm and Gwénolé Gahinet as well as Quentin Ponroy, who will be coming along on Saturday to help during the final hours before the start.
“I feel surprisingly relaxed. I feel fully confident in my boat and what I have going for me. This Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe will be the first time that the new generation of flying boats will be battling it out with the older ones like IDEC SPORT. It’s the battle between Ancient and Modern. I remain convinced that the human factor will remain key in this transatlantic race. That’s why I worked hard this summer on practicing the manoeuvres. It takes much longer to carry them out than on my old boat. I’m going to have to take that into account when choosing my route. All the manoeuvres take time. The righting moment is twice that of the previous boat, so the strains are multiplied by two in comparison to the former IDEC. It is twice as hard and the manoeuvres take twice as long.”
“I closely watched Groupama 3 and Banque Populaire VII racing in 2010 and 2014. They took a more direct route with as few manoeuvres as possible. That won’t necessarily be my case, as the route is so short, so it may be worth carrying out more manoeuvres.”
Unexcitable, Francis is starting to look at the weather forecasts for the start. Christian Dumard and Gwénolé Gahinet will make up his shore team, which is allowed by the organisers of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. “They are both professionals and complement each other very well. They know each other well and Gwéno knows all about the boat.”
The co-holder of the Jules Verne Trophy aboard IDEC SPORT, Bernard Stamm and Quentin Ponroy will be on board on Sunday to help Francis Joyon with the tricky last minute manoeuvres. With Gwéno and Bernard Stamm, “I’ve more or less brought together the Jules Verne crew again,” smiled Francis.