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America's Cup World Series Energy Team skipper Loïck Peyron interview

by Pierre Giboire on 8 Aug 2011
Energy Team duels with Oracle Racing - America’s Cup World Series 2011 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/
America’s Cup World Series is currently underway in Cascais, Portugal. Energy Team has finished the weekend of racing feeling satisfied that they had done as much as they could after just ten days of learning to sail the AC45.

At the conclusion of these four races, even if the top teams are the favourites, this first weekend is seen as satisfactory for the French team, after their battle alongside the big names in the long race today. The skipper of Energy Team tells us more.

Loïck, how do you feel about this first weekend of racing?

Loïck Peyron: I feel fine. Really. I’m quite pleased. Yesterday, it’s true that it wasn’t that great with the lack of wind and we were only just discovering these boats in such light conditions. No, yesterday wasn’t wonderful for several reasons. Firstly, because the whole of the crew were suffering from food poisoning, so we were only really at 50% of what we are capable of and then there was the question of our experience in light conditions. We did in fact have a great race to start off with.

Ending up second just behind the Kiwis was fantastic. And today for the long race, it was good, as we got off to a great start and there was a wonderful battle out on the water. We decided to take a few more risks today, which is what we did by getting within 20 cm of the committee boat at the gun, which was a great idea. And then, we went on to race with the top teams always in the lead, but that is what you should expect.

Are you worried about the gulf between you and the top teams, as there is quite a gap?

LP: Yes, we’re a long way behind in a lot of areas, but sometimes we have managed to get back up there very quickly. Today’s long race was really interesting, as we were always battling it out with Oracle, Team New Zealand and some other good teams. I’m not trying to make excuses, even if that is probably true, but given the time and work, it is within our grasp... We’re still working out things and we should be watching what’s happening around us. At the helm, I still have to watch closely what’s happening on board to give some help to everyone. Normally, I should be beyond that stage watching what is happening out on the water, and for the moment, that is not easy, but it will come in time...

We can see that the Kiwis and the Americans are very aggressive in the start phase...
LP: Yes, indeed. That’s their job and they have been experts at that for almost 20 years now in the America’s Cup. Above all they are great starters, these America's Cup champions, but today, we certainly didn’t make fools of ourselves. Far from it, as we gave it our all today. These boats are physically very demanding. It happens very quickly and you never get any time to rest.

Apart from the big teams, which other teams have impressed you so far?

LP: The Koreans have been good in general, which isn’t that much of a surprise. They were our colleagues in the Oman team last year, so we know what they’re like and they know how to sail this type of boat. Mitch Booth isn’t bad either. We caught him up today, before he crossed in front of us on the finishing line, but I didn’t want to try anything risky with the boat. I took it rather conservatively, as we need to avoid taking too many risks, except in the start phase, where you have to, which is what I did today.

What room do you have to progress after this?

LP: We’ll be taking a real day off tomorrow, as everyone is tired and there is a lot of wind forecast, so no sailing scheduled. We’ll be sheltering in our base, where things are getting better and better organised. We work hard ashore and out on the water to show everyone the French way of life. There’s a lot of work to do, which is what we were expecting. When you discover a new type of boat, you waste a lot of time, so it’s really tiring. But each day, we’re making progress. We’re getting all the little details sorted out, which means things will be easier. We’re improving the way people work together on board and making good progress.

Energy Team website
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