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Route des Princes race village opens in Valencia

by Sabina Mollart Rogerson on 6 Jun 2013
Visita escolar - 2013 Route des Princes © Route des Princes
The Route des Princes race village officially opened this Wednesday morning at 1000hrs, allowing the general public free access to the exhibitions, displays and of course the eight race boats aboard which preparations are continuing for Sunday’s start.

Very quickly the village, based around the iconic Veles e Ventes building and the Marina Real Juan Carlos, was abuzz with youngsters from the city, learning about the race, the boats and meeting the skippers, crew and shore crews and enjoying the interactive pursuits including making and racing paper boats and planting their own vegetables.

Spindrift racing’s multi multihull programme is one of the most ambitious in the sport at the moment. From the D35 through the MOD70 – winners of the inaugural MultiOne Championship and the Krys Ocean Race – to the recently acquired Spindrift 2 the maxi (ex Banque Populaire 5) the Spindrift racing team are busy on all fronts.

Leo Lucet, executive director of the team, masterminded putting all the pieces together to win overall last year. For this Route des Princes he will not be on the boat but instead will be on dry land most of the time, making sure that Yann Guichard and the crew are always best prepared to win.

Lucet explains some small changes to the team line up: ' This year we have changed the crew a little, so we have Xavier Revil and Christophe Espagnon and so we have created a new team. I cannot sail anymore because I have a health issue but also thinking more about the future, sailing not just on the MOD70 Spindrift but also Spindrift 2.'

As with the other teams, he feels their team have not quite had enough training time, but they are confident after a fast, muscular delivery from France to Valencia:

'We have not had enough sailing. The boat was launched again at the end of April and so we did only eight days of sailing before we set off for the Route des Princes start here but to be fair all the sailing time we had was useful because we had different sailing conditions. I think we get here in good condition. All of the offshore race crew did the delivery down here and so in fact that is the best training we have done in 2013.

In some respects they set the mould for the ideal crew composition:

'Yann Guichard chose different kinds of crewmembers last year, some young and some with a lot of experience. It was the mix between the young generation and the likes of Pascal Bidégorry and Jean-Baptiste LeVallaint who have huge experience, that was part of the reason we were so successful last year. I don’t look at all what the others have done choosing crewmembers. I am looking only at our team.'

The level is higher, and more evenly spread he believes:

'I think this race will be hard. All the crews are all better than last year. Now I think all the teams have all the same level of experience with the boats. What has still to be learned is now really just down to small percentages. I think these percentages are small. Last year we learned very fast, now finding new ideas or solutions to go faster and faster are very hard to find.'

'In my experience the Mediterranean is always difficult, especially Gibraltar. So Leg 1 the pressure is on from day one, and it will be difficult. And the second leg from Lisbon to Dublin it will be very different to the past which is usually north to south, so it will be very different with more tacking.'

The Route des Princes can be won on the water but it can certainly also be lost on dry land. The Spindrift team have boosted their shoreside support with a new self-contained workshop which will travel with the boat:

'Logistically we just ran with what the boat needed and a little truck This year we have invested in a 40 foot container and truck which will follow the boat everywhere. What we saw last year is that the boat, the MOD70, needs a lot of attention, a lot of maintenance all the time. So we are doing this race to win and so we need to have a very good support on the shore. The idea now is to be autonomous, to be self-sufficient and to be ready for anything all the time. It is impossible to think that you take an approach to hope to buy things in Lisbon or Dublin.'

'We have had few problems in the past, but always little, small problems. But it was obvious we need space to work. And we are harder with the boats, and they are a year old and so there will be more small issues. So we have to be ready.'

Logically Spindrift might be considered favourites, but Lucet says he feels no additional pressure because of that:

'There is not pressure for me but for Yann Guichard. He is here to win with this team. There was the pressure to win last year and we did Route des Princes website

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